Structure Bars

The XML Editor provides structure bars above and to the left of the content area in order to provide a visual display of the topic tags and structure. These bars provide you with information about your content without having to view all of the tags mixed within the text. There are two types of structure bars: tag bars and span bars.

[Menu Proxy — Headings — Online — Depth3 ]

Tag Bars

Tag bars are displayed to the left of the content area. They show the different tags for your chunks of content. To open and close these bars, click at the bottom of the XML Editor.

The broadest tag in a topic is the <html> tag, which controls the formatting of the entire topic. This tag is displayed on the far left of the structure bars. Within an <html> tag is the <body> tag. Because the <body> tag is contained within the <html> tag, it is shown to the right of the <html> tag in the visual structure. Within the <body> tag are one or more tags that represent the various kinds of content in your topic. For example, a first-level heading might have an "h1" label, which means that the paragraph shown to the right of it is using an <h1> tag. Regular paragraphs show <p> tag bars next to them. A numbered list shows an <ol> (ordered list) tag, and within that tag are multiple list <li> tags that represent each numbered item.

Tags for tables, rows, and the content within them are also represented by tag bars. The main <table> tag represents the entire table.

Within that tag you can see the <caption>, <thead>, <tbody>, and <tfoot> tags. These tags represent any table captions, header rows, regular table body rows, and footer rows, respectively.

Within those tags you can see the <tr> tags, which represent the individual rows in the table.

Within those tags you can see <th> or <td> tags when you click in different cells. These tags represent content for table headers or regular cell text, respectively.

And finally, within those tags you may see other types of tags such as <p>, <ul>, or <li> (paragraphs, lists), depending on the types of content you add to those rows.

You can easily resize individual rows by dragging the edge of the bar up or down, and you can rearrange rows by clicking and dragging a row up or down. See Resizing Tables and Moving Table Columns and Rows.

Span Bars

Span bars are displayed at the top of the content area. They show formatting tags at the character level. To open and close these bars, click in the local toolbar at the bottom of the XML Editor.

Example If you highlight a word in a paragraph and make it bold, you will see a "b" in a bar above (referring to a <b> tag).

Span bars are especially useful when working with cross-references ("MadCap:xref" labels) or hyperlinks ("a" labels).

Example If you have a cross-reference in a topic and want to change its destination file, you can right-click on its corresponding span bar and select Edit Cross-Reference from the menu.

Table column bars are grouped with the span bars, being displayed above them in the XML Editor.

You can easily resize the columns by dragging the edge of the bar left or right, and you can rearrange the columns by clicking and dragging a column to the left or right. See Resizing Tables and Moving Table Columns and Rows.

Note In order to see table column bars, you need to click inside a table. The reason for this is that a topic might contain many tables, and because column bars are displayed across the top of the editor (rather than down the left side), Flare first needs to know which table you want to work on before it can show you its column bars.

Taking Action on Structure Bars

Not only do structure bars let you see the tags for content, but you can also perform numerous tasks by using them.

  • Select Options If you right-click on a structure bar, a context menu opens. From the menu, you can select from several options to take action on the content associated with that structure bar.

    Example If you want to delete an entire numbered list from a topic, you could right-click the ol structure bar to the left of the content and select Delete from the menu.

    If you have a table with a table stylesheet applied to it, you can right-click on one of the tr structure bars and select Row Style. From the submenu you can then choose a pattern to overwrite the existing look for that row.

  • Select Content If you left-click on a structure bar, the corresponding content is selected in the editor.

    You can SHIFT-click on structure bars to extend the current selection to that content block.

    Example You have several paragraphs in a row, and you click halfway into the first paragraph.

    While holding down the SHIFT key, you click on the paragraph structure bar for the third paragraph. As a result, the content from the point of the cursor to the end of the third paragraph is selected.

    If you select multiple blocks of content, all of the structure bars involved in that selection are highlighted in blue. If an entire block is included in the selection, the structure bar is shaded in darker blue. If blocks are partially selected, those structure bars are shaded in lighter blue.

  • Move Tag Bars If you left-click on tag bars, you can drag them up or down. If you left-click on table column bars (in the span bar area), you can drag them left or right. In this way, the chunks of topic content can easily be repositioned. In addition, you can click on the borders between column and row bars and drag the mouse to resize individual columns and rows. See Moving Paragraphs and Other Content With Structure Bars, Moving Table Columns and Rows, and Resizing Tables.