This is one of the 52 terms in The Language of Technical Communication published by XML Press in 2016 and the contributor for this term is Chris Despopoulos.
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.