Posted on

Madcap Flare: Snippets 101

madcap-flare-snippets-how-to-use

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.

madcap-flare-snippet-6

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.

madcap-flare-snippet-3

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.

madcap-flare-snippet-4

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.
    madcap-flare-snippet-7
  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.

madcap-flare-snippet-1

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.

Posted on

Madcap Flare: Logo Size and Settings for WebHelp

madcap-flare-logo-webhelp

Want to replace the default MadCap Flare logo for your online help?

Before you do, a few things to consider:

  • For IE 6 or older uses — save the logo as GIF with a transparent background. If you use PNG, the transparent portion of your image appears as black.
  • For IE 7 or newer — save the logo as PNG with a transparent background.
  • HTML 5 skin — create the logo 60 pixels high. The width depends how far you want it to stretch across the header.

One suggestion is to create the logo 55 pixels and leave a 5 pixel border to set it off from the other UI elements.

  • HTML 5 DARK skin — use white (or another light color) for the text to contrast with the dark background.
  • HTML 5 LIGHT skin — use… go on, have guess what color? J

Save the image somewhere you’ll remember, for example to your Content/Images folder.

Posted on

Web Help: 5 Index Guidelines

web-help-index-guidelines

Do you provide an index for your online documents?

I’m not sure if today’s customers actually want an index. Maybe they prefer to search.

Of course, not everyone agrees with me.

Lori Lathrop, author of An Indexer’s Guide to the Internet, helps firms index their technical publications for software, manufacturing, and science.

She highlights four points when indexing documentation:

  1. Document Type — product documentation, user guide, operations manual, etc.
  2. Terminology — industry-specific, product-specific, and author-specific.
  3. Audience characteristics — background, education, current skills, familiarity with your product or competitive products.
  4. Audience objectives — needed skills, tasks to be performed.

A nice set of guidelines to get us started.

But what about if you’re moving your documents online.

Do you still need to index the content?

Does a good Search function replace the need for an index?

Indexing Online Help

The team at Adobe RoboHelp provides the following guidelines when creating an index for online help:

#1 Prioritize user needs first

  • Focuses on their tasks and way of thinking.
  • Consider their backgrounds and knowledge.
  • Use words and phrases they’re likely to think of when looking for information.
  • Users can and do form impressions about the usefulness and value of a Help file based on their experience with the index – and in this case, perception is reality.

If they can’t locate information in the index, users may doubt whether or not the information exists in the Help file. If users are consistently taken to the wrong topics or to unexpected topics, they may doubt the accuracy of the Help file.

#2 Index the most important words

  • Include only those words and phrases your users are most likely to look up.
  • You don’t have to index every word or phrase – like “About” or “Working with.”
  • For ideas on good index entries, look at the features and content of your Help system – topic titles, headings, tables, examples, and so on.
  • Include terms commonly used by both beginners and experts.

#3 Provide multiple ways to access the same information

  • As user may not be familiar with the terms and concepts used in your Help system, provide synonyms and alternate index entries.
  • Include verbs, noun phrases, and synonyms to reach the widest range of users.
  • Index your competitors’ terms, too – users may not know the name of the feature in your Help system, but they might know what it’s called in your competitors system.

#4 Use consistent access routes

  • Use consistent phrasing throughout the index.
  • Include inverted terms and headings – what the command is as well as what the command does.

This approach helps users find information regardless of whether they’re looking for the command or the action the command accomplishes. (For example, Printing:Landscape, Landscape:Printing.)

#5 Provide enough detail for users to choose

  • Provide enough description with your index entries so users can determine which path to choose.
  • Users should be able to tell the difference between index entries that lead them to conceptual overviews and entries that lead them to tasks.

I’m still in two minds about creating an index. What do you think?

Is providing an index a thing of the past?

Do users prefer a search engine to an index instead?

Posted on

Madcap Flare: how to improve Search Engine Optimization

madcap-flare-search-engine-settings

Using Madcap Flare to create your WebHelp? Did you know you can add SEO information to the page headers? This improves their results in search engines queries and helps customers find information faster.

Want to know how? Follow these steps, grasshopper.

Madcap Flare: how to improve Search Engine Optimization

  1. In Project Organizer, click Targets, then open your target, for example, HTML5.
  2. In the Tag Editor, click Advanced.
  3. Click the Generate Site map check box. Enter the path to your site map.
  4. Click the Include importance check box. Select the number of results per page to appear and the abstract character limit.

Publish and check that the site map is included in the HTML output.

Madcap Flare: how to add meta tags to HTML5 and Web Help

madcap-flare-search-engine-1

You can add meta tags to your web files:

  1. In Project Organizer, click Targets, then open your target, for example, HTML5.
  2. In the Tag Editor, click Advanced.
  3. Click the Add meta tags to content check box.
  4. Enter the meta tags in the text box.

Publish and check that the meta tags are included in the output.

Madcap Flare: how to change the default logo

You can change the default MadCap logo that appears on the top left of HTML5 outputs.

You can remove the logo or replace it with your own logo:

  1. In Project Organizer, click Skins, then open your skin, for example, HTML5.
  2. Click Styles (second from end).
  3. In Global, click Main Page, Background, Image.
  4. Browse to your image and insert it.
  5. Click Preview to test how it looks.

If necessary, change the image size.

A second approach is as follows:

  1. In Project Organizer, click Skins, then open your skin, for example, HTML5.
  2. Click Styles.
  3. In Header, click Logo, Image.
  4. Browse to your image and insert it.
  5. Click Preview to test how it looks.

If necessary, change the image size.

Note: You can also add a Site Map as shown below.

madcap-flare-search-engine-2

Madcap Flare: how to enter the Title tag

The title tag is one of the most important

  1. In Content Explorer, right-click on your file, then click Properties.
  2. In Topic Properties, click Topic Title.
  3. Enter the title tag.

Publish and check that the title tags is included in the HTML output.

madcap-flare-topic-properties-1

 

Posted on

Madcap Flare: How to Create Variables

madcap-flare-create-variables

Are you using variables in your technical documents?

If not, you might be missing out. They save a lot of time and help keep the documents accurate, for example, if you need to change a product name across the entire doc set. If those puppies were hard-coded, you’re in trouble.

We use Madcap Flare. The procedure is more or less the same in FrameMaker or Robohelp.

Creating variables in Madcap Flare

To create a variable:

  1. Open the Project Organizer.
  2. Click Variables. As it’s V it’s at the end of the list.
  3. Double click on General to open the Variable Set Editor.

madcap-flare-variables-1

Here you can add, edit, and delete variables.

Adding variable definitions in Madcap Flare

  1. Click Add Variable Definition.
  2. In the Edit Format window, enter the specifiers.
  3. In Update, select when it will be updated, for example, on file creation, save, or build.

madcap-flare-variables-2

 That work for you?

Posted on

How to Remove the MadCap Logo in WebHelp Output

madcap-flare-remove-logo

When creating WebHelp with Madcap Flare, you can add your own logo instead of the default Madcap logo.

Here’s how to do it.

To remove the MadCap logo and replace it with your own logo:

  • Open the skin want to remove the logo from.
  • Click the Styles
  • On the Tool Item category, click Logo.

madcap-flare-logo

  • Click the General category in Logo.
  • To remove the logo, click on the image path and select None.
  • To add your logo, click on the image path and select your image.

If you’ve any questions about this. contact us on our Facebook Technical Writing page.

Posted on

How to Find Broken Links in Madcap Flare

madcap-flare-broken-links

Tired of all those pesky broken links in your WebHelp projects? Wish they’d go away? Well now you can!

If you use MadCap Flare to create your web help, you can run a broken link checker.

It’s not perfect. But it will catch most dead links, which is a start.

Finding broken links in Madcap Flare

To find broken links:

  1. Click the Project Analysis
  2. Select Broken Links from the drop-down list.

madcap-flare-broken-links

The results are displayed in the Broken Links window.

 

Posted on

Madcap Flare: How to add The Mark of The Web

madcap-flare-mark-of-the-web

Using Madcap Flare for WebHelp?

If you have problems getting Internet Explorer to run web help pages, added ‘Mark of the Web’ to your WebHelp files.

Madcap Flare: How to add Mark of the Web

You can add the Mark of the Web to HTML files so they run locally in Internet Explorer.

  1. In Project Organizer, click Targets, then open your target, for example, HTML5.
  2. In the Tag Editor, click Advanced.
  3. Select the Insert Mark of the Web check box.

PS – Join our Technical Writer’s page on Facebook.