A master page is an element that you can create in your project in order to apply certain content to multiple topics. A master page is primarily used in online outputs, but it can be used in Word and FrameMaker outputs as well. Depending on the output type, you might use a master page in online output to apply features such as breadcrumbs, menus, toolbars, search bars, mini-TOCs, or footer text to multiple topics, or even all topics in a target. For Word and FrameMaker output, a master page allows you to determine page specifications (such as size or orientation) and to apply certain content (such as header text or page numbers) to many topics in a manual. For print-based outputs other than Word and FrameMaker, page layouts are used instead of master pages.
Page layouts are similar to master pages, but are more flexible and easier to use. The general rule of thumb is that page layouts are recommended for print-based output (when possible), and master pages continue to be the best method for automatically adding headers, footers, and breadcrumbs in multiple topics for online output. Another difference between page layouts and master pages is that page layouts can be used for any of the print-based outputs (Adobe FrameMaker, Adobe PDF, Microsoft Word, XHTML Book), whereas master pages can be used only for Microsoft Word and FrameMaker when creating print-based output. See About Page Layouts.
Like all other files in Flare, a master page is an XML file. It has an .flmsp extension. The traditional location to store it in the Content Explorer is in the Resources\MasterPages folder. However, you can store it anywhere in the Content Explorer that you like.
Let's say you want every topic in your Help system to include a footer with contact information about your company. Rather than having to type this content or insert a snippet in every topic, you can create a master page and enter the footer in just that one location. Then you associate the master page with any of the targets in your project. The footer is automatically included at the bottom of every topic when you build and view any of those associated targets.
- Create Master Page This process might involve any of the following: adding the master page to the project, adding proxies to the master page, removing proxies from a master page, and adding header and footer content around a Body proxy. See Creating Master Pages.
- Associate Master Page with the Appropriate Content To make sure the master page is being displayed for the right content, you can do any of the following:
- Associate Master Page with Target If you want the same master page to be applied to all topics in the output, you can associate that master page with the target that you are building. This is useful, for example, if you want to create elements such as breadcrumbs, search bars, menus, mini-TOCs, header content, or footer content for your online outputs. See Associating Master Pages with Targets.
- Associate Master Page with Topics You can associate a master page with individual topics, which is useful if you want some topics to use one master page and other topics to use a different master page. See Associating Master Pages with Topics.
- Associate Master Page with TOC Entry If you are creating Microsoft Word or Adobe FrameMaker targets, you can apply master pages to the different sections of the print-based output. For example, you might want to display different header content for your front matter, the various chapters in the manual, your index, and so on. To accomplish this, you can apply the appropriate master page to the outline TOC entry where a new section will start in the output. This is the most common approach when using master pages in print-based output. See Creating Print-based Output and Specifying Section Breaks and Master Pages.
You can add a proxy to a master page to let Flare know you want to include a certain type of content in the master page. A proxy acts as a placeholder for auto-generated content or content that you have created elsewhere. When you build output, the content takes the place of that proxy. Proxies can be added to regular topics
Note: You might have used master pages in earlier versions of Flare when creating Word or FrameMaker output, but then decide to use the newer page layouts instead. You can manually remove all links to master pages in your target and table of contents. However, another alternative is to automatically disable the use of master pages in your project. By using this feature, Flare will ignore all links to master pages when you generate the Word or FrameMaker target. It will instead use links that you provide to any page layouts. See Disabling the Use of Master Pages.