Flare's workspace is flexible, uses a modern Multiple Document Interface (MDI), and gives you several options to work the way that you want.
The user interface consists of the following major sections:
Left—Explorers and Window Panes This is the default location for many different explorers and window panes (e.g., Content Explorer, Project Organizer), which can be used to create, open, and view various elements in the project.
Middle—Editors and Start Page This is the default location for the many editors in Flare (e.g., XML Editor, TOC Editor, Stylesheet Editor), which are used to enter and design the vast majority of the content for your project. It also displays some window panes (e.g., File List, Analysis Summary window) and the Start Page, which is used for quickly performing high-level tasks and accessing information.
Right—Window Panes Like the left side, this is the default location for many different window panes (e.g., Dynamic Help, Styles window pane).
Bottom—Window Panes This is the default location for yet more window panes (e.g., Builds window pane).
For the most part, the
If more than one window pane is open in the same location in the interface, the panes are organized in an accordion or tab structure. This means they are stacked on top of each other, with the active window pane displayed in front of the others. You can click any accordion bar or tab to bring that particular window pane in front so you can work in it.
Following are some of the window panes that you are likely to use most often.
The Content Explorer is holds all of your content-related files—such as topics, images, snippets, and stylesheets. In order to keep your files organized and easier to find, you can create subfolders in the Content Explorer. Non-topic content files, such as images and stylesheets, are stored by default in the Resources folder, although you can place them anywhere else in the Content Explorer if you want. See Content Explorer
You can open the File List window pane by selecting View > File List. See File List Window Pane.
This window pane lets you view all of the content files in your project. You can limit the files that are displayed by using the file type filter (e.g., click the Filter drop-down and select Snippet Files).
You can also perform certain tasks from this window pane, such as opening files, applying condition tags, applying stylesheets, and dragging files to an editor (e.g., XML Editor). And because you can select multiple files from the list, you can perform some of these tasks for all of the selected files at the same time.
You can open the Styles window pane by selecting Home > Style Window. This window pane displays styles, classes, and identifiers (IDs) contained in the stylesheets that are associated with the current content file. See Styles Window Pane, About Styles and Stylesheets, Classes, and Identifiers.
This window pane lets you apply styles to areas of the content file you have open. You can also edit a particular style, create a new one, and pin styles that you use a lot so they stay at the top of the list.
You can use the Preview window pane to see a quick preview for a topic, snippet, or master page.
To access the Preview window pane, you can start by opening a topic, snippet, or master page. Then in the local toolbar of the XML Editor, click . If you click the down arrow, you can choose a target; otherwise, the preview opens according to the settings in the primary target (e.g., with the appropriate conditions already applied). You can also open this window pane by selecting View > Preview Window, or by right-clicking a file in the Content Explorer and selecting Preview. See Preview Window Pane.
The Preview window pane is dynamic, allowing you to keep the preview open while you work and see changes as you make them in the XML Editor. Initially, the window pane opens as a floating window. This can be quite useful if you are working with dual monitors, because you can drag the Preview window pane to one monitor while editing the topic in the other monitor. However, you always have the option of docking the Preview window pane to the interface. See Previewing Topics.
This window pane opens automatically when you generate targets. It shows the progress of each build as it compiles. You can see information such as the status for each build—with background colors indicating what is going on—as well as any warnings or errors that may have occurred. You can also take action in this window pane (e.g., viewing the finished output, opening the build log, and selecting other targets to build, even if they are located in a different project). See Builds Window Pane.
The large middle section of the workspace is typically used to display many different editors, depending on the type of element you are working on. You can have many editors open at the same time—even many different pages of the same editor. For example, you can have five different topics open, each one displayed in a different instance of the XML Editor.
The XML Editor is the primary editor for authoring in Flare.
This is a simple editor that you can use to view and modify the true code, including text, tags, and metadata. There is no requirement to use the Internal Text Editor at all. Those who are new to Flare will usually work in the regular user interface views, but those who are more advanced will probably find the Internal Text Editor to be quite useful. Most of the files in your project can be opened and modified in the Internal Text Editor by right-clicking the file and selecting Open with > Internal Text Editor. The XML Editor includes a tab at the bottom to access the Internal Text Editor. For topic and snippet files, this editor also lets you show or hide line numbers, collapse or expand tagged areas (outlines), show or hide syntax coloring, and wrap text. See Internal Text Editor.
The XML Editor and the Text Editor are closely synchronized with each other. They can be shown in a single window with options for viewing both at the same time and configuring their appearance.
Styles are used to control the look and feel of your documentation, and keep the content separate from its presentation. The styling is based on Cascading stylesheets (CSS), which is an international standard for formatting web content, developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (or W3C).
The Stylesheet Editor
There are two views available in the Stylesheet Editor: Simplified and Advanced. You can toggle between these two views by clicking or in the local toolbar of the editor.
Simplified The Simplified view displays styles in a grid view and is often best for brand new users.
This view provides an easy way to apply properties to styles, with format options available from a toolbar and dialogs (similar to the way one would use an interface such as Microsoft Word). In some cases, only the most common property options are available in the Simplified view (e.g., font, letter/word spacing, paragraph alignment/indentation, autonumbering format, borders, background). One advantage of the Simplified view is that you can apply a property to multiple styles at the same time. You can also click a check box to hide the properties in the editor, allowing you to see only the styles.
Advanced The Advanced view displays styles in a tree structure, and despite the name, is user friendly for authors of all levels.
For the properties, you can toggle between a grouped display and an alphabetical display. The Advanced view of the Stylesheet Editor lets you edit more settings than are available in the Simplified view. In addition, the Advanced view lets you see and apply settings to multiple mediums and media queries at the same time.
The TOC Editor displays when you open a table of contents file from the Project Organizer, and is used to create tables of contents manually. See TOC Editor, About Tables of Contents, and Creating a TOC.
Creating and editing a table of contents file in Flare can be very easy to do for both online and print output. You can drag topics from the Content Explorer to the TOC Editor. You can also manually add TOC books and items, and then link them to other files. The links usually point to topics, but for online outputs they can also point to external files, other Help systems, and movies. You put all of these books and items in a structure that you think would be useful for the individual. In online output, end users browse through a TOC to find information. And in HTML5 Side and Top Navigation output, the TOC items become links in menus.
The TOC files you see in the Project Organizer work differently for online output than they do for print-based output. For online outputs, TOC files are exactly as their name suggests; they are files that create TOCs or menus in the output. But for print-based outputs, that same TOC file functions more like an outline. The element that actually generates a TOC in print-based output is called a “proxy,” which is inserted into a topic. You can manually create that proxy yourself, or you can select an option in the Advanced tab of the Target Editor and let Flare do it all for you. There are pros and cons for both methods.
This editor displays when you open a skin file from the Project Organizer, and is used to develop a skin for one or more online targets in your project. A skin is a file that contains information about the appearance of the output window (such as its size and positioning, which buttons or tabs it should include, and style settings). The Skin Editor consists of several tabs, displaying only settings relevant to the selected skin type—HTML5 (the recommended online output type) or Standard (for other online outputs). You can also perform certain tasks for HTML5 skin components. See Skin Editor and About Skins.
The Page Layout Editor displays when you open a page layout file from the Content Explorer, and lets you edit page layouts, including individual pages and frames within them. See Page Layout Editor , About Page Layouts, and Editing Pages.
A page layout is used for page specifications (e.g., size, margins) and to apply certain content (e.g., headers, footers, page numbers) to many (or all) topics in print-based output. It allows for easy configuration through the use of content frames, bleeds, crop marks, registration marks, margins, padding, alignment features, and more. Page layouts are similar to master pages, but are more flexible and easier to use. The general rule is that page layouts are recommended for print-based output, 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 either Adobe PDF or Microsoft Word), whereas master pages can be used only for Microsoft Word when creating print-based output.
Each open document in the workspace has a tab or accordion that lets you access it. The most recently opened document is in front, while other open documents are behind it. You can bring a document into view by clicking its tab.
You can also work with these document tabs in the following ways.
You can choose how to view window panes in the workspace.
- Accordion tabs Stacks the document tabs below the window pane or editor.
- Standard tabs on top Places the document tabs on the top of the window pane or editor.
- Standard tabs on bottom Places the document tabs on the bottom of the window pane or editor.
To switch between tabs, right-click the title bar of the window pane or editor and select a view.
When you create a Flare project, multiple folders and files are created. Some of these will be generated for every project. Others are optional, depending on what you add to your project. See Folders and Files.
Also, most of these can be seen within your Flare project, but others are visible only when you open the project folder in Windows. Unless you specify a different location when creating a project, your files are located in your Documents\My Projects folder. (Flare creates the My Projects subfolder for you when you install the program.)