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  From the March 2016 Issue of Prestwood eMag
 
Client Prestwood Portfolio:
EHW Content Manager: Prestwood Portfolio
 
Posted 10 years ago on 1/6/2009
Take Away:

Employee Handbook Writer, a custom application created by Prestwood for The California Chamber of Commerce, delivers a wealth of crucial legal documents to its end users.

Because of ever-changing legislation and regulations, CA Chamber needs to be able to update EHW's content at least once a year.

EHW Content Manager is a utility Prestwood created to cut this task down to size.

KB101796



Employee Handbook Writer (EHW), a custom program created by Prestwood for The California Chamber of Commerce, delivers "tons" of information to its users. The program's content consists of over three hundred "policies" available for inclusion in custom handbooks - the purpose of EHW.

These policies originate as professionally-written, Rich Text Format (RTF) documents.  In addition to the policies, there are corresponding policy help files, HTML documents that go along with the policies.

EHW uses a database to hold policies, policy help, and a handful of other important resources.

Because this content is legal in nature, and because government and regulatory agencies promulgate changes and new policies on a never-ending basis, the content for EHW has to be updated at least yearly.

As you can imagine, the business of organizing all this material, and getting it into an updated database, is a potentially huge task.

To make it easier for Chamber to manage EHW content, Prestwood created a utility program, EHW Content Manager.

This is the utility's main screen:

EHW Content Manager Main Screen

Chamber staff use this form to specify the location of the target database (usually a copy of the prior year's database), and the locations of all the document files and resources.  With those locations specified, the Content Manager is ready to do its magic.

This is the utility's Policy Manager form:

EHW Content Manager Policy Form 

Using this form, Chamber staff can create new policy and policy sections in the database, and set important properties for each policy.  As they navigate the policy tree, the content viewers at the bottom of the screen allow them to validate the content.

 This utility provides a number of other vital functions.  Among them:

  • Policy help (HTML) files may contain hyperlinks to other files, and to web sites.  The utility includes a function to validate all those hyperlinks, and reports any problems with them.
  • Changes to existing policies don't always require a visit to the Policy Manager screen.  A function, called "Refresh All Policies," iterates over the database records and automatically updates each record.

Why bother storing all these documents in a database?  There are two primary reasons:

1: The database allows Chamber to "protect" the policies they're provided.  In other words, end users are never allowed to alter the original policies.  They can edit copies of original policies, but by "locking" the originals, Chamber's legal interests are protected.

2: Easier deployment.  Instead of having to account for and install hundreds and hundreds of discrete files, we only need to deploy a handful of database tables.  This lowers Chamber's long term cost of ownership because EHW's installation program requires only minimal changes for each version of EHW.

The EHW Content Manager is an example of how Prestwood Software can simplify the ownership and management of custom-built, commercial software.

To learn more about Employee Handbook Writer, itself, see the link below this article.

More Info

Article:  Employee Handbook Writer: Prestwood Portfolio

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Article Contributed By Wes Peterson:

Wes Peterson is a Senior Programmer Analyst with Prestwood IT Solutions where he develops custom Windows software and custom websites using .Net and Delphi. When Wes is not coding for clients, he participates in this online community. Prior to his 10-year love-affair with Delphi, he worked with several other tools and databases. Currently he specializes in VS.Net using C# and VB.Net. To Wes, the .NET revolution is as exciting as the birth of Delphi.

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