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The Problem With Black Box Document Assembly

The Problem With Black Box Document Assembly

May 31, 2007 Dahna Ori Document Generation  

One of the favorite excuses for not using a document generation system is that users don't trust it. It's too much of a black box. The system makes you answer a bunch of questions. You wait... The system spits out a document. And that's that. Bad luck if you want to know why clause 8.3 is twice as long as it was last time you used the system. Bad luck if you were wondering what happened when you said "yes" to question 11.

With this in mind, making document generation less like a black box, and more transparent to users, has always been a high priority at Exari. With Exari, we take several steps forward on this front.

First, we've added a dynamic progress meter that shows you a list of topics to be covered during the virtual interview, and which topic you're up to at any point in time. If you make choices that change the flow of the interview, the progress meter updates itself, showing any new topics and removing any that are no longer relevant. It also shows a running tally of how many questions you've answered, and how many remain.

Second, we've used the latest in web technology (AJAX) to make the whole interview process more responsive and more informative. If one answer triggers a follow-up question, then it dynamically appears as you make your choice, so you get to see instantly the consequences of making that choice.

And when the interview ends, Exari's interactive web preview lets you see every optional clause or phrase in the document, with a pop-up note explaining why each item is there.

Black boxes may be great for the airline industry. But for document generation, people like to know what's going on.


Dahna Ori is Exari’s Digital Marketing Specialist. Reach out on twitter @ExariDahna