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More best practices for Oracle User Productivity Kit (UPK)

An Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG) member explains her company's best practices around Oracle User Productivity Kit (UPK).

OAUG logoEDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second of a two-part column on Oracle User Productivity Kit (UPK), which will focus on the use of the library and online editor. The first part covers defining standards and securing content.

Using the library
Before beginning development, design the library structure and agree as a team on how to use the library. It is important that all team members know how to use the library efficiently in order to effectively store documents where they were intended to be stored. Again, it is important to document the library design and use. This might be a second section in your development strategy.

When designing your library structure, the simpler the better. Just like using the Internet, you don’t want to have to click 10 levels down to get to what you want or need. The same holds true here. Keep the number of folder levels small. It is best to have three or fewer clicks to get to what is needed. Overcomplicating the structure will lead to confusion and frustration. Design a structure that works for you, but keep it as simple.

You can organize your library any way you like, by project, author, module, role, document type or any combination. The important thing is to take the time to consider all options and design the best structure for your project before you begin developing.

Once your design is confirmed, assign someone mind the library structure. That individual should be responsible for creating the structure in the library and maintaining it. Maintenance of the library is just as important as the design. If you don’t maintain the library according to your design, documents get lost and rework takes over. In addition, it is important to watch for and correct broken links that can occur when someone deletes a document from the library. You can use the “unlink” feature to help with this.

If you import content from another library, the import feature adopts the structure of the content being imported. It does not adopt the library structure for which the files are being imported into. So align your library structures before importing to make it easier and cleaner.

Finally, use your naming conventions. Structure and standards provide comfort and security to your team, knowing that if they follow the defined structure, naming conventions and other standards, they will remain organized, can find what they are looking for and minimize rework.

Using the outline editor
Keep the end result in mind when creating the outline structure. Think about how you want to distribute your documents or how you want to package them for the audience. This should be the framework for building structure in the outline editor. There are many ways to do this, by module, role, function, et cetera. Again, there is no right or wrong answer. Just organize according to what you want to deliver to your audience in the end.

Many people want to know where it is best to do their work, in the outline editor or the library. It really is a matter of preference.

Using the outline editor, links to other documents are created automatically. In the library, you have to create the links from your document to other documents. My preference is to use the outline editor because I don’t have to think about how to link my documents or what to do if I delete a document from the outline editor. My links are automatically created. I always go back and double check my links after I have deleted a document, just to ensure that no other links were broken by deleting that document. You can also use the unlink feature before deleting.

Remember, if you delete a document from the outline editor, it does not remove it from the library. The document will remain in the library, so if it was linked to more than one document, those other links remain in place. As above, check to be sure the other links did not break

Publishing is performed as needed. When documents are first created and you are ready to produce your outputs, you can publish your materials. During publishing, you have the opportunity to choose the outputs you want. You can select them all or only a few. Once you publish, there is no need to republish until you have updates to the topics. Some recommendations:

  • Designate one or two “publishers” who are responsible for publishing all content.
  • Create a formal change request (maintenance and support) process.
  • Republish when needed for maintenance.

Laying out a UPK project
It is important to create rules and standards for your project and even more important to ensure accountability for following them. Make sure everyone on the team understands rules and standards, and monitor work to ensure all who are collaborating within the multi-user environments adhere to them. Otherwise, you have spent a lot of time planning for no reason.

Establish the security path that is right for your organization. Determine if you need to be restrictive to begin or if you can tighten the restrictions as you go. You can always adjust the security as needed. The key is to put some thought into it and design your security path so that individuals can perform their jobs effectively and efficiently.

Using the check in and check out features appropriately will also allow staff to work effectively and efficiently. It also helps to view who else might have input to certain documents as you see who has a document checked out. In addition, administrators can view check-in and check-out history.

When building the outline and library structure, keep it as simple as possible. Don’t over complicate the layout by having too much structure in place. Sometimes, less is more.

It is best to plan in advance of the start of your development. The more you plan, the more organized you will be. The more organized you are, the more efficient and effective your team will be. There is a lot to think about to prepare for your development work. Just remember that if you have a team, whether all in the same office or disparate, you can effectively collaborate using best business practices in a multi-user environment.

Lissa English is the global instructional design manager at Alticor, parent company of Amway Corp. She is a member of the Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG) board of directors and serves on a number of the organization's functional committees and special interest groups (SIGs).

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