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Use keyed active content or active content group

  • 1.  Use keyed active content or active content group

    Posted 08-13-2019 11:28
    When you need to handle a lot of active contents and you can identify the used active content by a key, you still have two options to get to the active content:
    - You can create a key map for the active contents, using the identifier as key
    - You can create an active content group using the identifier as a custom property value.
    Using a key map means your active contents cannot have parameters or a return value, which are allowed with an active content group.
    The key map hides the actual active contents from the logic tree, but you can achieve the same when you put the active content group in an active content.
    Some time ago a colleague of mine was desperate because of gigantic start-up times of the publications he was working on. The publications contained a number of key maps with each hundreds of active contents. Opening the publication took over 10 minutes, and each display also took several minutes. Since that time PBS has done some work to improve processing of keyed active content, and that already reduced the display time quite a bit. This was especially the case in the situation that the supplied key did not match any of the keys in the map: that took each time 2 seconds, but the modifications removed this delay almost completely.
    With version 4.4.9 I did some retesting to see if there was still a difference in the processing of the two methods. And yes, there is still a difference. In my test I have 16 active contents in a key map, and created an active content group with the same active contents. I then created a loop to address the active contents using a numeric key. I used the system variable 'Elapsed CPU ticks' to measure the time.
    It appears that in this case using an active content group is about 10 times faster than the keyed active content (about 750 ticks compared to about 8000 ticks).
    The publications my colleague was working on have been modified to use active content groups, and start-up and display times have become quite acceptable (seconds instead of minutes).
    So, apart from the functional benefits, using active content groups instead of keyed active content can improve life for a designer.
    The run-time performances do not differ that much, so the advantage is mainly in the design phase.

    Adrie vlutters
    Document Dialog B.V.

  • 2.  RE: Use keyed active content or active content group

    Posted 08-14-2019 08:37
    Hi Andrie

    Great information on performance. I would also add that if you have regulated content that varies by state or province (US & Canada) and has different effective dates, the active content group option with active content properties is ideal. The properties will vary by need but would typically include effective date and withdrawn date that are mapped to the same data elements. When you have a new revision of a text piece you simply add the next piece of Active Content, set it's effective date and update the previous review adding a withdrawn date of 1 day less than the new element. If these are publishable, getting your change into production involves promoting 2 active content pieces. In US insurance, it is highly likely that you could have hundreds of variations for each form -> translated a form becomes and Active Content group and the derivations are Active Content Pieces. This is the only approach that is sustainable for both maintenance and performance.

    Lisa Sutrick
    Managing Director Customer Engagement Solutions
    Pitney Bowes

    Lisa Sutrick
    Troy NY