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 elements and objects that you can create and insert into your Flare project.
- 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.
- 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.
- Master Pages Read more… 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 output 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 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, page layouts are used instead of master pages. See About Master Pages.
- Micro Content Read more… Micro content is what it sounds like—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.
- Multimedia Read more… Flare allows you to include various kinds of multimedia elements in your output, including video, audio, and 3D models. See About Multimedia.
- Page Layouts Read more… A page layout is an element 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 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 PDF, Microsoft Word), whereas master pages can be used only for Microsoft Word when creating print-based output. See About Page Layouts.
- 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 Tutorials topic in Flare's Help system is one example where such a responsive layout is used.
See Responsive Content.
- Snippets Read more… A snippet is a file that is sort of like a miniature topic. You can insert and format text, tables, images, and whatever else can be included in a normal topic. A snippet can be inserted 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. We’re not usually talking about single words or phrases; that’s what variables are for.
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.
- Topics Read more… A topic is a file containing information about a particular subject. Topics are 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.
- 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.
- Additional Elements and Objects Read more… In addition to the primary elements and objects, you can also incorporate many other features into your projects, such as browse sequences, glossaries, indexes, proxies, and more. See Additional Elements and Objects.
After you add elements 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 elements 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 elements (i.e., topics, content, cross-references, etc.) to it.