Just like the three rules of keeping gremlins as pets – No bright lights, no water and no feeding after midnight. There are also three things you should expect when paying for software maintenance.

Anyone that has purchased commercial software will be familiar with software maintenance. For those not aware, software maintenance is a part of software development life-cycle and its main purpose is to modify and update the software application after delivery. This includes new software upgrades, patches and product support. Software maintenance as industry standards go, is normally charged at 20% of the software’s list price. Maintenance is often detailed out as a separate line item in pricing to highlight the percentage of the software price and invoiced annually by the software vendor.

When considering buying or subscribing to an S1000D publishing system, it is vital that you understand what is and is not covered under Maintenance. Like car insurance, there are different levels of coverage and conditions involved.

Firstly let’s consider what maintenance from a responsible S1000D vendor should provide. Under maintenance you should receive:

  1. Free, full version upgrades of the software you have purchased.
  2. The vendor should also provide “patches” for smaller feature updates and “bug fixes” that correct software problems.
  3. You should also have phone and email access to the vendor’s helpdesk and a support ticketing system for tracking your issues.

Seems obvious right? Watch for Gizmo’s “Uh Oh” moments!

You now have maintenance. Or do you? Don’t be fooled by the “bright lights” – Maintenance should also cover changes to the operating systems and database products.  For example, as Microsoft releases new versions of the SQL server, they may depreciate older stored procedures. The vendor should also ensure their applications are supported on new operating systems and that support is included under paid maintenance.

This one is definitely a “water gun to the face” moment – Maintenance should include support for software updates that ensure latest versions of the ASD S1000D Specification can be utilized in the system.  I do recommend you check a vendor’s position on application upgrades for changes to the S1000D Specification, as you definitely want to avoid the situation where you have to pay for software upgrades to support a new release of the Specification. Don’t feed the sales person’s wallet… “Especially after midnight!”

Software maintenance should be a safety net for your software investment, allowing you to focus on your publishing outcomes.  Ask the right questions and read the fine print, so you know you’re covered now and in the future.


Michael Halter
Product Development Manager
Absolute Data Group