Madcap Flare is one of the most powerful online help authoring tools on the market today. In this podcast, Paul Pehrson, MVP in the Madcap Software forums, talks about Madcap Flare in depth.
Having introduced the concept of high definition PDF's output straight from Flare's source files with minimal post-production, we can now start to dig into the technologies that are used to produce it.
When you are writing content in Flare, you may decide that you want to re-use some content that you previously added to another topic. We’ve discussed before how the best way to do this is to use a snippet, which essentially is a really long, formatted variable. To do this in Flare, you create a new snippet, then you locate the text you want to re-use, and copy the text out of that topic and paste it into the snippet. Then you replace the text in the original topic with the snippet, then insert the snippet into the new location.
I wish Flare gave me an option before creating the printed documentation: embedded or linked images. I went through a lot of rigmarole before finally figuring out how to get the images embedded so I could share the document.
One of Flare’s shortcomings is the inability to easily embed video files. However, if you use the Camtasia Studio’s Express Show format as your video format (and you choose the SWF option), you can insert the video into Flare by inserting the video as if it were a picture. Here’s a two-minute screencast showing the processing for inserting a video into Flare. You can also put the video in a drop-down hotspot.
Overall, I think Flare’s mobile webhelp is a good first attempt at a mobile format, but it needs some refinement and potential readjustment. Despite my reservations about the complexity of responsive design, I would like to see the HTML5 help look better on mobile devices by default. Regardless of the shortcomings I pointed out in Flare’s Mobile Webhelp format, this format has given me a powerful tool for me to add value to mobile projects. I can better pitch our group’s services to mobile teams and show them an output that their app needs. So far it has worked well.
Flare current provides the majority of HTMLHelp settings, and does this in a much more flexible way that HTMLHelp workshop does. Particularly useful are the WYSIWYG help window size and potitioning. However, there are some advanced HTMLHelp settings (such as advanced help, or remembering the users last help settings) that are not currently available.
If you're moving to Flare from another help authoring tool, you'll find that Flare's stylesheet editor is very powerful but different than other stylesheet editors that you may have used. And if Flare is your first help authoring tool, you may find the stylesheet editor overpowering at first. To help you get over that initial hump, Hyper/Word Services offers a stylesheet for Flare that will help you learn to use the stylesheet editor, and that may apply to actual projects.
This article is a review of presentations that Mike Hamilton gave at the Berkeley and East Bay STC chapters in December 2006. Hamilton also gave a presentation about MadCap Flare at the San Francisco chapter in August 2006.
I like Flare for much of the same reasons as Alistair. I haven’t integrated jQuery scripts into Flare yet. But knowing that I can do it if I wanted to is encouraging.
In this podcast, Mike Hamilton of Madcap Software talks about their phased approach to handling DITA with Flare. In Phase I, you’ll have the ability to import DITA topics and export to webhelp and other targets. In this sense, Flare functions as a transform engine. In Phase 2, you can use Flare for native DITA authoring. Phase 1 is on the cusp of release, but Phase II won’t be available until quarter one of next year.
Mike Hamilton from Madcap Software visited the Suncoast chapter in Tampa, Florida, and presented on Flare. In this presentation, he talks about the story behind RoboHelp and Macromedia/Adobe (this blew my mind). He also provides a lot of inside detail on Flare.
After several months away from Madcap Flare, coming back to work on it again, I’m reminded that one of the reasons I like this technical authoring tool is that it uses standard XHTML. So, if you’re using Flare to produce online help, you can modify your pages just like you could any Web page. So, for example, because I don’t like Flare’s default (text-only) glossary popups, I’ve replaced those with my own variety that allow text formatting and images, and can be dragged around the screen.
Soon MadCap Software will be releasing the next major version in the Flare product line, Flare V5. I’ve been beta testing Flare 5 for a couple of months now, and there are some great new features in Flare 5 that you are going to love. In this review, I want to point out some of my favorite new features, as well as some of Flare 5’s other great enhancements.
I've noticed the following bugs in Flare 2.0. Before reading through these, please note that this page is not intended to give an impression of Flare (it would give a very bad impression). It's just a list of problems and irritations with a fairly new piece of software. All new software has problems and irritations, many of which quickly get fixed. Despite the negative nature of this list my overwhelming view of Flare is positive.
I’ve noticed a trend in search results lately. Users are searching for my help products and landing on our technology blog that has articles about the topic rather than landing on the help material for the product. It would be much better if the user found the help material in the search results and looked for the answer there. As a result, I need to increase the search engine optimization of my help material on Google.
In this session, attendees will learn how to use MadCap Flare to develop multiple documents and/or online help systems from a single project and how to share content across multiple projects. Learn how to create multiple online help systems and/or print documents from the same content. Learn how to reuse content developed in multiple applications. Learn how to reuse content in multiple topics and across multiple projects.
Some might not think that converting FrameMaker content into online help and user documentation would involve taking risks. In this article, we tell our story of what risks were involved with one of my recent projects, how we overcame them, and what benefits we reaped by using state-of-the-art technology.
The team at MadCap Software has been working on the next version of Flare for several months now, and I’ve been lucky enough to be one of the beta testers who has had an early sneak-peak at what Flare 4 has to offer. Finally, after months of testing, I’m ready to share some of the latest and greatest features that will shortly be available in Flare 4.
I recently switched from RoboHelp 7 to Flare 5. I’m not the person to ask about the merits of one over the other because I don’t have enough experience with Flare yet. Because I’m coming to version 5 with my knowledge being only that which my colleagues have told or shown me, I hope to make life easier for anyone moving from RH to Flare or at least trying Flare out.