Crossmedia Publishing is the name given to publication processes in which any output formats are published from a common source. The compilation of the content to be published takes place in a non media-specific way, usually in XML format. XML ensures that content and layout are kept separate. Information regarding the layout is not added until the content is published in the required output format.
Crossmedia Publishing is much more than just a conversion process, in which a converter transfers a format more or less successfully into a different format and the outcome of the conversion depends heavily upon how carefully the item has been formatted in its original form. In the case of Crossmedia Publishing, no such dependencies exist.
The majority of manufacturers provide Technical Documentation in multiple formats. It is not too difficult to imagine how chaotic it would be if each available format required a tool of its own. A multiplicity of formats of that type can only be managed effectively if the content is kept completely separate from the layout and the output format is simply selected prior to the publication process. That is what editing systems help us to do.
The essential feature of editing systems is the re-use of available content, not in the form of documents but in the form of text modules. A module can be used in an unlimited number of documents, but is physically stored only once.
Re-using a module may also mean, however, that a given document structure is published in a variety of formats. If we use an editing system, this poses no problems whatsoever. The majority of systems support out-of-the-box PDF format and CHM or HTML as standard. Additional output formats can also be programmed on a client-specific level, including high-quality Adobe InDesign outputs. You can also create any possible variations in terms of the output format.
In order use Crossmedia Publishing to present your Technical Documentation in the form of appealing publications that make use of the required medium, you will require a suitable editing system. The fact that you are working with a professional editing system that utilises modules that are simple to create, are administered centrally and can be re-used on multiple occasions means that you are automatically able to provide information in the relevant context. The editing system includes special functions that support Crossmedia Publishing: The variety of output channels enables you to publish your content automatically at the push of a button and in a variety of formats, without additional manual work.
The benefit of these systems lies in the fact that they operate efficiently and therefore save time. What is more, you are able to ensure that your layout and content remain consistent as a result of the re-use of the module, thereby reinforcing your corporate identity.
Crossmedia Publishing using editing systems is the right solution for companies that wish to make available their documents in a variety of media formats. The widest possible variety of output formats and variations can be created at the click of a mouse, without additional effort. In this way, manufacturers are able to respond to the latest technological developments, changes in user behaviour or market trends rapidly and without a great deal of effort.
Demand for output formats will therefore follow the technological trends and developments with regard to the use of media: Until now, Crossmedia Publishing was confined to single-channel information provision by means of manuals and locally installed online help features. In the future, however, areas such as mobile documentation, content delivery and content strategy will form the driving forces behind demand for additional output media. In addition, the social media and additional Web 2.0 innovations have had such an emancipatory effect upon users that they also want to be involved in the communication. That is the reason why we need to respond to the changes taking place within society and to provide solutions in the area of Technical Documentation.