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Industrial Automation


The “Movement Controller” documentation consists of an “operator's manual”, a “technical manual” and a “software manual”. These manuals are each generated from a single source document, to provide site-specific, operating-system-specific manuals and help systems. The manuals for a given site, when combined, are around 900 pages in length, depending upon the site.

The software manual is not provided on line as much of it is rather esoteric.

The technical manual is not provided on line as much of it is site specific and may contain commercially sensitive information. On the other hand, there is considerable information of a technical nature provided in the operator's manual.

The division of information between the operator and technical manuals is based on whether the information relates directly to the operator interface or more generally to the system. For example, the definition of the system (including the language syntax, et cetera) is described in the operator's manual as it is performed via the operator interface, whereas the wiring connections, communications protocols, control algorithms, structure of PLC programs, and off-line ancillary programs are described in the technical manual.

We use our own non-WYSIWYG word processor, “wp” which allows us to take a single source document and from it produce individual manuals and help systems for all sites and operating systems, as well as the HTML version of “word processor manual” and the “operator's manual”.

What we don't like about WYSIWYG word processors, is the fact that the entire document must be seen for you to know what you get. However, the main reason we wrote our own word processor was so that we could write a single, but configurable manual, with site-specific sections, which would enable us to maintain the individual manuals for all sites at once. This, along with the bonus features of providing the on-line help system, and producing an HTML version, has made it a vital tool.