Using MadCap Flare 2017 for company procedures – Quick review

We’ve been setting our staff the challenge of using some of the popular Help Authoring tools to create online company documents.

We asked them to make some notes on the applications they used. Here are some of the notes relating to MadCap Flare 2017:

“You soon become aware it’s a really powerful tool. Is this actually a CMS?

It’s a breeze to import content. The authoring environment is nice and easy to use. It’s easy to jump into the HTML if you want to. Easy to make global changes. 🙂 You can carry on working in Flare while it’s building the output files.

It complex, though. To make a change to the look and feel, I’d ask myself do I change the skin, the master page, or the stylesheet? When you know where the setting is, you can make lots of tweaks and changes.

The web pages it creates seem to load really quickly. The only downside of publishing is it creates a lot of subfolders. I had to manually create the folders on the website. That took a while to do.”

Using RoboHelp 2017 for company procedures – Quick review

We’ve been setting our staff the challenge of using some of the popular Help Authoring tools to create online company documents.

We asked them to make some notes on the applications they used. Here are some of the notes relating to RoboHelp 2017:

“Straightforward to use. Easy to import the content.

The responsive web templates supplied with it are nice looking and easy to customise. The layout editor has images that help you identify easily which stylesheet elements to change.

The search and replace didn’t change everything I wanted. I don’t know if I was using it incorrectly.

When you press the build/generate button, you have to wait until that process has finished before you can do anything else.

The output it creates produces folders that are all in lowercase, apart from one. If you need to manually create the folders on your website, this can catch you out. It did me.

The ability for users to filter content is really useful. You can filter content so it only relates to a country, a job role, pre and post brexit, etc. Obviously, you need to markup the document, and know where these conditions should apply.”

Staff handbook written in Word and converted to a responsive Web layout

In recent posts, we’ve been describing different ways to publish policy and procedure documents online.

Here’s an example of a staff handbook that has been converted from Word to a responsive web layout.

staff handbook welcome page

The home page provides links to the main sections in the handbook. In this example, we also changed many of the sentences that were in the passive voice to the active voice.

We could have made more improvements:

  • Added colour to highlight what staff must do.
  • Provided links to related applications and forms.
  • Added images and flowcharts.

The document has been broken down into a series of web pages, with a responsive web layout. This means the pages can be easily read on a mobile phone or a tablet.

Converting policy documents written in Word to HTML – Example

In recent posts, we’ve been describing the different ways to publish policy and procedure documents online. Often, organisations want to write their content in Microsoft Word, as staff are familiar with the application. However, they also want a very nice, and usable, online version.

Here’s an example of a direct conversion from Word to HTML.

Before – Example Mobile Phone Policy IT-0022-v2

policy-example-before-screenshot

After – Mobile phone policy – written in Word  and converted to HTML

policy-example-after-screenshot

In this example, we have not amended the source content before conversion, nor the default template. We just imported the document and pressed the Build button.

The document has been broken down into a series of web pages, with a responsive web layout. This means the pages can be easily read on a mobile phone.

The writers would make any changes to the policy by amending the Word document. You’d then run the conversion again, and upload the revised web pages.

Pre- and Post- Brexit procedures examples

Below are two proof of concept examples of a policy document. In these examples, the selling old mobile phones topic contains a filter for pre- and post- Brexit information. Users can use the filter option to switch between both versions.

The benefit of doing this is because the reader doesn’t get overwhelmed with information, and the writer can manage the both sets of information in a single topic.

Mobile phone policy – version 1

This example has tabs on the left hand navigation panel.

policy topic

The funnel icon tab enables you to exclude content. In this example, you can exclude pre- and post- Brexit information on the selling old mobile phones topic.

policy topic

policy topic

The A-Z folder icon tab enables departments, budget holders and line managers to see which topics are relevant to them.

policy topic

Mobile phone policy – version 2 

In this example, you can exclude pre- and post- Brexit information on the selling old mobile phones topic by using the drop down menu at the top of the topic.

policy topic

policy topic

It also contains a job role tab that enables departments, budget holders and line managers to see which topics are relevant to them.

job role topic

You can click on the menu icon to display the navigation window.

Brexit and the impact on organisational policies and procedures

With the triggering of Article 50, the United Kingdom is likely to be out of the single market in two years time. It will be able to set its own regulations within the United Kingdom, but will almost certainly have to follow EU regulations when trading with EU27 countries.

This means organisations will have to manage two sets of compliance rules, and possibly two sets of policies and procedures, which will be similar in many areas.

One approach is to have two documents, cutting and pasting between the two. This can be time-consuming, and with this approach it is easy for mistakes to creep in.

Another way is to have one document with different sections marked up to identify which territory’s rules they relate to. This is known as conditional text. You create “conditional build tags” to include or exclude content from output, and then assign those tags to topics or parts of topics. For example, when you publish, you set the conditions to “United Kingdom” for the UK-only guide, and it will only contain the United Kingdom rules.

conditional text

conditional text publishing

You can also create output that your users can easily filter based on parameters that you define using conditional text. For example, you can create a filter that allows your users to filter the output by UK or EU27 rules.

Filter content by country

This approach means your writers can work from a single source – no more cutting and pasting!