Supporting a component-based product


“Energetic Eaglets LLC” makes a suite of social media analytics tools. When the company got started, they had only one product—a tool for tracking business mentions on MySpace. But today, Energetic Eaglets offers a variety of products for dozens of social media tools, including blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and, most recently, Pinterest. Larger companies generally license the enterprise tools, but a web-based light version is also available for small businesses.

The problem

Technical authors have been using HTML editors to create separate sets of web pages for each product. However, that approach is no longer sustainable because the product variations have increased substantially. Currently, there are approximately 16,000 pages of HTML documentation. The 20 technical authors cannot easily determine if another author has already written content about a feature shared across product lines, so there are multiple versions of what should be identical content.

With customers licensing lots of different product combinations, Energetic Eaglets needs the ability to quickly deliver tailored web content to customers who can switch product licenses whenever they want—and the technical information users receive should change accordingly.


The solution

A component-based product line requires a component-based content strategy. For Energetic Eaglets, this means rethinking information as belonging to various products, identifying areas where there is reuse or overlap, rewriting information to maximize the reuse possibilities, and then developing a system that delivers information based on a customer’s current list of products.

Component-based content strategy

The solution requires the following:

  • Component-based content that matches the architecture of the product lines.
  • The ability to assign metadata to content that reflects product variants.
  • The ability to filter information based on customer characteristics and product variants.
  • The ability to generate customized information collections for each customer profile.

To meet these requirements, Energetic Eaglets will convert (and in some cases, rewrite) its content into XML-based chunks containing the metadata for filtering. The company will use a cloud content management system to manage the source files. Based on a customer’s licensing profile, an automated process will dynamically create web pages from the source content.

The business case

Energetic Eaglets will implement a cloud-based content management system that has annual licensing, so cost estimates include both the one-time initial implementation costs and CMS licensing for the first two years.

Table 1. Implementation cost
Item Year 1 Year 2
Cloud CMS (licensing for one year; includes web-based authoring tool) $30,000 $30,000
Analyze content to determine metadata approach and shared information $5,000
Convert HTML source pages into component storage (XML) with automatic addition of metadata based on file names $25,000
Add metadata to XML topics where automatic conversion fails (2,000 topics x 5 minutes per topic @ $50/hour) $8,000
Design and implement dynamic HTML output $25,000
Follow-on support (refinement of dynamic HTML output) $5,000
Web services support for dynamic output (maintenance and tuning, 10 hours/month @ $100/hour) $12,000 $12,000
Author training on component-based content $6,000
TOTAL $111,000 $47,000
On the positive side, Energetic Eaglets realizes cost savings from reuse and the ability to deliver the required component-based content.

Table 2. Return on investment
Item Cost savings and revenue generated
Elimination of maintenance of redundant content (2,000 topics @ 1 hour per topic @ $50/hour) $100,000
Eliminate manual production of variants based on licensing changes (100 changes per year, 4 hours per variant, $50/hour) $20,000
Add ability to change documentation immediately based on user profile and metadata instead of waiting for manual update, thus reducing technical support calls (2 calls fewer per change at $50/call) $10,000
Improved customer satisfaction and market share based on sophisticated content support system that matches company positioning (for a $10M product, a 0.5% increase in market share) $5,000
TOTAL $135,000


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