When it comes to technical manuals, there is a big debate going on about what the best way to go about publishing them is, namely choosing between Interactive Electronic Technical Manuals (IETM) or Interactive Electronic Technical Publications (IETP). In this post, we will explore the differences between these two formats and help you decide which one is right for your needs.
The main benefit of Interactive Electronic Technical Publications is that you can update them easily. This means that when there are updates to the product, customers will automatically get an updated version with the click of a button. The downside, however, is that IETP formats require more resources in terms of bandwidth and storage space, which your company might not be able to afford at this time. Another benefit of IETP formatting is the ease with which it can be navigated. This means that your customers can use bookmarks or links in their Table of Contents and easily find what they are looking for.
For Interactive Electronic Technical Manuals, an advantage is because it doesn’t require the elaborate structure an IETP requires, such as co-mingling of books and an extensive table of contents, the file size tends to be much smaller. This translates to less strain on bandwidth and storage space. This makes IETM formats more cost-effective, as compared to IETP formats. However, the downside is that IETM formats are not as easy to navigate, and customers might have a hard time finding what they need if it's not placed in the right section of the manual.
There are other forms of Interactive Electronic Technical Manuals and Publications that you might want to check out if these two don't fit your needs. One example would be a replica manual, which consists of the text but no images at all, so everything is very simple in terms of design, making it easy for customers to read through what they need quickly! The downside here however lies within how much less appealing this form looks when compared to interactive manuals or publications with imagery included – so make sure you choose carefully depending on your audience.
Another option is an appendix-type booklet which includes both text and images (usually attached). This means that there will be links available throughout the book like regular manuals/publications do while also splitting up content into sections as replica manuals do. This format is mainly used to help customers get the information they need quickly without having to go through images first but can also be great for referencing purposes since it's easy to navigate.
Interactive Electronic Technical Publications are more expensive than Interactive Electronic Technical Manuals.
Interactive Electronic Technical Manuals can be accessed at any time, while Interactive Electronic Technical Publications are purchased for a specific time frame.
Interactive Electronic Technical Publications have a thorough structure that makes the information easy to navigate and bookmark commonly used sections.
IETM and IETP both allow for illustrations, hyperlinks, and tables incorporated into the data, whereas replica and appendix manuals omit or separate them.
IETM and IETP allow for many forms of multimedia, including videos and sound files.
The main difference between Interactive Electronic Technical Manuals vs Interactive
Electronic Publications comes down to how much effort you want your customers and/or employees going through in order to find the information they need, as well as how appealing this format for manuals looks compared with others. Indeed, aesthetics matter when comparing various formats for technical documentation. Nevertheless, all three formats have their pros and cons, so make sure that before selecting one over another, that you consider what will work best for your audience and business goals.
American Data Solutions specializes in providing innovative IETM and IETP solutions for the military and aerospace in different fields, including technical data, logistics, maintenance, training, and scheduling. The MDDV IETM/IETP is the only 6-Generation in the market. MDDV provides full IETM and IETP capabilities to data sources in S1000D, also for SGML, and DITA source data. If you want to get any of these solutions for your company, you can get in touch with us.