What’s new in UPK 12.1?
This blog introduces you to the new features of UPK 12.1.
There’s no denying I’ve been a fan of UPK since I started working with it seven years ago. It is a thorough, reliable and adaptable tool – complex to use, at times, but for the good reason that it’s full of useful features. UPK has grown in functionality over the years, with some significant changes being made, but this new version, UPK 12.1, may well be the most exciting release yet.
Better styling for Web Pages
The content in Web Pages can be styled in a number of ways in UPK 12.1. You can include fully formatted tables, and bulleted or numbered lists in multiple levels (lists used to be only one level). You can apply styles to the content, for example by identifying multiple heading levels (Heading 1, Heading 2, etc). You can then use Style Sheets to consistently format that content throughout your whole project.
Those of you familiar with designing or building websites will recognise that these new features make use of HTML and CSS. The Style Sheet Editor in UPK 12.1, however, enables authors to format each style using toolbar buttons, so you can achieve visually engaging content without needing to know how to code.
Masking data or adding images to topics
The new Screenshot Overlay feature in UPK 12.1 is particularly exciting. This takes a topic from the Topic Editor into Microsoft PowerPoint, where you can add any images you like to a layer that sits over the original screenshot. You can use this to:
- mask sensitive data, by drawing a Shape over that area of the screen,
- create a call-out and add text to draw attention to an item, or
- add an image such as a corporate logo or other branding.
Once the image has been inserted or drawn on one frame, the Overlay Editor makes it easy to copy the image to other frames in the topic. The added images remain in a separate layer, so that you can either edit the overlay or recapture the screenshot independently of each other.
I’m sure you’re already imagining all kinds of creative and practical uses for UPK 12.1!
Customising the Player
You can now customise many aspects of the Player using a Skin, instead of directly customising the Player style. This means you don’t have to recreate your customisations every time the Developer is updated to a new version.
You can use a Skin to customise the appearance and behaviour of the Player interface and of the topic bubbles. You can also amend the various bits of text used in the Player and topics. Oracle has included an alternate Gray skin which demonstrates how far you can take the customisation! It provides a much cleaner and more modern design than the Player style we are used to.
Helping you work in UPK
There are a number of new features in UPK 12.1 which make your work as an author easier. One is that you can now preview a topic from the Library as well as from the Outline Editor.
When setting the initial Content Defaults you can now choose the default play modes for the topics you create. If you know that you won’t be using Do It! mode for your topics, for example, you can deselect it right from the start. As with other default settings, you can amend the play modes for individual topics and documents as needed.
If you are using In-Application Support, you can now also set the default view for the Player. Do you want the user to see a list of applicable topics, the applicable topics in a filtered Outline, or all topics? You can choose the default, and then the user can change the view if they wish to.
All sound files in UPK 12.1 are now delivered in AAC format, which offers a high quality sound file across a broad range of devices, at a reasonable file size. You no longer need to decide between different qualities or types of sound files.
Another feature that will save you time is that the Publishing Wizard Summary Page does not automatically close once you have published the content and chosen what to do next. You can now play the content, if you want to, and then return to the Summary Page to use another link to open the PlayerPackage folder. The Wizard remains open until you close it.
Finding your content
The new Context ID Search feature in UPK 12.1 enables you to search for all topics that include a specific Context ID. This will be very useful when there is a change to a certain screen in the target application, and you need to quickly work out which topics will need editing. The search results even provide the specific Frame IDs involved.
The new Derived Documents pane identifies any topics that have been ‘derived’ or duplicated (using Paste Special) from another topic. Again, if one topic needs editing, then the chances are that any topics created by duplicating the original will also need updating. This includes, for example, topics created as part of a localisation / translation process.
You can now select any document listed in the Related Documents or Derived Documents panes, and use the Find in Library feature to go directly to the document’s location in the Library.
Doing more in the Topic Editor
When editing topics in UPK 12.1, you can now select multiple frames and then either delete or cut-and-paste them (you used to only be able to copy them).
Another terrific new feature is that you can add Jump-in Points to Explanation frames and Decision frames as well as Action frames. I think that will be really useful, as I often find that an Explanation frame marks the start of a new section in a long topic.
You can also add a Print Area to a frame, which will define the visual element for that step in a document such as the Job Aid. The default is that the visual element is based on the action area, but sometimes that is too large for the purpose, or it doesn’t provide enough information or context.
The user’s experience
UPK 12.1 is now more ‘touch-friendly’ for users of mobile devices, especially for Apple iPad. The Player Outline, the Knowledge Center and all topic Play Modes can now be accessed this way.
The user’s interaction with See It! mode has been transformed. This mode now contains navigation controls which will be intuitively familiar to users who have watched videos online. Much of this functionality was available via the bubble and the Actions menu, but it’s far more obvious now. An added bonus is both visual and numeric indicators of the elapsed time and the total duration of the topic.
The user’s ability to Share links from either the Player or within a topic is also much improved. The user can share a link, for example, that takes their colleague directly to a specific frame within a topic.
UPK 12.1 enables authors to create content that really engages the user in both style and substance. I hope this article prompts you to explore the possibilities.