Why to Assemble Requirements Documents Manually?

It’s a well-known fact that DITA can significantly improve content reuse, single sourcing, consistency, multi-channel publishing, and dramatically reduce translation costs. But there is another quite interesting area which is probably being less discussed so far. It’s an ability to automatically retrieve various pieces of content and assemble them into new contexts.

Suppose you’re a project manager, writing a requirements specifications document. DITA lets you structure requirements in a way that makes content retrievable on a granular level. Content enriched with a semantic markup is searchable as if it’s a database, but provides the level of flexibility that traditional relational databases usually can’t offer.

For example, once individual requirements are semantically structured, they can be automatically assembled into a cost estimate document that includes a list of requirement titles, estimate for each requirement, and automatically calculated total estimate. Similarly, a sales proposal can be automatically built with a detailed description of requirements, delivery plan, and automatically calculated estimate for each project phase.



How It Works

The solution involves the following components:

  • Document Configurator: defines the structure of the output documents depending on the document genre (for example, requirements specifications, sales proposal, cost estimate, etc.).
  • Estimation Module: calculates costs and generates the delivery plan.
  • Report Generator: generates a report on dependencies between requirements



What You Gain

  • Changes across multiple documents are synchronized
  • Ability to instantly see how a change affects the project
  • Project documentation is prepared faster
  • Documentation is more reliable
  • Everyone works with up-to-date information