Home » Step 3: Generate the output using the madcap flare software

Step 3: Generate the output using the madcap flare software

In this post we will concentrate on adding some more styles to your project and generating an output using madcap flare application. The madcap flare application provides the following types of output:

  • HTML5
  • PDF
  • Word
  • Clean XHTML
  • Eclipse Help
  • EPUB
  • HTML

If you have followed Step 1 and Step 2 of our madcap flare tutorial series, then you should have a created a project and added contents to it. However, until now we are working with individual topics. All we have a set of topics, but what we need a well structured output. It can be an online help with HTML5 output or a user guide or manual in PDF format or word document, or all of them.

Let us first start with arranging all our topics and adding a structure or flow to your content.

Add a table of contents to structure the output

A table of contents (TOC) is a file that provides flow to your content by arranging topics. There are two ways of arranging topics, you can either do it manually or automatically.

When generating TOC automatically, the madcap flare creates sub-entries in a TOC for the subheadings in your topics. Alternatively, you need to add each entry manually. I prefer the manual option as it gives me more flexibility to structure the TOC.

You can easily add books and links to the topics, videos, files outside your projects, other TOCs, browse sequences, or other Help systems and structure them according to your need.

  1. Go to Project Organizer > TOCs and open the TOC file.
    By default, there will be one file created, if you want to create more than one TOCs, then do the following:
    1. Right click the TOCs folder and select Add Table of Contents.
      Add a table of contents to structure your output
    2. In the Add File dialog box, enter the file name, and then click Add.
  2. In the TOC Editor window, add entries using any of the following ways:
    • Create a new topic and simultaneously link it to a new entry in the TOC:
      1. In the TOC editor toolbar, click Create a new topic and link to it icon (create a new topic and link to it icon).
      2. In the Add File dialog box, enter the topic details. For more information see create a new topic.
    • Create a new entry and then, create a new topic to link it:
      1. In the TOC editor toolbar, click New item icon (new item in toc icon). A new entry with a flag icon (Flag icon) in front of it is created.
      2. Righ-click the newly created and unlinked TOC entry, and then select Link to New Topic.
        right-click on a toc entry
      3. In the Add File dialog box, enter the topic details. For more information see create a new topic.
    • Create a new entry and then, link it to an existing topic:
      1. In the TOC editor toolbar, click New item icon (new item in toc icon). A new entry with a flag icon (Flag icon) in front of it is created.
      2. Righ-click the newly created and unlinked TOC entry, and then select Link to Topic.
      3. In the Select File dialog box, select a file to link it to the TOC entry.
    • Drag and drop (this one is my favorite): From the content explorer, select a topic, and then drag and drop it in the TOC editor.
  3. Use the Arrow icons in the TOC editor toolbar to arrange the TOC entries.
    arrows icon in the Table of contents editor toolbar
  4. Save the TOC file.

Add a target to select the output type

You should first decide the output type you need before producing an output. You may need more than one output of the same format or multiple outputs of different types. For each output you need a target file.

  1. To add a target file, do one of the following:
    • Go to the Project ribbon and then, select New > Add Target.
    • Go to Project Organizer, right-click the Targets folder, and then select Add Target.
  2. In the Add File dialog box, in the Source column, select a template. You can select from the factory templates provided by the madcap software team or select New from existing and then select a target created by you.
  3. In the Target section, enter the file name in the File Name box.
  4. Select an output format or type from the Output Type drop-down list.
  5. Click Add.
    Add a target file to generate output

For more information on the tasks associated with the target settings go to this link.

Managing page layouts

You can use a page layout for a print-based output, to define page specifications such as size, margins, borders, and add headers, footers, page numbers to all your topics.

Add a page layout

Depending upon your need, you can add any number of page layouts in a project. If your guide contains different sections or chapters, which require different headers, footers, page size, orientation, margins, background image, or page numbers, then you need multiple page layouts. Else, one is sufficient for your entire document.

  1. To add a page layout file, do one of the following:
    • Go to the Project ribbon and then, select New > Add Page Layout.
    • Go to Content Explorer, right-click the a folder, where you want to keep your page layout file, and then select New > Page Layout.
  2. In the Add File dialog box, in the Source column, select a template. You can select from the factory templates provided by the madcap software team or select New from existing and then select a target created by you.
  3. In the Page Layout section, enter the file name in the File Name box.
  4. Click Add.
    Add a page layout

Add and design pages in a page layout

After adding a page layout, decide the types of pages you need in each page layout. For example, you may want every chapter of your guide should have a different first page, a left page, and a right page. To achieve this, you need to add a First right page, a left page, and a right page.

to design each pages, you need to add frames on it, for example a header frame, a body frame, and a footer frame. Each frame has a different purpose; for example, a body frame holds the content of the topic.

  1. From the Content Explorer, open a page layout.
  2. In the Page Layout Editor, from the right section, right-click on a page, and then select one of the following:
    • Duplicate Page: To add a page with all the settings copied from the selected page.
    • Mirror Page: To add a page with all the settings mirrored from the selected page. In this the settings, such as margins, padding, etc. for right side will change to left side and vice versa.
    • Add Page: To add a blank page.
    • Copy Page: To copy the selected page and then select Paste page to paste the copied page. You can copy and paste a page to a different page layout.

    add a page to design a page layout for printed output

  3. After adding a page, the next step is to add frames. In the Page Layout Editor, from the right section, select a Page.
  4. In the toolbar, click New Frame Mode icon, and then select one of the following frame types:
    • New Frame Mode: On a blank page, you can draw all types of frames using this one option. when you select it for the first time, it will give you a body frame, second time a header frame, third time a footer, and then a decoration frame.
    • New Header Frame Mode: To draw a header frame. As there is only one header allowed or needed on a page, it is only enabled when there is no header available on a page.
    • New Footer Frame Mode: To draw a footer frame. Similar to header frame you can insert only one footer.
    • New Body Frame Mode: To draw a body frame. This frame will contain the content of the topics.
    • New Decoration Frame Mode: To add a decoration frame, which is used to add decorative material on your page, for example, you may want to add a border, some colored block, or some text to your pages.
    • New Image Frame: To add an image frame, which is used to add an image to your page. For example, to add a logo. You can also use a decoration frame to insert an image.
      Insert a frame
  5. Click on the page and then drag and draw a frame according to your need.
  6. If you inserted two body frames, then right-click on one of the frame, and then select Select Next Frame to define the flow of the content.
  7. Right-click on a frame and select Properties, to edit the frame settings.
  8. On a header, footer, or decoration, right-click and then select Edit Text to enter text or Select Frame Text to insert text from the templates provided by madcap flare. Also, you can press F2 to edit text.

For more information on how to design a page, go to this page on Madcap flare official online help.

Design a master page

A master page is mainly used for online output, however, you can use it for Word outputs as well. A master page is used to insert breadcrumbs, menus, toolbars, search bars, mini-TOCs, or footer text to multiple topics in the output.

  1. To add a master page, do one of the following:
    • In the Content Explorer, right-click the folder where you want to keep your master page file, and then select New > Master Page.
    • In the top-pane, go to the Project ribbon, and then select New > Master Page.
  2. In the Add File dialog box, enter the following information:
    1. In the Source column, select a template. You can select from the factory templates provided by the madcap software team or select New from existing to select a master page created by you.
    2. In the Master Page section, enter the file name in the File Name box.
  3. Click Add.
    Add a master page to design the output
  4. Double-click the newly added master page to open it.
    A master is similar to a topic, you can add the content which you want to see on multiple topics. See authoring in flare to learn how to add content.
  5. In master pages you need to insert proxies to add content such as, topics content, Breadcrumbs, Menu, Search Bar, Glossary, Index, TOC, Page Header, Page Footer, Mini-TOC. Some proxies are inserted automatically depending upon the master page template selected in Step 2.
    To insert a topic:
    1. Place the cursor where you want to insert a proxy.
    2. In the top-pane, go to the Insert ribbon, and then select Proxy> Proxy > Insert [Type of Proxy].
  6. Save the file and Associate it with the Target on the Advanced tab of the target file.

To learn more about the tasks associated with the master pages, go to this link.

Add a skin

The appearance of an online output such as the color of the output window, navigation items, logo, etc, is controlled by the skin. You can find your project skin in the Left-pane in Project Organizer > Skins folder.

For more information go to this link.

Generate the output

After adding all the content and designing your output, the last step is to generate the output. Open the target file and from the toolbar, click Build.

After the build process is complete, verify the output if it meets your requirement. If not, then modify it.

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