PTC to technical service writers: “One size — XXXL– fits all”

PTC to technical service writers: one size — ginormous — fits all

Many of you may remember the rock band called Talking Heads. And you may also remember their famous movie, Stop Making Sense, in which lead singer David Bryne appears onstage in an ill-fitting “big suit.”

Both the title of the film and the fit of the clothes pretty aptly describe what we think of Parametric Technology’s announcement of a “comprehensive, out-of-the-box solution for creating, publishing and delivering technical service manuals.”

We wonder why you need four separate applications – none of which are widely-deployed standards – to author content. Will tech writers prefer Microsoft® Word® or Arbortext® Editortm? How eager do you think users are to learn a new text editing tool? PTC’s press release says, “The success of any new solution hinges on an organization’s capacity and commitment to using it.” We completely agree and hope they have some magic formula for displacing Microsoft Office® among non-engineering content creators, a task that has so far eluded everyone from Lotus to OpenOffice.org.

Arbortext Publishing Enginetm is said to “leverage” output from Arbortext Editor to apply stylesheets and publish in multiple languages. So much for the old saying that a picture tells a thousand words. Among Seemage customers, the emphasis is on using Seemage to replace translations wherever possible. I guess if you have “text” in your product name, interactive, 3D animations are the farthest thing from your product plan.

One other thing we wonder about: why do you need separate products to view illustrations (Arbortext IsoView®) and another to create them (Arbortext IsoDraw®)? By contrast, Seemage Player is not just an ActiveX viewing plug-in, but a full content-viewing application that uses the same architecture and performance-enhancing technology of the top-of-the-line Seemage Publisher content-creation product.

To us, “out-of-the-box” doesn’t mean separate products that you put together in your business. To us, out-of-the-box means integrated products all based on the same technological core that differ only in available options. In other words, a system like Seemage, which by the way, isn’t intended as a nose-under-the-tent for any PLM system.

Just as most people today know the difference between cloth you sew yourself and a ready-made suit, we think most people will see this announcement for what it is: a repackaging of some very large piece parts of software. We hope you don’t get lost in this “big suit.”

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