User Productivity Kit - Powerful Packages (Part 1)

User Productivity Kit provides the ability to create a variety of content types including robust topics on system process and web pages with formatted text and graphics. There are times when you want to enhance content with media types not natively created by User Productivity Kit, media types such as video, custom animations, forms, and more.

One method of doing this is to maintain these media files on a web server - separate from the User Productivity Kit player content and link to the files using absolute URLs such as http://myserver/overview.html. While this will get you going, you won't benefit from the content management capabilities of the UPK Developer. Features such as check-in / check-out, history, document properties, folder permissions and more are not available to this external content. Further, if you ever need to move that content to a server with a different name or domain, you'd need to update all your links.

UPK version 3.1 introduced a new document type - the package. A package is a group of folders and files that you manage in the Developer library as a single document. These package documents work in the same manner as any other document in the library and you can use all of the collaborative content development features you see with other document types.

Packages can be used for anything from single Word documents, PDF files, and graphics to more intricate sets of inter-related files commonly seen with HTML files and their graphics, style sheets, and JavaScript files. The structure of the files and folders within a package will always be preserved so this means that any relative links between files in the package will work. For example, an HTML file containing an image tag with a relative link to a graphic elsewhere in the same package will continue to function properly both when viewed in the Developer and when published to outputs such as the UPK Player. Once you start to use packages, you'll soon discover that there is a lot of existing content that can be re-purposed by placing it into UPK packages.

Packages are easily created by selecting File...New...Package. Files can be added in a number of ways including the "Add Files" button, copy & paste from Windows Explorer, and drag & drop. To use one of the files in the package, just create a link to the file in the package you want to target. This is supported throughout the Developer in places such as section & topic concepts, frame links and hyperlinks in web pages.

A little more challenging is determining how to structure packages in your library. As I mentioned earlier, a package can contain anything from a single file to dozens of files and folders. So what should you do? You could create a package for each file. You could create one package for all your files. But which one is right? Well, there's not a right and wrong answer to this question. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. The right decision will be influenced by the package files themselves, the structure of the content in the library, the size and working style of the development team, how content is shared between different outlines and more.

The first consideration can be assessed the quickest. If the content to be placed in the package is composed of multiple files and those files reference each other, they should be in the same package. There are loads of examples of this type of content. HTML files with graphics and style sheets, HTML files with embedded Flash movies, and Word documents saved as HTML are all examples where the content is composed of multiple files and the files reference each other in some way. Content like this should always be placed in a singe package such that these relative links between the files are preserved and play properly in the UPK Player.

In upcoming posts, I'll explain additional considerations.


Good post. Waht could be a consideration is that if you have a package with a lot of files (e.g. a package images) and you embed one of the images from this package in a webpage in the UPK, the whole package will be published. Also if you look for an image, you have to search in the package and if the names are coded (e.g 01.gif), it's a little bit hard to do. On the other hand, I do not like to have all images in separate packages because I can't bulk upload/ edit them on my PC. So a group (e.g. 32x32icons, logos, purchase_docs etc) is sometimes a better idea. If the package contains a PDF file or an MS Office file saves as a webpage, I usually also add the source document in the package. If I have to change something I only have to open the package, edit the original document and save it also as PDF or webpage. The same for other e-learning material, but if the source is too big, it might be better to save the source to a separate package, prevending that the wource content is also published.

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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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