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Term of the Week: Dynamic Delivery

What is it?

The assembly of content after receiving a request, so the system can filter or merge different sources, process the results, and return content that is relevant to you at the moment you make the request.

Why is it important?

Given cloud and virtual technology, software systems are increasingly dynamic. The reader is also increasingly dynamic, whether using different devices or filling different roles. Static delivery simply can’t keep pace. Dynamic delivery captures the current states of system and reader and returns content that is specific and meaningful.

Why does a technical communicator need to know this?

Technical writing as a profession is constantly evolving. Each new wave of technology brings new requirements and possibilities into the mainstream. Recent developments in virtual, cloud, and container technologies make the network more fluid than ever. Microservice architecture changes the concept of application, giving us constellations of services that can be different for different people.

Consider the Internet of Things (IoT). No two people will have the same set of things, and a system comprising a unique set of things will exhibit unique behavior. Dynamic delivery can assemble content that is relevant to the current system, in the system’s current state, according to the profile of the person or system making the request.

Static content addresses system variations by hard-coding reuse and filtering criteria. These techniques can support only so much complexity – trying to hard code every possible combination doesn’t scale. Further, if you can’t predict the full set of components at any moment, then you can’t hard code your criteria.

As systems become more complex, we will have no choice but to let machines calculate the different combinations. Technical writers will need to understand how this works, the new capabilities it brings, and how to write topics that play well in a dynamic environment.

About Chris Despopoulos

Photo of Chris Despopoulos

Chris Despopoulos has been documenting software systems and implementing publishing tools for the last 25 years. His coding experience informs his writing, and his writing experience informs the designs of his publishing tools.

Most recently he’s been perfecting 4D Pubs; Distributed Dynamic Document Display that implements content assembly in the client. 4D Pubs is the help delivery system used by Turbonomic, the demand-driven control platform for virtual IT. See the open source project at:

Term: Dynamic Delivery



1 thought on “Term of the Week: Dynamic Delivery

  1. Chris Despopulous

    Hi -- I'm not sure I understand your point. If you are saying that Dynamic Delivery is strictly about print media, then I have to say that is not true.

    Principles of dynamic delivery can be applied to print, so that you generate a print copy at the last minute, per request. In fact, this has been available for a long time. I recall reading about Xerox providing that service to text book publishers in the 1990's (if I am not mistaken). Database Publishing as a term was used to describe getting the latest data onto paper at the time of the request.

    But when you think of dynamic delivery today, you should think of all text media, at the least -- including online. A big difference between online and print is convenience. If the data set changes, or a different reader comes to your publication, online is very easy to update. In that way, it's more dynamic.

    Imagine a hotel with IoT enabled in the rooms, and the first class rooms have more IoT things than tourist class. When you check into the hotel, they hand you a manual to use all these connected things. What if you upgrade from Tourist to First Class? If the manual is printed, then you have to get a different booklet. If the manual is on a phone app, then the phone can know which class of room you are in, and dynamically get the information it needs.

    More importantly for the hotel, if they add new things to the rooms then they need new documentation. For printed manuals they need to get new manuals. If the information is online then it can be assembled and delivered to the readers automatically.

    As far as I know, publication for that kind of situation is not fully understood. There are vendors looking into this, but the best solution is currently not known.

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