Getting Started

About MTS

  • Released by the Regents of University of Michigan in August 2008
  • The first publicly available software for creating and disseminating individually tailored health communications
  • Uses open source licenses
  • Available free of charge for noncommercial education and research purposes
  • Compatible with Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux

MTS makes it possible to create and deliver richly tailored programs. Researchers, health organizations, and health practitioners can write tailored messages, test them in real time, and see the results for a given individual, without the need for constant technical support and assistance from a team of computer programmers.

MTS Overview Screencast

An overview of the MTS Workbench, what's it for and how you can use it for your own tailored output.

User Manual Wiki

Documentation for the MTS Workbench is provided online in a Wiki. Wikis will help us keep user manuals and other documentation up to date.

MTS has two major components:

MTS Flowchart

The MTS Workbench is designed for writers who develop tailored content – content designed specifically for an individual based on data known about that individual. Writers and health educators use the Workbench to create tailoring logic and write and test tailored messages. The MTS Workbench was designed around a workflow that has been used at the CHCR for over ten years. Each component plays an important role in the development and testing process.

Dictionary Icon


Authors define participant characteristics used to tailor the message (e.g., gender) as well as the values for each characteristic (e.g., male/female). Advanced users can create derived characteristics - which are not asked directly of a user, but are calculated using other characteristics. BMI, for example, is derived from height and weight and can be calculated in the Dictionary and used for tailoring.

Message Doc Icon

Message Editor

Authors use characteristics and values from the Dictionary to write tailored messages and corresponding tailoring logic so that the MTS Engine knows which messages to choose for the right people.

Test Case Icon

Testcase Editor

A testcase represents one person’s data and is used to

  • test messages,
  • ensure logic is written properly, and
  • verify that the MTS Engine selects the correct message as expected.

The Testcase Editor is linked with the Dictionary and knows which questions the user is required to answer, what the response options are for questions with values, and which questions allow multiple responses.

Previewer Icon


Preview directs the MTS Engine to use

  • characteristics and values from the Dictionary,
  • logic and messages from the Message Document, and
  • data from a testcase

to select the appropriate tailored messages and media, and displays them in an unformatted view. Preview includes error messages so that writers can find errors or typos in logic.

Publisher Icon


Publisher uses testcases to select tailored messages for one individual and displays the result in a professional, formatted page that can be printed or published on a website. Authors make sure sentences

  • flow properly,
  • are roughly the same length across testcases, and
  • fit the layout.

Publisher is the final stage of testing and writing, and allows authors to see messages in their near final form.

MTS Engine Icon

MTS Engine

runs behind the scenes and uses the logic defined by writers to select tailored text and media (photos, graphics, animations, audio, video) based on data known about an individual (from surveys, datasets, or testcases).

  • characteristics and values from the Dictionary,
  • logic and messages from the Message Document, and
  • data from a testcase

Written in the popular cross-platform programming language Python, and generating messages in HTML for maximum flexibility, the Engine can be used under Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux and in a wide variety of IT environments and deployment scenarios.

The Engine included inside the MTS Workbench is sufficient for testing, exploration, or even for entire small projects. Incoming data can be converted into testcases and run through the Publisher to produce messages suitable for printing, emailing, or for posting on the web.

For large-scale projects, which demand efficient message processing for thousands of study participants, the Engine can exist separately as a web service. In this mode, in addition to increased speed and efficiency, it is compatible with any technology that works on the web – Java, .NET, Ruby on Rails, Django, PHP, and Flash, to name a few.

My First Project

Step yourself through a sample project in MTS by downloading these files seeing how it all comes together.