Personalization by Configuration

A User Assistance Vision Not Yet Implemented…

by Doug Williams

This is an interesting presentation on something that I’ve rarely seen done well. Content developers often use conrefs or keyrefs (or SDL variables) to make things easier for themselves. Conditions (in Docbook, and in SDL) are often used to generate slightly different versions of the same document for a platform, or for a release. But these are typically more software-descriptive fixes to ease a technical developer’s life than they are user deployment-specific content development and presentation to ease a developer’s life. An article I read a few years ago had the catchy title “Documentation: Not Yet Implemented but Coming Soon …” I feel that way about DITA documentation–though to be fair if you bought the whole SDL stack, including SDL’s Tridion Sites, it has a configuration database engine to enable assembly of content personalized by customer ID that is intended to work with SDL conditions to deliver precisely this kind of personalization, and in their case, with a chatbot and automatic marketing collatoral AI docwriter, too. We also have done something like this configuration database personalization with Oracle Support. However, first convince someone to buy the whole SDL stack, or to develop in-house this kind of capability…or to work across organization silos to enable the kind of collaborative work with field support and site management and content production that this kind of content delivery requires…or to obtain the budget and resources necessary to implement it…or to obtain executive sponsorship that death or reorganization doesn’t change. Now that RWS (translation specialists) have taken over SDL, it remains uncertain even if SDL will maintain this vision–few customers seem to have the imagination or initiative to begin to do more than scratch the surface with what can be done with technology. No, not yet implemented–but coming soon, someday.

Configuration Database Enables Automatic Assembly of Technical Documentation