Adding Content and Features
As soon as you start a project, you can do any number of things with it. Technically, you could build the final output immediately. However, if it is a new project, building the output right away would not do your end users much good, since the output does not yet have any real substance. The project needs topics, content, cross-references, navigation, and all of the other elements necessary to help your end users.
Following is a list of content and features that you can create and insert into your Flare project.
- Topics Read more… A topic is a file containing information about a particular subject. Topics might be the most important part of a Flare project. Everything else is contained within topics (e.g., cross-references, text, images) or points toward topics (e.g., tables of contents, indexes, browse sequences). The very reason end users open a Help system or manual is to find information, a little direction. They find that help within individual topics. See About Topics.
- Browse Sequences Read more… A browse sequence is like an alternative table of contents (TOC) for online output. For example, if you have several topics that you think end users should read in order, you can create a browse sequence. Another way to use a browse sequence is to create an alphabetical list of all of the topics. So readers can use your regular TOC for a structured method of navigation (with folders and subfolders), or they can use the browse sequence for a more flattened, alphabetical way to find topics.
See About Browse Sequences.
- Conditions Read more… A condition is a single-sourcing feature that you can apply to files or to different areas of your content, so that some information displays in some outputs but not in others.
See About Conditions.
- Glossaries Read more… A glossary is a feature that you can add to your output to help users understand the meaning of individual terms.
You can include a glossary in both online and print-based output. See About Glossaries.
- Images and Multimedia
- Images Read more… You can insert images into
content files (e.g., topics, snippets). Flare supports the following types of raster and vector image files: BMP, EMF, EPS, EXPS, GIF, HDP, JPG, JPEG, PDF, PNG, PS, SVG, SWF, TIF, TIFF, WDP, WMF, XAML, XPS. See About Images.
- Movies Read more… You can embed Flash, Windows Media, Quicktime
, and HTML5files, as well as videos from your YouTube or Vimeo account. In addition, you can insert links to movies created in MadCap Mimic. See Movies.
- Audio Read more… You can insert and edit audio files in Flare.
- 3D Models Read more… If you want to enhance your output using 3D, Flare supports Universal 3D (U3D) files. These files allow you to show users an interactive 3D model in print or web output.
See 3D Models.
- Images Read more… You can insert images into
- Indexes Read more… You can include an index in your output through the use of index keywords. An Index proxy is also necessary for print-based outputs.
See About Indexes.
- Links Read more… A link is a feature that points to additional information from a specific area in a topic. The link may open information in the same topic, a different topic, or even a file outside of the project altogether. With print-based output the link can electronically open the destination if the user is viewing the manual online, depending on the type of output you create (e.g., PDF, Word). In addition, cross-reference links can be customized to refer to specific content and page numbers in the printed manual (e.g., See "My Topic" on page 32). See About Links.
- Micro Content Read more… Micro content is short, concise information that stands alone and is easily consumable. In Flare, it begins with the creation of a collection of brief phrases and corresponding responses, such as questions and answers. After generating HTML5 output, these phrase/response combinations can be used in different ways as users interact with your output. Among other benefits, it can greatly improve the user experience when people search in your HTML5 output. See About Micro Content.
- Proxies Read more… 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
, as well as to master pages. The difference is that a proxy added to a topic will display that information in the output only once (wherever the topic occurs), but if a proxy is added to a master page, the content will show up everywhere that the master page has been applied.Proxies are quite often used for print-based outputs, especially to create navigation-like elements, such as TOCs, indexes, and glossaries. However, proxies can be used in online output as well. They can be especially useful if you are creating HTML5 Top Navigation output, where the traditional Tripane format is replaced by a more modern design that relies heavily on proxies. See About Proxies.
- Responsive Content Read more… For HTML5 output, you can use the Responsive Layout window pane to help you design responsive content. This window pane lets you create a one-row grid to hold content. The benefit of putting your content into such a grid is that it allows it to shift and be responsive to screens of different sizes. The Get Started topic in Flare's Help system is one example where such a responsive layout is used.
See Responsive Content.
- Search Read more… You can use the search feature in your online outputs. When users want to find information about a specific subject, they enter key words in the Search field. A search engine looks through every topic in your project to find the term(s) entered by the user. When it finds the terms, it presents the user with a list of topics to open. The way that search works differs depending on the output type. There are also special features that you can use to enhance search, such as micro content featured snippets, synonyms, partial-word search, filters, reports, and excluding topics from search.
See About Search.
- Snippets Read more… A snippet is a chunk of formatted content that is heavily used in single-sourcing. Snippets can include text, tables, images, and whatever else can be included in a normal topic. You can insert snippets into one or more topics throughout your project, thus allowing you to reuse content that is maintained in one place. You can even insert them into other snippets, creating nested snippets. Snippets are not usually intended for single words or very short phrases. In those cases, you probably want to use variables instead.
See About Snippets.
- Tables Read more… A table in Flare is much like it is in any word processing program, such as Microsoft Word
, or in a printed textbook. It is a group of intersecting columns and rows that you can add to a topic for various purposes, such as comparing different elements. See About Tables.
- Tables of Contents Read more… A table of contents (TOC) is a common way for end users to find specific information in online and print output. 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.
See About Tables of Contents.
- Variables Read more… A variable is a brief, non-formatted piece of content that can be edited in one place but used in many places throughout your project. They're especially good for text that might change frequently, such as version numbers and dates. Variables are stored in variable sets, which can hold multiple variables.
Depending on the template you select when creating a project, Flare may provide you with an initial variable set, but you can add as many additional variable sets and variables as you like.There are different kinds of variables: (1) basic ones that you create, (2) custom date/time variables that you create, (3) system variables (e.g., date and time; titles; page count; Chapter, Section, and Volume numbers), (4) Heading variables, and (5) Running Head variables. Some of these are especially useful for page headers and footers in print-based output. See About Variables.
- Editor Tools Read more… Flare provides many tools to assist you when you are working in its editors, including macros, customizable shortcuts, and structure bars. See Editor Tools.
- Additional Features Read more… There are many other features that you can incorporate into your projects, such as accessibility, context-sensitive Help, equations, scripts, and more. See Additional Features.
After you add content and features to your project, you can then move on to the other basic steps:
Note: You do not necessarily need to follow all of the above steps (and their substeps) in the exact order given. For example, as you add topics to a project, you may want to start applying styles and formatting to them right away, before adding other features to the project, such as a glossary. However, the above sequence probably makes the most overall logical sense. For example, you must start a project before adding content and features (i.e., topics, content, cross-references, etc.) to it.