Given the wide range of features, anyone working with TDM will repeatedly find themselves in fields that are not part of the usual work process. "In such a case, reaching for the 'F1' key is the method of choice to get information about the software," Dr. Johannes Thiele explains. The academic has been creating user documentation for TDM products for 11 years. The F1 key launches the Help browser for online help with context awareness – i.e. with the help page assigned to the control element that is currently active.
Similar to the TDM software, the documentation has a modular structure. For each software module and each interface, there is a separate manual in which work processes and how to use the GUI are described in detail. "The documentation forms the basis for using the software and is structured in such a way that it can provide assistance at all steps of the application," Thiele explains his work.
All of the documentation is available online or as a PDF with identical content. The online version has several advantages over the PDFs:
- Easy to start: The online help is launched in the software with context awareness, directly with the topic where assistance is required.
- Intelligent cross-referencing: These are easy to use via hyperlinks between the individual volumes, providing you with quicker access to additional topics.
- Powerful search: The online help contains a powerful search feature that enables you to search through the entire help system.
There are two manuals for both the TDM ClassiX and TDM Global Line software ranges, which make it easier to get started with the software:
- TDM Compact: Explains the most important functional principles and work areas of TDM in a few pages and enables even beginners to decide which data areas are important. This includes information on feeds & speeds, cutting tool materials and even tool connections.
- Basic information: The module-specific manuals for both software ranges are prefaced with a general information section. This explains the GUI and how to perform the basic actions – searching, editing and booking – in the respective software range.
Important data definitions
The structure of the entire master database determines how efficiently the TDM system can be used at a later stage. There are manuals on this subject with general information and references that define the data requirements of the TDM system:
- TDM conventions: These explain the TDM functional principle. For example, they explain how to create the digital twin in the tool assembly, how to transfer tool item data to the tool assembly data record and what role tool classification and the assignment of parameters and function types play.
- TDM 2D/3D data definitions: This volume defines the requirements for graphics files and 3D solids to be used in TDM. This information is particularly important when working with CAM systems, which sometimes have a broad range of requirements for these files.
Most of the documentation is dedicated to one TDM software module at a time, as well as the features and basic data that are provided with the respective module. The structure of the manuals follows the structure of the GUI – this is also for context awareness. Most of the documentation is dedicated to one TDM software module at a time, as well as the features and basic data that are provided with the respective module. The structure of the manuals follows the structure of the GUI – this is also for context awareness.
In addition to the description of the operating steps, the documentation also contains notes on dependencies between the data areas and illustrations, as well as concrete examples that illustrate even complex operating steps.
Version updates to the main release
The user documentation is extensively updated for each main release. A separate volume consisting of the new features and improvements is compiled and existing customers and users will receive this in advance as a PDF. Once the update has been completed, it is also advisable to use the online help, explains Dr. Thiele. "Cross-references take you from the description of the new feature to the details and, if applicable, the necessary configuration changes that must be made to use the new feature."
Feedback from users enables improvements
"The documentation is prepared with great care and should be easy to understand, comprehensive and, above all, useful," Dr. Thiele explains. Nevertheless, errors can creep in or there may be gaps in content. In the online version, the browser footer therefore has a contact option which can be used to send an e-mail with a comment about the relevant help page to firstname.lastname@example.org. The technical documentation team welcomes feedback and input to improve the support systems according to user needs.