Madcap flare tutorial for beginners – How to use madcap Flare in 3 simple steps

Overview

Flare has many features within it. You might use only a few of them, while others may find some other features useful. In this lesson (Madcap Flare Overview), I will be describing some features that are important for all writers and used  most of the time.

Madcap Flare Overview

Flare is an Extensible Hypertext Markup Language (XHTML) authoring tool, which is a cross between Extensible Markup Language (XML) and Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). Even if you do not know anything about XHTML, XML, or HTML, you can build your content in Flare’s XML Editor, as you work in any other text editor.

One of the strongest points of flare is its single-sourcing.

It means that you can use the same content again to produce many outputs. Think of producing an online-help and a user manual, using the same content, or creating documents for different types of audiences. You can achieve this in many ways, using various features in Flare, such as:

  • Topic-Based authoring
  • Snippets
  • Variables
  • Conditions

The central pillar of madcap Flare architecture is the concept of topic-based authoring. Most of the authoring tools keep all your content in a single file; the content, the table of contents, the styles, and so on; but flare keeps all your content in separate files or topics. A topic is a block of information, that is tiny enough to be specific to a single subject.

Knowing the Flare interface

As a new user, it is always best to understand the software, before working with it. It is good to familiarize yourself with:

  • Its interface
  • Know what different options are available
  • How to access them.

Flare uses a modern Multiple Document Interface (MDI) that provides you many options to work the way that you want. It has the following main sections:

  1. Top–Ribbons: This section contains all the features and menus.
  2. Left–Pane: This section contains many explorers to access all the madcap flare files. You will find all your content files in this section. This section has the following tabs:
    1. Content Explorer: In general you will find all your styles and content related files in this tab; for example, topics, stylesheets, master pages, and many more.
    2. Project Explorer: You will find all your output related files in this tab; for example, Target files, table of contents, condition tags, variables, and many more.
  3. Right–Pane: This pane has the following tabs:
    1. Find and Replace
    2. Styles
    3. Dynamic help
  4. Bottom–Pane: You will see your build progress window and messages window in this pane.
  5. Middle-section: You could see many of the flare files editors in this section; such as XML editor, TOC editor, Stylesheet editor. When you start the madcap flare application, you will find a start page appearing in this window, which you can use to perform some high-level tasks and access information.
    madcap flare interface

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