The Generic Tutoring Environment (GTE) described by Kris Van Marcke is an exceptional instance of strong automation in courseware engineering. Given the applied nature of instructional design, an appraisal of GTE implies at least an assessment of its theoretical knowledge base and its referent system. In this paper it is argued that GTE's theoretical knowledge base focuses on teaching as a good model for any kind of instruction. This orientation along with its elaboration reduces the generic nature of GTE. From a slightly different perspective, i.e. a deviating knowledge base and referent system, two instances of weak automation are described. They are far less powerful than GTE but perhaps also a little bit broader with respect to their knowledge base. To conclude, three basic issues are mentioned that require intensive research: the separation of content and method; the formal description of learning environments, and the existing gap between research on design and development. Given the current problems with automation it is argued that at this stage efforts to automate instructional design contribute more to theory than to practice.