The xMasterDoc Project  

(Under Construction)


What is xMasterDoc ?

xMasterDoc is a framework and the related tools to automatically generate documentation.
Including Content Filtering for targeted audiences, and Language Translation on the process.
Its initial purpose was creating and maintaining Training Materials. All the PowerShell, Faster and other courses have been created with it during the last 5 years.




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(but also any generic documents... anything that can be considered data and stored in files)

 

What do we consider as "Documentation" ?

The definition pretends to be as generic as possible : Any set of information containing Pictures and Text, organized in sequential Pages, and stored as files.

In this implementation, the source files are PowerPoint decks. We've chosen PowerPoint as it is well know and easy to use by any content editor.

The final generated files can be PowerPoint, but also Word and PDF.

 

Which problems does it try to solve ?

The most important issue is Document Dispersion.

Windows and Office create lazy users. We tend to look for the easiest, quickest solution to our problems... so when we need a similar document for a similar purpose (a different customer, a different language...), we make a copy of a previous document (maybe in a different folder or with a different name), and we edit on the copy.

As there is no procedure, no long-term document workflow... everybody in the company does the same thing. And soon we end having lots of dissimilar copies, scattered in many different places... and edited by uncontrolled people.  Documents follow their own path !

If we have now to improve the document... it's impossible to find all copies, and very time-consuming. Maybe there is not even a "last-version" document, as the changes were made in different versions.

If you like to set permissions on this information, or make a simple backup for all important documents... it can become impossible.

 

How to avoid Document Dispersion ?

By keeping all knowledge in a centralized location, typically a single folder (which can be shared, or not).

All files in that location follow a Master Scheme... they are designed to be the Unique Master Copy. From that Master, we can generate subsets for specific targets and purposes. But the original source is intended to be unique : changes shouldn't be done on the generated subsets.

To handle all targets, possibilities, languages... the Master documents include behaviour Tags. We can include a manual, a customer, a difficulty, a duration... or many other filtering possibilities, in each slide.

The tool will generate the intended documentation for the master, totally unattended !

Then backups and permissions can be set on the Master repositories.

 

Which Tags are available ?

The original tags are thought for Manuals, Courses, Workshops, and in general didactic materials.

So there are Tags to indicate the Course Name, difficulty level, Prerequirites and dependencies, Labs, Solutions, CHallenges...

All of them provide a Leanring Context to all activities. Now a Slide can describe a problem and the next one be a solution... and you can generate a manual with only the questions, or the solutions, or both.

There's also the separation for information for Students, Trainers, and Editors. Each role can see a different set of documentation. For example, you can add "Messages" for trainers, so they can know what to teach ... and the students won't see that part.

The Tags are also useful in other scenarios... next version will offer a free-form Tag Set so every company can define their own.

 

What about Globalization and Languages ?

This is another important issue in today's globalized world. Sometimes your documentation must be kept in several languages, or consider different cultural facts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is Edugen ? -> The old name given to XMasterDoc.

What is PPTControl ?

How does it work ?

Store documents in a single centralized location,
Adding metadata (Content Tags or Training Objects) to them.
Filter those contents based on the Tags, generating  subsets for specific purposes or target audiences
Translate the documents in the process, with an improved quality algorithm.

The current implementation uses Windows (tested in 7 or 8), and Office 2013


 

Which problems tries to solve ?

1. Dispersion

   Imagine this frequent scenario.

   You have a document designed for a specific purpose : a customer presentation, a course lesson, a manual... whatever.

   Now someone in your team needs this document, but slighlty modified to suit some other customer, target or task. What we usually do is creating a copy from the original document (just in case), and begin editing on the new one, usually by cut & copy & paste. Maybe it's just adding more contents, removing irrelevant things, and editing customer references... or just a better formatting.

   The process repeats itself, maybe many times... every time, a slightly different copy is created. Each copy will contain a different subset of changes, with no track... and what's worse, these copies can be scattered in many different places : your server, some subdirectories, or a USB pen drive, or the local drives of someone's laptop...

   Each document follows a different path. Completely undesigned, uncoordinated... and this seems to be the logical way to do it, as it seems the simplest approach for lazy humans ... a short term solution.

   Now imagine you need the latest version. Of course, there's not a single "latest version"... one copy can contain some changes, but other changes can be in a different instance.

   If you'd like to add an improvement, a new version or ideaa, fix an error... you'd have to do it in every copy (assuming you can find all of them)... and start a tedious, repetitive process in all files, editing, re-applying the formatting... over and over again.

   PPTControl and EduGen solve this problem-  The framework sets some strict rules for you. Master Documents can only be in a single place, so everybody has to edit there (and generate all the temporary, read-only local copies as needed)

2. Cultural and Language Issues

    The world is now globalized. Everybody tries to sell their products and services to other cultures... but there's plenty of different languages.

    English 

 

Generic or Specific documents ?

   The key idea is being as generic as possible.

   But on the other hand, adding a context for Learning which is not present in the default Office documents 

 

 

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