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MadCap Flare: How to Update Stylesheets

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In the Madcap world of Flare (yes, I promise never to say that again), you can use stylesheets to give your tech docs a real edge.

For me, styles are one of the hidden secrets in Flare.

So, if you plan to publish your tech docs to PDF, Web, or HTML5, a crash course in CSS styles is maybe what you need.

Interested?

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How to Update Style Sheets

The nice thing about Madcap Flare is that you can control the design and layout with style sheets.

The ‘not so nice’ thing is that the UI takes a bit of getting used to. Once you understand how it works, it’ll be fine.

So, how do you start playing around with style sheets and jazzing up your online help?

You can change the colour, fonts, and layout of your online help (and printed documents), use the Stylesheet Editor.

To find this puppy:

  1. Go to Content Explorer, Resources, Stylesheets.
  2. Right-click or double-click on the style sheet to open the Stylesheet Editor.
  3. The Stylesheet Editor has two views:

Simplified

Advanced

  1. NB: If the list of styles is overwhelming, click Hide. This tidies things up and makes it easier to use.

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Filtering the list of Styles

  1. By default, Show all Styles is displayed.
  2. If you click on the drop-down menu, you can select the Table, Images, or Headings This helps if you just want to work on a specific style family.

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Filtering the Medium

  1. Medium means the output type, such as HTML5, PDF or Print.
  2. Click on the Medium drop-down menu, and select the output type you want to modify.
  3. Pay attention to this as you don’t want to change the wrong CSS settings.

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Filtering Properties

  1. Click this drop-down menu to view the properties alphabetically, by property groups, or other settings.
  2. Advanced v Simplified View
  3. Click View Advanced to switch back to the View Simplified.

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That’s it for this week.

Let me know if you run into any problems with your stylesheets. Sometimes one small setting can throw everything out of kilter.

Are we friends on Facebook? If not, jump over here.

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MadCap Flare: Conditional Text 101

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Conditional text is one of those writing tactics technical writers love to talk about… but never seem to use.

It’s a shame as conditional tagging can save you a lot of time, especially if you have technical documents which share 90% of the content but the other 10% needs to be tweaked for each release.

This is where conditional tagging comes in.

Applying Condition Tags to Online Content

Before we get into it, we should explain a little bit about conditional tags.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you have a core product set, but you modify the product name for different clients. Instead of find/replace by hand, you can apply conditional tags that tell Flare:

  • If content contains product name 1, apply tag 1
  • If content contains product name 2, apply tag 2
  • If content contains product name 3, apply tag 3

Why use Conditional tags?

Madcap Flare definition: A condition tag is a marker that you can apply to different areas of your content so that some sections show up in some of your outputs but not in others. It is just one of the many single-sourcing features that you can use in Madcap Flare.

After you create condition tags, you can apply them to the appropriate content in your project.

For example, you can apply condition tags to:

  • Topics
  • Images
  • Stylesheets
  • Skins
  • Files
  • Paragraphs
  • Text within paragraphs
  • Table rows and columns
  • Table of contents (TOC) entries
  • Index keyword markers.

Applying Condition Tags to Online Content

How to apply condition tags to text:

First:

  1. In the Primary Target, click Conditional Text.
  2. For each tag, click the Include or Exclude check boxes.

Then:

  1. Open the content.
  2. Select the text to which you want to apply the condition tag.
  3. Select the Home ribbon, Attributes section, Conditions.

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If you want to apply a condition tag to selected text in a paragraph:

  • In the XML Editor, select the text.
  • In the Project Organizer, open the Conditional Text folder and expand the condition tag set.
  • Drag the condition tag to the selected text in the XML Editor.
  1. For each condition tag you want to apply, click the check box next to the tag.
  2. Click OK, then Save.

Checking Conditional Text Settings in the Primary Editor

You can tell Madcap Flare to include or exclude content as follows:

  1. Open the Primary Target.
  2. Click Conditional Text.
  3. For each tag, click the Include or Exclude check boxes.

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This tells Madcap to apply these settings to the conditional text.

Still doesn’t work?

Check that you have the Show / Hide Conditional Indicator button turned on.

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This is on the lower right of the XML Editor. When you turn this on, the conditional tags color code should be displayed.

Now, rebuild the content – does it work?

Hop over to our Facebook Tech Writers page and let us know.

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Madcap Flare: Snippets 101

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Snippets? Sounds familiar but what are they?

In the Madcap world of Flare, snippets are content ‘fragments’ you can re-use in different parts of your Madcap Flare projects.

Use snippets to insert:

  • Text
  • Tables
  • Images
  • Video

Why Use Snippets

If you find yourself typing the same text over and over, create a snippet instead.

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Create the content once instead of re-typing and reformatting it for each topic.

If you want to modify a snippet, change its contents and the text is automatically updated everywhere that the snippet is added.

Snippets are contained in .flsnp files (flare snippets).

You can share them with other authors or use them in other projects.

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Default Save location

Snippet are saved in the Content Explorer in the Resources\Snippets folder by default.

However, you can store it anywhere in the Content Explorer that you like.

Creating New Snippets

There are two ways to create a snippet.

  • Create Snippets From Existing Content — If you have already created content and want to use it as a snippet, use the Home ribbon or Format menu. Insert the snippet into other topics where you want it to appear.
  • Add Snippets — Add a new snippet and insert it into the topics.

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To create new snippets from existing content:

  1. Open the topic.
  2. In the XML Editor highlight the content that you want to turn into a snippet.
  3. In the Home ribbon, select Create Snippet.
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  4. In the Snippet File field, type a new name for the snippet. After the snippet is created, you can see it in the Content Explorer.
  5. If you want the snippet to replace the highlighted text in the topic, select the Replace Source Content with the New Snippet check box.
  6. Click Create. The snippet is surrounded by brackets (if markers are turned on).
  7. Save.

Inserting Snippets

After you’ve created a snippet, you can insert it into a topic.

You can do this by using the ribbon or drag an existing snippet from the Content Explorer or File List window pane.

How to insert a snippet

  1. Open your file.
  2. Place your cursor where you want to insert the snippet.
  3. In the Insert ribbon, select Snippet. The Insert Snippet Link dialog box opens.
  4. Navigate to the snippet that you want to insert and select it.
  5. Click OK. The snippet is inserted and is surrounded by brackets (if markers are turned on).
  6. Save your work.

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Editing Snippets

When you edit a snippet, the changes are automatically updated in every topic where you inserted the snippet.

How to edit a snippet

  1. To open the snippet:
  • Right-click on the snippet in a topic where it is inserted and select Open Link OR
  • Locate the snippet in the Resources\Snippets folder in the Content Explorer and double-click it.madcap-flare-snippet-5
  1. In the XML Editor update the snippet.
  2. Click Save.

Did that help?

Did it give you any new ideas on how to create your web help or tech docs? Fess up, stranger.

Oh yeah, we’re over here on Facebook.