Methodology and tools for multimedia documentation and electronic catalogues

METODOC - 20372

keywords: multimedia retrieval, multimedia database management system, electronic publishing, technical documentation, technical authors and publishers (acquisition and authoring), service and after sales (information retrieval), manufacturing and automotive sectors, prepress and publishing companies

Start Date: 1 November 1995 / Duration: 24 months

[ contact / participants ]


The project aims to provide an integrated methodology and toolset for the development of multimedia-based technical documentation and electronic publishing. A market study carried out by the IAO has shown that there is a lot of software in this field but only a few packages are well-integrated, especially with regard to the integration of multimedia. The major findings from the study are that: there is a lack of transparency in the market for technical documentation; there is a strong need for the integration of multimedia elements into electronic publishing (e.g. videos of complex repair processes in electronic service manuals); currently available technical documentation (including catalogues, brochures, manuals, etc.) is not of sufficiently high quality; user access mechanisms have to be improved; time and costs in the production processes are too high; keeping consistency in the updating processes is a problem.

The solution to these problems is to develop an integrated system that fulfils the following objectives: development of a toolset of components for technical documentation and electronic publishing that integrates available tools in a user-friendly and homogenous environment; use of a methodology for the whole process of production that leads to automation of the development of technical documentation; innovative, high-quality user access and retrieval mechanisms; making the content digital as early as possible and keeping it digital as long as possible.

The METODOC project takes a user-driven approach. The iterative development of the components will be strongly influenced by detailed user specifications. Moreover, three pilot applications which demonstrate the applicability of the components will be developed. Feedback from the experiences in the pilot development will influence the final components. Standards and existing tools will be taken into account. The final result will be an integrated system of METODOC components and multimedia database management systems solving the problems with today's technical documentation outlined above.

The project consortium has been designed to have three pairs of supplier-user companies. All user companies (BREDA, FESTO and COMPUPRESS) have a very strong interest in enhancing their current situation in the field of technical documentation. The three software companies include two (MOZART and EXODUS) with in-depth experience in multimedia presentation systems and one (Hewlett-Packard) with an existing system for technical documentation that will be enhanced with multimedia and other functionalities.

One research institute (FhG-IAO) will design the expected methodology. The associated user organisation, tekom, will provide appropriate dissemination of the results within its own and its European parent organisation (intecom) by publishing results and organising European conferences. The three user companies will be equipped with a pilot application fulfilling one of their needs in the field of technical documentation. They expect a significant improvement in business communication, but also a reduction of costs and time for the production of technical documentation. The two smaller software suppliers will use their experience in the field of multimedia and expect to enhance their abilities and knowledge in order to develop and offer a specific competitive multimedia package to the concerned industry, specifically to SMEs. Hewlett-Packard, which is project coordinator and exploitation manager for the project, will improve its tools in this field significantly. Typically, their customers are large companies, such as FESTO with whom they are developing the pilot application. The research institute IAO will profit from the project by developing the overall methodology. The system will include new research results in the field of structural enrichment and description of multimedia information (indexing) with corresponding retrieval mechanisms. Research and other project results will be spread to European members of the user organisation intecom through the German institution tekom.

Contact Point

Armin Kroll
Hewlett-Packard GmbH
Herrenbergerstr. 130
D-71034 Böblingen
tel +49-7031-147016
fax +49-7031-143924


Hewlett-Packard GmbH - D - C
Mozart S.p.A. - I - P
Fraunhofer Gesellschaft / IAO e.V. - D - P
tekom e.V. - D - A

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METODOC - 20372, December 1995

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