Last week, I spoke at, and attended, Madworld 2016, the conference hosted by MadCap Software for its users. Here is a summary of what I saw and heard on the second day. These were mostly for advanced users; I didn’t see any of the presentations aimed at new users of Flare.
The MadWorld 2016 app
MadCap created a mobile app for the conference, which acted like a private Twitter stream. It also contained up-to-date information on the schedule, plus links to downloadable files.
Twice each day, delegates received an email digest of posts from the app.
The app worked really well, and it contributed to the conference’s community feel. The only disadvantage was it meant that there was very few posts on other Social Media platforms.
Case Study: Customize All the Things!
Help Authoring tools have now become powerful tools for publishing responsive web pages. With the frameless web output option, you have the opportunity to include a wide range of web functionality. For example, MadCap Flare’s advanced top navigation output target option uses the Zurb Foundation 5 layout – this is a flexible web framework for front end web page design.
Mike Kelley showed how he had created a unique Help experience using MadCap Flare for inContact’s Cloud contact centre software. A number of presenters had used a modified Foundation layout in their Help projects, and, in inContact’s case, they had created a customised layout for the placement of the topic body, side menu and breadcrumb trail.
He had also created a side menu that didn’t float in the topic, by using the Zurb Foundation’s three column layout. It struck me that their solution could also be used to create to three column layout similar to that used in the Stripe API documentation, with sample code in the right column.
Finally, he demonstrated a modern day replacement for image maps, which he’d developed using the QTip2 plugin.
Using MadCap Flare with Source Control
Matthew Ellison provided a beginner’s guide to using Flare with source control. Source control provides you with a central repository containing a copy of your project, with all previous versions of all project files. Files are copied from source control to a local workspace for working on, and your changes are copied back from the local workspace to the source control. Some of the source control features are buried within Flare, and Matthew pointed out a number of capabilities in Flare that could be easily missed.
Don’t Take That Tone With Me!
Actually, this was my second presentation at the conference. We looked at examples of companies that have adopted a friendlier, conversational tone, including exploring how Microsoft®’s “No More Robot Speak” program has been implemented in the online Help for its Office and Windows products. I explained the reasons for this change, the techniques used, and the implications of this on the technical writing and localization teams. The audience was very engaged, and I found there was a lot of interest in this subject.
Extending HTML5 Targets with jQuery
- Adding drop captions to images
- Generating PDFs on the fly
- Adding annotations to a web page
- Sticking the top menu to the top of the browser window while scrolling past it, so it is always kept in view
- Making sure new content was highlighted to users, whenever they visited a page. This plugin tracked a user’s actions without requiring login, authentication or any server-side processing. This would be useful where you needed to make users were aware of any changes to policies and procedures since they last visited a page.
- Formatting code samples
Madbuild Bliss: A Case Study in MadCap Flare Build Automation
Andrei Essaoulov provided a review of MadCap Flare’s automation capabilities. These included creating batches for publishing, scheduling automatic publishing, setting up publishing destinations, and the Madbuild command line utility. Madbuild is a utility that many users don’t seem to know. It means you can publish content automatically – you don’t need to have Flare running.
Andrei went into more detail about the Jenkins builds and PowerShell scripts kCura uses to publish automatically. Automating the documentation build and integrating it with the teams processes enabled them to deliver up-to-date content more efficiently and improve the overall quality of documentation content.