Authors closely involved in the development of Kluwer’s new authoring tool

kluwercreatorimage_transparantsmallAuthors are Kluwer’s most important partners. They are experts in their field: when there is a change in the law, they know about it and what it entails, they understand the implications of judicial rulings and to which titles or segments they apply. In order to retain these valuable strengths and assets, Kluwer would like to assist them by making this process as easy as possible as well as providing them with the most up to date information. For this reason they have developed a new tool for authors: Kluwer Creator.

For a number of years Kluwer has provided a content storage and management system called PuMa. Kluwer Navigator is an interface that allows customers simple and easy access to the products to which they are subscribed. A further addition to this will now come in the form of Kluwer Creator: an online tool for authors that is fully xml based, but has the familiar appearance of Word.

Denise Koopmans is managing director at Legal & Regulatory: “We regularly ask our authors for feedback about whether our collaboration is to their satisfaction and if there are any points we could improve on. As a result of this feedback it came to our attention that the old tool for authors was unsatisfactory; it was too complicated. We therefore developed the new tool in close collaboration with the authors and publishers.”

Harrie van Luxemburg, COO: “In early 2012 we composed a list of prerequisites, the most important ones were that it be simple and easy to use as well as real-time and online. Hereby ensuring authors would have access to the correct, up-to-date version of a file at all times.

Koopmans: “Our customers choose our material because they know that the information is reliable, complete and up-to-date. Our credo is ‘When you have to be right’. This applies not only to our customers, but also to ourselves. We work with the best authors and to secure this bond we want to offer them the best tools.”

Agile development

This tool was developed at break-neck speed: there is but a year between the conclusion of the research into author’s wishes and expectations and the release of the tool.

Together with Liones we carried out the entire project according to the agile SCRUM method.

Van Luxemburg: “Together with Liones, the developers, we carried out the entire project according to the agile SCRUM method. Using this method means evaluating which steps to take on a two-weekly basis. Then the result is discussed and the next steps taken. This way feedback is quick and changes can be made to small elements that are easy to adjust. One no longer runs the risk of working on something for a year and a half only to find out that it hasn’t turned out as expected. Our authors have been involved every step of the way, therefore we weren’t surprised at their enthusiasm over the result but are nonetheless proud.”

It’s only possible if it’s permitted

Van Luxemburg: “The tool is a web-based xml editor with an interface that is reminiscent of Word. Our authors told us that they prefer working in familiar surroundings. As the authors type, this input is automatically checked against the xml scheme specific to that title which is running behind the scenes, meaning that they only work with the functions that they need for that specific section. For example, it is easy to insert hyperlinks, these are checked immediately. The result is directly viewable in the final lay-out, the way that the reader will eventually see it.”

When the author has finished editing, the text is automatically sent to the editor to be checked. After which Kluwer’s editorial office might make a few amendments before placing it online immediately.

Enthusiastic authors

The first release of Kluwer Creator is currently in use and the authors are enthusiastic. From now on, titles will gradually be added, each time consulting with the authors, editors and publishers to receive feedback. Improvements can be made almost instantaneously. Harrie van Luxemburg: “Due to our versatile approach we can deliver, test and edit in the blink of an eye. We do the preparation, Liones does the programming, editors and authors work with the product and provide feedback. When something is in need of improvement, the change is usually realized within two weeks. This is a very agreeable modus operandi.”

Kluwer Creator

The authors are very enthusiastic about the possibility of updating their articles themselves, Koopmans reiterates. “The editorial-committee discusses the material changes and decides who gets to edit which parts and at what time. Naturally all the members of the editorial-committee have a specialism; however changes to one legal section could have consequences for another. Certain segments might even be updated weekly or daily, others much less frequently. The authors monitor developments very closely and will adjust or edit as they see fit. They are the best judges of what needs to be updated. The required consultation varies per title.”

Van Luxemburg: “If an author modifies a piece, there is no local copy made but the changes are saved online. The piece in question is locked to prevent more than one author editing it at the same time.”

From title to process

Although everything the authors write ends up in a large collective database, the individual titles are still the focal point. According to Denise Koopmans the added value of Kluwer consists of: “good authors, reliable content, quality and accessibility. This is why it is important that everything is metadated correctly and that all the hyperlinks are in order. This is because linking information to the working processes of our customers in becoming increasingly important. We are delivering more and more process-driven information: a lawyer must for example set up a contract, or a public servant must decide whether or not someone is eligible to make use of a certain arrangement. We offer relevant information every step of the way, for instance through our contract drafting tool Smartdox. In order to provide this kind of service, information must not only be good and up-to-date – but easily applicable.

An online tool for authors that is fully xml based, but has the familiar appearance of Word

These developments will become more important as an ever growing part of the working population is comprised of the internet generation. On this subject, Denise Koopmans says: “Younger generations look less at the title under which information has been published. They look for the information they need and use it. Many don’t learn the importance of reliable sources until they enter working life. With this in mind Kluwer has endeavored to categorize our material into different legal fields by way of several collections encompassing various materials. We are slowly progressing from individual titles to collections encompassing a department, for example anything a lawyer specialized in labour law might need to have at their disposal in order to do their job. The Creator already caters to this but it’s really about how the customer wants their information. We see the younger generations searching for information as they would on Google, so that is what we are preparing for.”

inct-februari-2014This interview was published in InCT 2014, nr. 1
Author: Frank Veerkamp
Translation: Anna Lambregts
Copyright: inct magazine

Interview with Harrie van Luxemburg and Denise Koopmans

HarrieDenise

Denise Koopmans: ‘The added value of Kluwer consists of: good authors, reliable content, quality and accessibility.’

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