Why upgrade to UPK 12.1 ESP 3?
New UPK enhancements since version 12.1
Oracle User Productivity Kit - UPK 12.1 ESP 3 has just been released and is now available for download from the Oracle Software Delivery Cloud. Many existing UPK Developers may not yet have taken advantage of earlier service pack releases in version 12.1, so this is an opportune time to provide a summary of some of the key features and functions available since the release of UPK 12.1. As an existing UPK Developer perhaps working with an earlier version of the tool, this will help you to understand what benefits you may realise from upgrading to the latest version.
The upgrade process
There is no cost to upgrade your version of UPK to the latest UPK 12.1 ESP 3, assuming you have a valid maintenance and support contract with Oracle. When you upgrade all of your content is automatically upgraded, although bespoke player publishing styles may require manual re-editing after the upgrade process. When we undertake upgrades on behalf of our clients we always test that as part of the upgrade process. We provide services to install, configure, migrate content and test the environment. We also offer upgrade as well as full Developer training courses either on site or in London as a scheduled course.
Let’s cast our minds back to UPK 12.1
UPK 12.1 ESP 3 comes just over two years after the release of UPK version 12.1, back in Spring 2014. This release stirred up quite a bit of excitement amongst our UPK Development team, as you will see from Julie Bozza’s blog, as it enabled authors to create content that really engaged the user in both style and substance.
Oracle categorised their enhancements into Conceptual Content, Managing Complex Content, Mobile Workforce and Content Development. Some of the changes were enhancements of existing features whilst others provided exciting new functionality.
When you are developing your Concept Area, you will usually create a Web Page Area but prior to UPK 12.1 the editing tool offered limited functionality as bullets and tables couldn’t be created nor could you set a specific style. Style sheets were also introduced for web pages to enable you to create a defined style for your web pages, ensuring a consistent look and feel across content.
Managing complex content
As you may know whenever UPK captures content from a target application there is a context ID which is stamped on a frame by frame basis. From UPK 12.1, you can actually search for that ID. For example, if your content had been updated and this affected a particular screen, you can search for the context ID of that particular screen and also search for all topics within your Library that are using that particular context ID. This provides a great time saving for authors managing large amounts of content.
The Derived Documents Pane was a key enhancement, particularly if you translate content or if you have a master version of a topic that is used throughout different modules and sections. This enables you to see all topics that have been created using a particular topic, invaluable if you need to update a particular topic that has been used across multiple courses.
iPad compatibility was further enhanced making it much more touch friendly with zooming and pinching features, etc. Since version 12.1, UPK will now recognise when it is an iPad that is accessing the content. In later versions further support is also offered to the Android tablet.
Not only a benefit for mobile users but desktop users too, See It Mode was completely changed in version 12.1. The introduction of a play-bar and very simple controls made the mode a lot more intuitive and user friendly, particularly to those who have experience of applications such as the iPlayer. This was the next step on from See it in a Window in version 11.
Content development enhancements
UPK 12.1 introduced a screen shot overlay providing a really useful feature for authors to enhance content. This is extremely beneficial if you have recorded lots of content and then find that the application has been rebranded but no other changes to the content are required. Previously you would need to either recapture screens or use an application such as Paint to replace the logo. This overlay feature allows you to bring that topic out to PowerPoint and mask data or content within frames.
Another beneficial feature for content development in UPK 12.1 is the ability to delete multiple frames. In previous versions you had to delete each frame individually.
Prior to UPK version 12.1 Jump-in Points could not be added to explanation frames. This was quite a challenge because logically you would most likely want to divide a long topic into neat sections, and the logical place to jump to would be an explanation frames. Now you can divide your topic up by explanation frames.
The look and feel of the User Interface in UPK could be changed prior to UPK 12.1, however if you had upgraded the player package between versions those changes were overwritten. The introduction of Player Skins in this version enables you to create a look and feel which will remain even when you upgrade in the future. You can set up multiple player skins, and simply select which skin you wish to use for the content under development.
The enhancements to the Share links feature are particularly useful to help desk users. It allows them to email a link to direct someone to individual topics, when the recipient clicks on the URL in the email, it opens up that specific topic – you can even have the URL open the topic at a specific point!
I haven’t outlined all of the new features and enhancements in UPK 12.1 here but if you would like to see a full demonstration take a look at our webinar recording on the subject!
Along came ESP 1
This first enablement service pack release came hot on the heels of version 12.1, in Autumn 2014, and these enhancements were outlined in Julie’s second blog. The key feature enhancements were around Print and Action areas, topic conversion to an MP4 format, as well as the addition of a question pool for your assessments to draw upon enabling you to randomise the allocation of questions for users.
Setting your own required mode
In ESP 1 an enhancement to LMS Required Mode enables you to set your own required mode for your LMS - previously by default this was Know It mode because UPK considered this more difficult. If you wanted the required mode to be another mode, you wouldn’t publish Know It mode. Now in this version, you can choose which mode to have as the required mode, i.e. the mode that the user must complete in order to pass.
Testing took a real step forward in ESP 1. There was always a test document in UPK that would allow you to have something such as an expected result for each step - you could publish that out and have someone run through it and make notes. From UPK 12.1 ESP 1 you can publish out the topic as a Test It mode and the Knowledge Center will then track that topic, so effectively you are using the Knowledge Center as your testing suite.
This feature can also be useful for the training team themselves. For example, if a large bank of content is created and the application is then updated, you can publish your entire topic list in Test It mode and mark out which steps in each topic need to be changed, providing a list for content updates.
Again, I haven’t outlined everything that was added in UPK 12.1 ESP 1, but our webinar recording provides a full demonstration.
Then came ESP 2
The second enablement service pack for UPK 12.1 was released during Oracle OpenWorld in October 2015 and again Julie provided a blog summarising the key features.
Exciting new Record It client
The new Record It client was the most exciting and beneficial enhancement in this release. Designed with SMEs and process owners in mind, this new application allows you to record UPK processes like a storyboard, with an auto record feature capturing the screens and processes.
In earlier versions of UPK, the Record It client was a simplified version of the full Developer client. It still linked to the Developer Library so you would need a profile to be set up in there in order to use it, and training was required as you needed to know how to record, edit and check in/out content. This new Record It client in ESP 2 is a much simpler interface to use and only works in automatic mode. For an SME who understands the processes but doesn’t have time to learn how to use the UPK Developer, they can use the Record It client to quickly capture the processes on the screen, with additional notes if needed, and send it to the UPK authors to use for development of the full content. The biggest advantage from a cost point of view is that you do not need a full Developer Licence to use this new Record It client, as long as you have an end user licence!
A very simple feature enhancement but really beneficial, offering improved navigation in both See It and Try It mode, is the use of the backspace key to move backwards in a topic. Previously you would have to click on the actions menu and manoeuvre using the options menu which was much more cumbersome.
Take a look at our webinar recording to see a full demonstration of UPK 12.1 enablement service pack 2.
Introducing ESP 3
I haven’t talked about compatibility with the previous releases of UPK 12.1 but the support for Windows 10 and the Edge browser, for recording and playback, in UPK 12.1 ESP 3 offers considerable benefit to UPK clients. If you tried to use UPK 12.1 ESP2 on Windows 10 it was a bit hit and miss. This latest service pack release also offers compatibility with Office 2016 for publishing content and the overlay editor.
A great new feature in UPK 12.1 ESP 3 allows you to import PowerPoint slide decks as well as export to PowerPoint. It takes the PowerPoint, creates a topic and every slide becomes an explanation frame in that topic. It won’t know what actions or links are required so you will still need to go into the topic and create these missing frames if required, but if offers a great starting point.
Enhancements to the Knowledge Center
There are some small but really valuable feature enhancements for the Knowledge Center in UPK 12.1 ESP 3, not only for end users but also for administrators.
The ability to hide the Ask the Expert link has been reinstated – this was available in v11.1 but then removed in version 12.1, so if you don’t have any Ask the Expert content you can now hide this feature to avoid confusing the users.
The restrictions on length of the Knowledge Path name has presented challenges to our UPK Developers in the past. The great news is in UPK 12.1 ESP 3 the maximum length of the path name has been extended to 255 characters.
In previous versions, content upload into the Knowledge Center could often time-out when importing player packages over 2GB in size. To mitigate this issue, in UPK 12.1 ESP 3, the KC now has the ability to upload content placed directly onto the KC Server file structure.
The user import utility in Knowledge Center no longer has a limit on the number of users you can import at one time. You can now also import users from multiple organisational units simultaneously, where previously these would have had to be imported by separate queries, saving you time
Finally, end users now have the ability to sort their list of ‘self-enrol’ Knowledge paths - not just Managers, which was the case in previous versions.
Further information about this latest release can be found on the Oracle website at: http://www.oracle.com/us/products/applications/user-productivity-kit/resources/index.html
The new documentation, including updated Technical Specification for UPK 12.1 ESP 3 is now available on the Oracle website at: http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/middleware/upk/documentation/index.html