You can include an index in your output through the use of index keywords. An Index proxy is also necessary for print-based outputs.
Unlike some features in Flare, there is no independent index file in your project that becomes the index in your output. Instead, the index is automatically generated when you build output, based on index keywords that you insert into content files in your project.
Following are the main steps for creating an index and making it accessible to end users.
- Method 1—Add Keywords to Index and Assign Topics You can use the bottom area of the Index window pane (select View > Index Window) to add index keywords and subkeywords (see Adding Index Keywords) and assign topics to them (see Assigning Topics to Index Keywords). So this method involves two separate steps—first you bring the keywords into existence, and then you assign them to topics. Because unless the keywords are associated with topics, they won't show up in the output. The major benefit of this method is that it is an easy and quick way to place the same index marker at the beginning of multiple topics and maintain better consistency in the index.
- Method 2—Insert Keywords in Individual Topics or Snippets You can open a topic or snippet and use the top area of the Index window pane to insert index keywords and subkeywords into that file (see Inserting Index Keywords). So with this method you are bringing the keywords into existence and associating them with topics or snippets in the same step. The major benefit of this method is that it lets you place index markers at specific places in a topic or snippet, as opposed to the very beginning of the file. While this method allows you the most control, it takes more time than the other methods.
- Method 3—Create Auto-Index You can automatically add words to an index by creating an auto-index. With this method Flare scans your project when you build output to find certain words that you tell it to find. If those words are found, index entries are added to the generated index automatically
(see Creating Auto-Indexes). The major benefit of this method is that it is quick and easy. However, it does not allow you as much control as the other methods. You might select this method to give you a starting place for an index and then use one of the other methods to add to it or tweak it.
- (Optional) Create Index Links In addition to creating regular index entries that point to a specific place in your project, you can also create index links. An index link is an entry in a generated index that points to another entry. There are three kinds of index links—"See," "See Also," and "Sort As." See Creating Index Links.
- Enable Index in Skin (if generating online output) After inserting index keywords, you need to enable the index in the skin you want to use for the target. See Enabling Indexes in Skins.
- Associate Skin with Target (if generating online output) Now that the index is enabled in the skin, you need to associate that skin with the target you are building. See Associating Skins with Targets.
Create Index for Print Output To create an index manually for print output, you need to create a unique topic and insert an Index proxy into it. Alternatively, you can let Flare auto-generate one for you. See Creating an Index Manually for Print and Auto-generating Indexes for Print.
Note: If you are using chapter or volume autonumbers and you want these numbers to be reflected in a print index, you can do so by specifying the autonumbers at the appropriate locations in your outline TOC (instead of inserting Chapter or Volume Number variables in a page layout).
See Including Page Autonumbers in Print Indexes.
- Modify Index You can customize the way the index looks in your output.
For more information see Editing Index Links and Determining the Look of Your Print Index.
Flare's method of producing an index includes the following benefits.
- Prevents Index Keywords from Pointing to Deleted Content Let's say you have inserted an index keyword within a particular paragraph in a topic. Later, you decide to delete the paragraph. Doing this also deletes the index keyword, so when the index is generated, that index keyword is no longer included in it. You do not have to remember to delete the index keyword from another location or file.
- Copies Index Keywords for You Let's say you have inserted an index keyword within a particular paragraph in a topic. You then copy that paragraph and paste it into another topic. When you do this, the index keyword is also copied, which means that you do not have to worry about creating it again for that topic.
An index in Flare works much like an index in a printed book. It provides key terms that point the user or reader to specific locations where the information is stored. The main difference is that, in a printed book, a reader must manually turn pages to get to the desired page listed in the index. In online output, an end user simply clicks an item in the index and the item opens immediately.
When you create print output, you can convert your online index to printed format.
There is no right or wrong answer to this. As you gain experience, you will develop your own work habits that fit you best. Some authors add index keywords as they work on each topic. Other authors wait until they are near the end of the development process and add index keywords all at once. Here are a few benefits of waiting until the later in the process to add index keywords:
- If you add index keywords as you create and work on each topic, it's possible that you will forget to add index keywords if you later make changes to a topic. If you wait until the later in the process to add index keywords all at once, you are less likely to miss sections in topics.
You might find that your wording is more consistent if you wait to add all your index keywords at the same time. Projects can take months to develop, and over time it is easy to stray from using consistent terms.
Early in the development process, you might start using the word "modify" in several index keywords, but later on you might forget and start using the word "change" instead. In the end, some topics would be connected to index keywords using the word "modify," while other topics would be connect to keywords using the word "change."
- For authors who add index keywords all at once, Flare provides two features that can be quite useful ("Index Entry Mode" and "saved layouts").
Keywords and subkeywords are the primary building blocks for an index. They are displayed in topics (as you edit them) as markers; each marker can hold multiple keywords.
Keywords are simply terms at the first level in an index. You might have a term that can be broken down even further. In that case, you might decide to also create subkeywords, which are at the second-level in an index.
When you generate the output the index is automatically created based on these keywords and subkeywords. The keywords and subkeywords are visible to the end user in the generated index, but not in the individual topics.
Note: If you are using "Sort As" index links (see Creating Index Links), they will apply to both keywords and subkeywords.
A search field is automatically added to the top of the Index pane in HTML5 output. When you begin typing in the search field, Flare eliminates all other terms not matching what you type. So you end up with a much shorter group of matching terms. To return to the original full view of the index, just clear the search field. This works for first-level index keywords only.
Let's say you have an index that looks like this:
If you type the word "topic," the view will change to this:
In addition, you can customize or hide this field. This includes the ability to change the following on the Styles tab of the Skin Editor.
- Font settings
- Background color
- Rounded edges
By default, partial-word searching is enabled. This means that as a user types a search phrases, results are automatically displayed and the matching text is highlighted, even if the search text is only part of the index term. However, on the General tab of the Skin Editor, you can disable this feature. You might do this to improve performance. If you do this, results are no longer highlighted as users enter search text. See Enabling and Disabling Partial-Word Search for Indexes.
Finally, multi-level keywords are indicated by icons in the index. You can click a first-level index keyword to expand it and see its subkeywords.
Note: For online outputs, creating an index is typically done via a skin. By default, the MadCap style that controls index proxies is set to support only print-based outputs. However, you can change this. To do so, open your stylesheet, select the MadCap|indexProxy style, and set the mc-output-support property to all (all-print is the default setting). By doing this, you can use the index proxy method to generate an index in some online outputs as well.