Navigating XML Change in Aviation

In our previous blog post, we delved into an overview of XML markup languages, aiming to steer the aviation industry toward enhanced technical information management. However, in an industry characterised by perpetual change, where the omission of crucial updates can have life-threatening consequences, mere awareness of change proves insufficient. What is imperative is not only the ability to discern when changes occur but also the proficiency to articulate those changes in a manner that facilitates informed decision-making.

XML changes in evolving aviation standards

Examining changes in XML standards is a vital task for aviation professionals, given the industry’s emphasis on precision and compliance. The constant evolution of technology and regulation necessitates a thorough inspection of XML standards.

Aviation experts are required to diligently review XML standards during the integration of new equipment, implementation of software updates, or adaptation to regulatory changes. This proactive approach is crucial for identifying potential issues in advance, minimising risks, and preserving the integrity of technical information systems. The ability to proficiently assess changes within XML standards not only facilitates compliance but also empowers aviation professionals to stay ahead of the curve, contributing to the development of a resilient and future-ready industry framework.

XML-driven aviation documentation

Analysing changes within aircraft manuals is a crucial task in the aviation industry. These manuals evolve to incorporate technological advancements, safety protocols, aircraft modifications, and regulatory updates.

The ability to identify these changes is vital for maintaining accuracy, adhering to industry standards, and ensuring that aviation personnel access the most current and relevant information. Leveraging technology to automate the identification of changes in XML-based aircraft manuals not only simplifies the updating process but also improves the efficiency and reliability of technical documentation. This, in turn, contributes to the safety and operational excellence of the aviation ecosystem.

Change tracking in XML documents

Poor change tracking

The MIL-STD-40051 standard from the U.S. Department of Defense lays down the law on technical content, mandatory style, and the nitty-gritty of preparing Interactive Electronic Technical Manuals (IETMs). It’s the go-to guide for subsequent revisions, ensuring these manuals support all kinds of gear and weapon systems in the Department of the Army and the Department of the Marine Corps.

For something of such gravity, it should be crystal clear what has changed from version to version. Yet, the first few pages hit you with a laundry list of modifications—lines and lines detailing what has been altered, deleted, or added. To truly decipher these tweaks, you’re left with the substantial task of page-flipping, trying to piece together what was there before and make sense of the shift. It’s a bit like solving a puzzle blindfolded, especially if you’re missing the previous edition.

Department Of Defense Standard Practice Preparation Of Digital Technical Information For Interactive Electronic Technical Manuals (IETMS) pg. 3, a list of changes present

Redline reports representing change in XML

While not directly aviation-centric, an organisation that truly grasps the significance of highlighting modifications is none other than the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Boasting a repertoire of over 25,000 international standards spanning the realms of technology, management, and manufacturing, it’s safe to say they’ve weathered their fair share of changes over the years. Their secret sauce? Redline reports that meticulously unveil alterations, showcasing where content has been added, deleted, or modified in successive versions. It’s a far cry from the laborious task of constantly flipping between editions, offering a much more reader-friendly and efficient way to digest and assess evolving standards.

Screenshot from the ISO website with redlines enabled

Implementation of change tracking

Shall we let you into a secret? ISO uses DeltaXML technology. With XML Compare, finding, processing and representing change becomes a problem of the past.

Using XML Compare

To demonstrate how XML Compare could have represented changes between the U.S. Department of Defense Standard Practice for the Preparation of Digital Technical IETMS I’ve extracted the initial pages from both the 2006 and 2015 editions. After downloading the necessary DeltaXML files from the MyDelta platform and making sure my XML Compare license was activated, I organised the files I’ll be using for the comparison in a dedicated folder named ‘aviation’. To perform a comparison using XML Compare, I executed the following command line code:

Java -jar command-12.0.1.jar compare diffreport aviation/2006DOD.xml aviation/2015DOD.xml aviation/result.html

Breakdown of the command

Command-12.0.1.jar = command java file

Compare = subcommand

Diffreport = configuration id (The configuration ID diffreport is employed to determine how changes are presented to the user. In this instance, we’ve opted for diffreport, which generates an HTML folding diff report showcasing the alterations. Alternative choices encompass delta, generating an XML delta report in a raw XML format for subsequent processing, and diffreport-sbs, which furnishes results in an HTML side-by-side report among others. It is possible to create your own custom pipelines to represent changes however you need).

Aviation/2006DOD.xml= file a

Aviation/2015DOD.xml = file b

Aviation/result.html = the result file


And voilà a folding report of the changes found between versions. A stark contrast to how changes are represented currently in those manuals. (Note. the Trial version # is because an evaluation license was used).

However, the integration of XML Compare into diverse workflows or applications is merely the starting point. By utilising Java and REST APIs, XML Compare offers the flexibility to process changes in a customised manner, facilitating intelligent automation that adapts to the unique requirements of the task at hand. This extends to handling changes in files, irrespective of their complexity or size, ensuring a seamless and efficient automation process.

Using Content Compare S1000D

XML Compare effortlessly handles file comparisons whether it’s standard XML, ATA iSpec 2200, MIL-STD-40051, or S1000D. However, when dealing specifically with S1000D with a focus on discerning changes in content without worrying about structure or formatting differences, Content Compare S1000D emerges as the preferred solution.

With the streamlined quick comparison feature on MyDelta, users can swiftly compare S1000D content in a matter of seconds, contingent upon file size. The process is user-friendly—simply drag your files into the GUI for a seamless and efficient comparison experience.


As aviation and aerospace industries progress, so do the tools that sustain them. Merely identifying changes isn’t sufficient if the representation is unclear or confusing. The implementation of tools like XML Compare and Content Compare S1000D allows us to effectively showcase the evolution of critical information between versions. This ensures users have a clear understanding of the information necessary to carry out their responsibilities with precision and effectiveness and ensures the highest standard of regulation and safety procedures. If you frequently deal with evolving XML documents, consider exploring DeltaXML solutions by starting a free trial today.

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