The CJNTO, like most other NTOs, are responsible for developing
and publishing National Occupational Standards and S/NVQ awards.
As well as publishing in hardcopy, CJNTO wanted to provide
their documentation on a CD, not simply by putting PDF or Word
documents onto it, rather they wanted something which would be
more interactive and help its users find their way through the
material to enable them to make better choices.
The project would involve about 150 occupational standards, 6
NVQ award structures and detailed mappings of individual standards
to Key Skills. In addition there would be a variety of other
background and informative material. In total it was estimated
that there would be about 1,500 pages of information in the
As a final chestnut, the CJNTO intended to publish a Welsh
version of the CD and wanted to optimise the development of the
English version in some way to minimise the cost of producing the
SUMMIT was introduce to the CJNTO via SPRITO, for whom SUMMIT
had previously carried out several projects which had involved
NVQs and standards. After discussions to understand the
requirement, SUMMIT proposed a solution based upon Microsoft's
HTMLHelp documentation tool.
This is a very powerful tool for building on-line
documentation. It provides the ability to have:
Structured and dynamic table of contents
Full text search facility using words, phrases and logical combinations (e.g. client
A favourites or bookmarking facility
A keyword index
Hyperlinks between pages allowing dynamic cross referencing to related subjects
Pop-ups which can be used to provide a glossary or additional information.
As the tool's name suggests, the individual source pages are encoded
using HTML - the language of web pages - which was no problem for
SUMMIT given its background in web development.
A way of approaching the conversion of the source documentation
(which was Word documents) into a form suitable for the HTMLHelp
tool presented itself through the fact that SUMMIT understood the
structure of the standards and was experienced in database design.
Essentially, each of the 150 standards was broadly in the same
structure, consisting of similar sections, sub-sections and
paragraphs. This immediately suggested a database approach with
some software that would format the text automatically into the
final HTML form for putting into the HTMLHelp tool.
Another benefit of this approach was that the text in the
database could be translated into Welsh and the same software used
to generate the Welsh version of the pages. Plus, any future
updates to the standards could be turned around very quickly and
cheaply by the same means.
A database was designed which could store all of the text from
the standards in a structured fashion and then the text from the
Word documents was transferred into it. The software was written
and the HTML files generated automatically.
Following reviews with the customer, the format and layout of
the generated pages were amended a few times but because of the
database/software approach, these changes took minutes to make -
not bad for 900+ pages.
The other background and informational pages were then created,
some of which also used the database information, and the final CD
publication was produced and put on sale.
For the Welsh version, SUMMIT provided the translation agency
with a simple software user interface which presented each segment
of text from the database to the translator who would then enter
the translation directly into the database. The software would
quickly scan the rest of the text in the database and
automatically translate any identical text sections (the standards
do have several repetitive sections so this reduced the
translation effort quite significantly).
Once the translation was completed, the same software was run
to generate the required HTML files and the Welsh version of the
CD followed soon after for a fraction of the cost of the original
English version (excluding the cost of the text translation).
A demonstration of this on-line documentation (in English) is
available by clicking here.