Chapter 3: Getting Started

Getting Started

(Last updated March 2021)


After reviewing this chapter you’ll be well on your way to authoring.


Getting started in A2J Author® is easy!  This first section of this chapter, entitled Creating A2J Guided Interviews, provides a bird’s eye view of the entire process of interview creation, from accessing the authoring tool to uploading the completed interview to the server that will host it. A2J Guided Interviews can be hosted on, LawHelp Interactive (LHI), or on your own server.


The process is demonstrated using a flow chart. The second section of this chapter, entitled Navigating A2J Author®, will familiarize you with the startup screen and main menu of the software.


Creating A2J Guided Interviews


Creating A2J Guided Interviews® can be simple – just follow these steps.



Navigating A2J Author®


A roadmap is never complete without signs and landmarks. Thus, this section will walk you through the components of the initial “Interviews” screen and the main menu. A “map” of the navigation buttons in the main menu, which serves as a visual table of contents, is also included.


The “Interviews” Screen and Icons


The Interviews screen (Figure 3a) includes two options in the center of the screen: “Create a new interview” and “Edit one of my interviews”. The Interviews screen also includes a few not-so-obvious features, including, the “HELP” button which links to the A2J Author® Community Website, and the “SETTINGS” button.


The “Create a new interview” and “Edit one of my interview” sections are located in the center of the screen. They provide you the ability to either open a new interview which includes four starter questions, or browse the list to select a previously saved A2J Guided Interview®.


Figure 3a :Features of the Interview Screen

Now that A2J Author is a web-based authoring system, it can more easily be updated with code changes and bug fixes. The version number for A2J Author is located underneath the word "Interviews" in the side navigation panel ( ). The Help button () on the Interviews tab will take you back to this chapter. Finally you can access the authoring settings by clicking on the Settings button (). This will open the settings panel seen in Figure 3b. From this panel you can select whether you want to be warned if your variable names are too long for HotDocs' 50 character limit, whether you want the Full Report to include grade numbers, and whether you want to see the JS (JavaScript) for your logic statements when authoring conditions/advanced logic. 

Figure 3b: Settings panel for A2J Author


Uploading A2J Guided Interviews Created in A2J Author 4.0 for Conversion


A2J Guided Interviews created in A2J Author 4.0 and earlier need to be uploaded into the new A2J Author 6.0 authoring system in order to convert them into A2J Author 6.0 Guided Interviews. This is necessary to take advantage of the new authoring system and to make them useable with the mobile responsive viewer. Eventually all Guided Interviews on the national server, LHI, will have to be updated in order to accommodate the upgraded A2J Viewer 6.0.


The Main Menu


A2J Author® has a “main menu” which exists in most screens of the software. This consists of twelve navigation buttons: “About,” “Variables,” “Steps,” “Pages,” “Map,” “Files,” “All Logic,” “All Text,” “Preview,” “Report,” “Publish,” "," "Templates," and “Interviews” (Figure 3c).  Each of these buttons opens up a “tab” or “screen” in the software.  With the exception of the “Preview” button, each button opens  up  a corresponding “tab” or “screen” in the same frame (e.g., the Interview Button opens the Interview Tab.)  Selecting the “Preview” button, on the other hand, opens up the Preview Mode which features a preview of the A2J Guided Interview as the end-user would view it and preview mode features which facilitate troubleshooting.


Figure 3c: Navigation buttons of the main menu.


Auto Save


A2J Author 6.0 automatically saves your work for you within an A2J Guided Interview. Your work will be automatically saved every five minutes. It also saves when you click the "Save" button () in the “Pages” tab and when you move between tabs.


We have programmed in the ability to recover a limited number of previous versions of your A2J Guided Interview for you. To recover an earlier version of your A2J Guided Interviews, please email