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Oracle Open World 2009 – Day 4

Posted on by Brent Lowe

Well, Oracle Open World is officially over and after a red-eye flight I’m back home. No keynotes or any special events on Thursday, just a final blitz of sessions and then back to work to apply what I’ve learned.

What I enjoy most about Open World is the exposure you get to different technology. While I may not always use the information right away, I have found myself going back to notes from previous years in search of solutions. I try to vary my schedule to hit on a lot of different themes that I feel will be applicable for STR Software both now and in the future. This week I’ve looked at the latest in development tools, development practices, database technology, new applications that Oracle has acquired and the latest for the applications we currently develop against today.

One tool that I will not be squirreling away in my notes for later is the Oracle User Productivity Kit (UPK). I’m not sure how I first became aware of this tool, but I have had my eye on it for awhile. I attended a hands-on-lab Thursday morning regarding UPK and now cannot wait to explore it further. UPK is essentially a tool that allows you to record training steps to provide self service help/training for common situations in just about any application. For example, walking a user through creating a Purchase Order in E-Business Suite.

Once a training topic is created, the finished product is really slick, users have the opportunity to:

  • See It: Watch a video of the steps to complete a task
  • Try It: Be lead through the task (interactively) in a simulated environment
  • Know It: Be tested on the material
  • Do It: Complete the task on their own with guidance from the tool.
  • and finally Print It: To get a hardcopy if necessary.

This particular hands-on-lab had us create a quick tutorial to register for a website login. I was really surprised at how easy it was to create the material and then publish it for use.

So aside from the gushing review here, how does this apply to me?

After review of support tickets raised from our customers, one of things we have been evaluating for inclusion into our product (AventX) is context sensitive help for common configuration scenarios, general usage and education. We want to provide users with a self service help facility that can be used to solve problems, implement the software and train end users. This tool gives me exactly what I need to do that, all within the native application. In addition, it gives me the tools to also create training and better help facilities on our other non-Oracle based products as well as create internal training for our own staff.

But of course there is a caveat. Talking with the product manager about how I would go about licensing UPK, they currently do not have a license model for our situation (i.e. independent software vendor that is developing content for distribution to outside clients). The good news is that Oracle has other inquiries along this front and is considering offering a licensing option that would fit this scenario. You can bet I will be calling them next week to keep this ball rolling!

Now, time to finish typing up my notes so I can actually read them when I go back to them and then I’ll call it a week.

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