(Community Justice National Training Organisation)

On-line documentation case study



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 completed work.

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 Welsh version.

SUMMIT's involvement

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 AND conflict)
  • 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 creative approach

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.