[DITA Loc Wire 20] If your technical content is shifting towards web and mobile publication, you reach a point where traditional linear authoring becomes counter-productive. DITA enables reuse and channel-specific formatting, lowering time spent and costs. Yet, diving into the DITA pool summons a great deal of perception and internal lobbying. Here is a successful DITA project that 4D Concept and WhP partnered in that can help documentation architects climb onto the diving board: Europe’s second car manufacturer, PSA, now publishes their owner manuals for over thirty vehicles online, via their mobile app and in PDF in 29 languages, thanks to DITA.

4D Concept introduces PSA to DITA for their cross-channel documentation

Based on the west side of Paris, France, 4D Concept is an expert in technical documentation design and management. The company embraced the S1000D standard, followed by DITA, and won large contracts like the Rafale fighter plane and Renault’s army truck owner manuals.  Released in 2016, 4D Concept’s DITA CMS, DITA Factory, has been adopted by companies in the automotive and factory automation industries.

End of 2015, the PSA automotive group released a tender to upgrade their printed owner manuals. PSA had been using their supplier’s proprietary XML CMS and was dissatisfied by the level of reuse and the overall process. The 4D Concept team introduced them to DITA, and they were impressed by the functionalities of the standard and the freedom of design that their CMS provided. 4D Concept submitted a cross-media proposal encompassing five elements:

  • The DITA CMS deployment,
  • The content migration,
  • A mobile app that gives the driver access to relevant user assistance,
  • A website,
  • Publication in four formats (PDF, HTML, Android, and IOS).

PSA approved 4D Concept’s proposal, giving them nine months for implementation. The content represented 50,000 topics spread out across 50 car models and three brands. 4D Concept worked in an agile mode as the car specifications evolved. 4D Concept also worked on enhancing the interface, adding images and functionalities, as well as generating the conditional text. 

WhP increases content reuse in localization by 75%

During the first three years of applying the DITA standard at PSA, 4D Concept worked with a localization services provider with no DITA expertise. They lacked the skills required to manage the library, the glossary, and the associated keyrefs. Their processes were manual and error-prone. Their poor performance prompted PSA to look for a linguistic provider capable of managing DITA, and 4D Concept contacted us. We provided fixes to the recurring issues in their current localization process and presented the Augmented Review for DITA content. Web-based and WYSIWYG, the Augmented Review enables reviewers to read the source and target versions side-by-side and edit the content dynamically. With 60 reviewers within the PSA group, the feature promised to be a game-changer, reducing costs and time-to-market. So WhP joined the project.

Within nine months, WhP lowered localization costs with a 75% increase in content reuse. The legacy translation memory WhP started with enabled a 45% leverage, which WhP raised to 75%. Automotive Project Manager with 4D Concept since 2015, Matthieu Froment and his team develop the apps and documentation for the automotive industry.  He is delighted with WhP’s services: “The translation quality has improved substantially. Their command of DITA has enabled them to take over the project smoothly. They delivered flawless translations from day one.”


Matthieu Froment from 4D Concept

4D Concept and WhP bring outstanding cost reduction 

Costs are cut in four areas:

  • Single sourcing for 50 car models, three brands and four output formats,
  • Reduced DTP,
  • Lower localization fees,
  • Faster linguistic review.

4D Concept, as PSA’s documentation manager, assessed the first two items. “Since PSA’s transition to DITA, our project scope is twice as wide, given that we integrate localization and DTP in 29 languages. DITA enables us to get twice as much work done as before,” explains Matthieu Froment. “As PSA continues to add car models to its catalog, we can take in the extra workload, meet the deadlines and maintain costs.”

PSA’s DITA journey is an exciting one, and we’re thrilled to have contributed to its construction. PSA is not alone, and we are witnessing DITA gaining ground in Europe. At the recent DITA Europe conferences, the questions from the techpub teams were more advanced and targeted towards implementation. DITA’s also expanding in Asia, and 4D Concept is heading for Japan to address the needs of the car and machine tool industries.