New Author Resources

(Last update June 2020)

New Author Resources

If you are new to the authoring process, you may not know where to start. Here are a list of resources we have created for you to learn how to use A2J Author. We've also included a suggested "How to Get Started" list with suggestions on how to create your A2J Guided Interview project.  

WARNING: Do not use ampersands (&) in your A2J Guided Interviews. It causes the Guided Interview file to become corrupted and you won't be able to open the file from your Interviews Tab. 

 

Videos to Watch

4 Videos to Learn A2J Author

This playlist of 4 videos was created in the fall of 2019 for new authors learning how to use A2J Author. The videos are meant to be watched as a whole series, but can be broken up individually as well. 

Video 1: How Document Assembly Works: A2J Author and HotDocs

Video 2: Overview of A2J Author and Basic Question Design

Video 3: Macros, Functions, Repeat Loops, and Advanced Conditions

Video 4: A2J Author Document Assembly Tool (A2J DAT)

 

Plain Language

This video gives new authors an understanding of how to draft questions in their A2J Guided Interviews. The goal of drafting questions for self-represented litigants is to shoot for a 5th grade reading level. The video explains the reasons behind this grade level goal and how to accomplish it. 

 

Simple and Conditional Branching in A2J Author

This video covers the two ways to move your end users through an A2J Guided Interview. Simple branching moves your end user via button clicks. Conditional branching relies on drafted logic statements to evaluate an end user's response 

 

There are more training videos available on our YouTube Channel, youtube.com/a2jauthor.

 

Exercises to Learn and Practice Your Skills

https://www.a2jauthor.org/content/sample-exercises-learn-a2j-author

There are over a dozen sample exercises at the above link. They range in complexity from simple 30 minute exercises to several hour long ones that teach you how to complete a real life A2J Guided Interview. 

 

Authoring Guide (Software Manual) to Answer Your Questions

A2J Author 6.0 Online Authoring Guide

Sample Exercise for A2J Author and HotDocs (Step-by-Step Instructions)

 

Additional Resources

Monthly New User Webinar - the 1st Thursday of every month at 11 am - generally about a specific area of the authoring tool and we take questions at the end. Register here

List of U.S. states - already alphabetically ordered for you to use in a drop down list within the Fields section of the Question Design Window. 

Document Assembly Programs Best Practices Guide for Court System Development and Implementation Using A2J Author, developed by the New York State Courts Access to Justice Program in 2013. 

 

How to Get Started With a Project: How To Guides

  1. Think about the scope of your project. 
  2. Pick the documents that you would like to automate. 
  3. Create a storyboard or flowchart of the questions you will need to ask the end user to help them fill out the document you are automating. 
  4. Create a list of variables that you will need to use in your A2J Guided Interview and A2J Template or HotDocs template. Think about all the pieces of information you are going to need to collect from the end user. 
  5. Learn how to use the authoring tools. See the list of New User resources above for learning A2J Author. We also host monthly New User Webinars where you can learn about a specfic topic and ask us questions. They are the first Thursday of every month (register here) at 11 am CDT.
  6. Automate your HotDocs template.
  7. Create your A2J Guided Interview. To access A2J Author, click the Author Tab at the top of this website. 
  8. Test, test, test! Get a fresh set of eyes to go over your work and pretend they are an end user seeing it for the first time. 
  9. Upload the A2J Guided Interview and HotDocs template to the national server (LawHelp Interactive) or host the A2J Guided Interview on your own server. 

 

 

If you have questions about the authoring process, feel free to reach out to A2J Author's Project Manager, Jessica Frank at jessica@cali.org