Author-it announced today that they have received a patent for their Xtend functionality, functionality which identifies potential reuse at the authoring stage.
One of the greatest challenges to reusing content is knowing that the content exists to reuse it. Even with a content management system, particularly when you have large amounts of content authored by many different authors, it can be difficult to know what content already exists, let alone find it to reuse it. This is particularly true when authoring enterprise content (e.g., cross marketing, sales and support, etc.)
Typically, first the author has to know that the content exists, then they have to search and retrieve it. And of course searching for it means that you have to be able to describe it fairly well in order to find the specific content you are looking for. Many authors figure it is just faster to write it from scratch. When that happens all the benefits of reuse are lost (consistency, accuracy, reduced workload, reduced cost of translation). Xtend helps to overcome this problem.
Author-it has labeled Xtend an authoring memory. Like a translation memory, Xtend indexes all occurrences of content in the Author-it database and identifies identical and fuzzy matches for content. However, unlike a translation memory which shows you matches after you’ve written and approved the content, Xtend does it at the point of authoring. As an author is creating content, Xtend runs in the background to analyze each word and start the content match. After a certain number of words (configurable by the user) it pops up a dialog that shows exact or fuzzy matches for the content. In addition, it identifies where the content has already been reused, if it has been translated, and how close a match it is. The author can review the content fragments and select the one they feel is appropriate or ignore the suggestions.
Xtend is configurable. You can identify how many words you want it to analyze before making a suggestion, words that you would like it to ignore (e.g., the), use colors to indicate degree of match, identify the degree of “fuzzy” relevance, and set the number of suggestions it will provide. The indication of where a piece of content has been reused already and whether it has been translated helps in the decision-making process. For example, a 100% match may not have been reused elsewhere or never translated so it might make more sense to take the 87% match which has been translated into five languages and reused frequently even though it was not your original intention since it will save the company considerable money and increase consistency).
Xtend can be added to any web-based application (e.g., CRM) to enable content matching with Author-it source content to further extend content consistency across the enterprise.
Xtend simplifies automatic and systematic reuse and can protentially increase the percentage of reuse. When Xtend first launched we thought it was a pretty cool feature, and obviously Author-it does too since they have gone to the trouble and expense of patenting it.