In most cases, Flare provides you with one or more templates (called "factory templates"), so you do not need to worry about coming up with your own. However, if you want, you can create your own templates and use them when you create new projects or add new elements to a project. Templates can be especially useful when you are working on a team.
Let's say that you want to add a new target to a project. You already know that you want your target to share most of the same settings as other targets that you've created in the past, with a few minor exceptions. So when you add the target, you can base it on a target template that already contains all of the settings that are shared by your many targets. That way, you do not have to specify all of those settings manually in your new target. After the target is inserted into the project, you can adjust the new target as necessary.
Following are the main steps for using templates.
- Create Template Folders The first step in using custom templates is to create a template folder, by selecting a folder that already exists. The template folder is simply the place where you will store your template files. You can have as many template folders as you need in order to hold all of your template files. In addition to selecting a folder on your local drive, you can also select a folder on a network, even on a SharePoint server (if you have previously connected to one
—see Connecting to a SharePoint Server). When you save a file (e.g., topic, page layout) as a new template and select a template folder, the appropriate template subfolder is added to that folder (e.g., topic templates are stored in a subfolder called "Content"; page layout templates are stored in a subfolder called "PageLayouts"). As a result, those files become accessible as templates when you create new features in Flare. Selecting a folder on a network is a great way to share template files with other Flare users. See Creating Template Folders.
Create Templates After creating a template folder, you can add one or more template files to it. See Creating Templates.
What if the file being used as a template has links to other files (e.g., stylesheet, images)? Flare does not remove those links. Therefore, you need to make sure those ancillary files are also imported into the project and placed in the same location(s) relative to the file in question.
- Select Templates Whenever you create new projects or add new elements (e.g., topics, page layouts, targets) to a project, you select the factory or custom template that you want to use.
Let's say you are working with a team of 10 other writers, and you want to create a topic called "Welcome" that each author should use in his or her projects at the root level of the Content Explorer. The template topic will contain some standard text and headings, as well as your company's logo. In addition, the topic links to a stylesheet, which will automatically give the topic the appropriate look and feel. The idea is that each author will create a "Welcome" topic in each of their projects, adding more content to that topic as needed; all "Welcome" topics should be consistent and look the same in all projects.
To accomplish this, you first open a Flare project and create the topic, placing it in the Content Explorer, but not in any subfolders. This is not to say that you cannot put the topic in a subfolder in the Content Explorer; rather, in this example, the topic just happens to be located at the root level. This is important because of the links to the stylesheet and the image in that topic. In the end, all authors will create this same topic in the same location in their projects, ensuring that the links will work.
When you are finished creating the topic, it might look something like this:
Now you need to make sure that you have a template folder ready to hold the new template file. Let's say you are working in the ribbon view, as opposed to tool strip view. Therefore, you select the Tools ribbon. In the Templates section you click Manage Templates. This opens the Template Manager.
In the dialog that opens, you find and select the folder where you want to store the template file.
After closing the Template Manager, you make sure your new topic is still open. Then you select File > Save > Save As Template. In the dialog that opens, you select the new template folder and click OK.
Now let's say that one of the other authors wants to create a "Welcome" topic for a new project she is working on. In her Flare project, she selects Project > New > Topic (in ribbon view). In the dialog that opens, she selects the template file you created, chooses the correct location (in this case, the root folder), and provides a name for the new file. Then she clicks Add and OK.
The new topic is added to the author's project. However, it might not yet look just like the topic you created. Instead, it might look something like this:
In order for her topic to look just like your topic, she needs to add the same image and stylesheet files to her project, placing them in the same locations where you had them. If your stylesheet was in the Resources\Styles subfolder and your image was in the Resources\Images subfolder, that's where the author needs to place them as well. Therefore, the author brings those files into her project, perhaps by simply importing them
Once the author brings those files into her project with the same names, places them in the appropriate locations, and associates the stylesheet with her project or at least with the new topic, her topic will look just like yours, and she can begin adding content to it.
In addition to the main steps for using templates, you can manage templates in the Template Manager dialog. This dialog can be opened from the Tools ribbon or menu, by clicking the Manage Templates button that can be found in a variety of template-related dialogs (such as the Save As Template dialog). The Template Manager lets you do the following.
- Add template files
- Create template folders
- Open templates to edit them
- Delete templates
- Edit template descriptions.
See Managing Templates.
Authors, developers, or other individuals in your company can use MadCap Contributor to create new documents and files, which can be incorporated into your Flare project. These documents can also be exported to PDF and XHTML outputs.
In order to accommodate and assist the contribution process, you can create contribution templates for other individuals to use. These templates are topic files that can be crafted to already have certain pieces in place (e.g., text, formatting, locked regions) and make certain ancillary files available (e.g., variables, condition tags, stylesheets) to the contributor. After using the template to create a new document in Contributor, the contributor can send it to you, and you can then make the document part of your project.
Following are basic tasks that you may perform when using contribution templates.
When exporting a project, you can select an option that saves those files to your templates folder (e.g., Documents\My Templates\Projects). By being placed in this location, the project files become available as a template selection when you create a new project.