User Productivity Kit - Powerful Packages (Part 2)

In my first post on packages I described what a package is and how it can be used. I also started explaining some of the considerations that should be taken into account when determining how to arrange your packages. The first is when the files are interrelated and depend on one another such as an HTML file and it's graphics.

A second consideration is how the files are used in your outlines. Let's say you're using a dozen Word doc files. You could place them all in a single package or put each Word doc file in a separate package but what's the right thing to do? There are several factors that will influence your decision.

To understand the first, let me explain a function of UPK publishing. Take an outline in UPK that has an attachment (concept, frame link, or hyperlink) that points to a file in a package. When you publish this outline, the publishing engine will determine that there is a link to a file in the package and copy the contents of the package to the publishing destination directory. This is done to ensure that any interrelated files are kept together. For the situation where you have an HTML file with links to number of graphics files, this is a good thing. If, however, the package has a dozen unrelated Word doc files and you link to only one of them, all dozen Word documents will be copied to the publishing destination directory. 

Whether or not this is a good thing is dependent on two things. First, are all of the files in the package used in the outline that you're publishing? Take an outline that includes links to all of the Word documents in that dozen document package I described earlier. For this situation, you may choose to keep all the files in a single package for convenience.

A second consideration is how your organization leverages reuse in UPK. In this context, I'm referring to the link style of reuse such as when you link to the same topic from multiple UPK outlines and changes to the topic appear in both places. Take an example where you have the earlier mentioned dozen Word document package and an outline with a dozen topics in it. Each topic has an attachment pointing to one of the Word documents in the package (frame link, concept, etc.) If you're only publishing this outline, the single package probably works fine but what if you're reusing one of these topics in another outline? As I explained earlier, linking to one file in the package will result in all files in the package being copied to your published output. In this example, linking to one topic in the first outline will result in all dozen Word documents being copied to the published output. This may result in files in the output that you don't want there for business or size reasons.

This is a situation in which you should consider placing each of the Word documents in it's own separate package. With each document in it's own package, that link to a single document will result in only that single package and single Word document being copied to the published output.

In my last post I had described that packages are documents in the UPK library. When using the multi-user version of the UPK Developer you can leverage standard library capabilities for managing the files in these packages during the development process - capabilities such as check in / check out, history, etc. When structuring your packages take into consideration how the authors are going to be adding, modifying and deleting files from the packages.

A single package is a single document in the UPK library. Like any other document in the library, a single user can check out the package and edit it at a time. If you have a large number of files in a single package and these must be modified by many users, you need to consider whether this will cause problems as multiple users compete to update the same package. If the files don't depend on each other consider placing the files in separate packages to reduce contention.

I hope you've enjoyed these two posts on how you can leverage the power of packages in your content. In summary, consider the following when structuring your packages:

Is the asset a single, standalone file or a set of files that depend on each other?

Will all the files always be used together in a single outline or may only some of the files be needed based on how the content is reused across multiple outlines?

Will multiple developers need to update the files in a single package or should you break it into multiple packages to reduce contention when checking out the document?

We'd like to hear from you on how you're using packages in your content. Please add your comments below!

Thank you and I hope these two posts have given you additional insights into how to use packages in your content and structure them for efficient use.

John Zaums
Senior Director, Product Development
Oracle User Productivity Kit

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The authors of this blog are members of the UPK product development, management, and marketing teams. On this blog, you'll find UPK news, tips/tricks, upcoming events, and general information on UPK - the easy-to-use, comprehensive content development, deployment, and maintenance platform for increasing project, program, and user productivity.

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