Techscribe, a software documentation firm based in the UK, recently released an open-source term-checking software that supports ASD Simplified Technical English (ASD-STE), issue 3. Technical writers can use the Techscribe term-checking software to conform their text to the ASD-STE 100 specification, an international specification for the preparation of maintenance and other technical documentation in this controlled language.
The software, which uses the open-source proofreading program LanguageTool as a framework, identifies several common problems technical writers encounter while creating content in ASD-STE 100 or other controlled languages that restrict usage of terms via their dictionaries and a set of writing rules. Mike Unwalla, founder of Techscribe explains how the term-checking software tool helps writers use controlled language. “When I try to conform to ASD-STE100, vocabulary is a large problem. For example, I must remember to use attach, not fix. I must remember that sample is a noun, not a verb. I must remember that the customer’s term is hard disk, not hard drive. The new software helps me to make sure that I use the terms correctly.”
The tool checks for usage problems including: unknown and unapproved keywords; approved keywords that contain incorrect parts of speech; incorrect usage of keywords; and spelling and grammar errors. The term-checker includes two XML files that specify the rules and grammar that it will use to validate terms and that identify terms that are not approved or ambiguous. Users customize these rules to include specialized technical names and verbs used in their organization.
TechScribe specializes in creating documentation for online help, user guides and reference manuals for software companies and IT departments. In addition to the open-source version of the Term Checker tool, TechScribe offers paid versions that support ASD-STE 100, issue 4 and issue 5, as well as customization support services.