Michelangelo. The Creation of Adam (1508-1512)
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Calendar
February 18
February 25
March 4
March 11
March 18 spring break
March 25
April 1
April 8
April 15
April 22
April 29
May 6
May 13

Other Links
ACC home page
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Course Description

Online Help & Help-Authoring Tools (ETWR 2374) is a workshop-style course in which you study the evolution and function of online help; critique existing online help; learn structuring principles and navigation tools common in online help; create online helps using several leading online help-authoring tools such as RoboHelp, Flare, and Help & Manual; and write your own online help for a software product. This course is still a writing course: you'll focus on audiences, organization, content, transitions, format, and good writing in general throughout.

Course Start-Up

Getting organized. In this first week, take a look at the schedule, policies, objectives, and requirements for this course. Fill out an online questionnaire.

Go through the list of startup activities to get going in this course.— due Feb. 21.
MadCap Flare jobs. Take a look at MadCap Flare's list of Flare jobs.

A note about the McMurrey videos: To get this and my other courses ready, I did not have enough time to write out scripts and rehearse for the videos. I hope you can still follow them well enough.

Unit 1: Install MadCap Flare & Orientation

Online help. Get some basics on just what online help is.

An Overview of MadCap Flare: Topic-Based Authoring & Single-Source Publishing. Video by Jenn Morse, MadCap Product Evangelist. Thanks, Jenn!

  1. If you've not done so already, go to Reserved Readings for information on installing Flare.
  2. E-mail your instructor when you have completed the installation. Your instructor will get you set up your account at MadCap Central where you will displays your Flare work.
  3. Let's take this video cruise to explore what online helps are and what MadCap Flare is.
  4. Next, use this video to get familiarized with the basic parts of the Flare interface you will be using. (This information is covered in the training guide, "Getting Around in Flare," page 16.
  5. Finally, use this video to learn how we will use MadCap Central to upload Flare projects (the .flprj file) and view each other's work. Here's MadCap's video on Central. (Part 1 is enough.)
Both these units are due Feb. 21.

Unit 2: Simple Build with MadCap Flare; Formatting Help Topics

  1. Use this video to learn how to create a simple build.
  2. Use this video to learn how to use a different logo in a Flare build.
  3. Add bold, italics, numbered and bulleted lists, different colors and fonts.
  4. Upload your simple build containing formatting and a different logo to your MadCap Central account.

By logging into MadCap Central and navigating to your account, your instructor should be able to see this build.

This unit is due Mar 3.

Unit 3: Cross-References & Hypertext Links; Using Conditions in Flare

  1. Use this video to learn how to output online help containing containing hypertext links.
  2. Use this video to learn how to set up and display different conditions (versions) of your help.
  3. Upload your builds containing links and conditions to your MadCap Central account.

Optional: We will not study templates directly but here is a tutorial on converting a top-nav project to a side-nav project:

Converting to a different template

By logging into MadCap Central and navigating to your account, your instructor should be able to see these builds.

This unit is due Mar. 10.

Unit 4: Flare Snippets & Variables

  1. Use this video to learn how to create a snippet in your help.
  2. Use this video to learn how to create variables in your help (includes auto-suggestion).
  3. Upload your build containing snippets and variables to your MadCap Central account.

By logging into MadCap Central and navigating to your account, your instructor should be able to see this build.

This unit is due Mar. 17.

Unit 5: Building & Generating TOCs in Flare

  1. Use this video to learn how to set up and generate a table of contents (TOC) in your help.
  2. The original plan was to have a video on indexing in Flare. The main guide does not seem to have caught up with the new version. Even so, technical writers debate whether indexes are really necessary in online information if a search function is available.
  3. Upload your build containing a TOC to your MadCap Central account.

By logging into MadCap Central and navigating to your account, your instructor should be able to see this build.

This unit is due Mar. 31.

Unit 6: Adding Graphics, Tables, and Media to Flare Projects

  1. Use this video to learn how to add and format graphics to your help.
  2. Use this video to learn how to create tables in your help.
  3. Use this video to learn how to add audio (podcasts) to your help.
  4. Use this video to learn how to add video to your help.
  5. Upload your builds containing graphics, tables, audio, and video to your MadCap Central account.

By logging into MadCap Central and navigating to your account, your instructor should be able to see these builds.

This unit is due Apr. 7.

Unit 7: Importing to Flare

  1. Use this video to learn how to import a HTML files to your help, give this build an identifying name and upload it to your MadCap Central account.
  2. Use this video to learn how to import a CHM project to your help, give this build an identifying name and upload it to your MadCap Central account.
  3. Use this video to learn how to import a Word document to your help, give this build an identifying name and upload it to your MadCap Central account.
  4. Use this video to learn how to import a DITA document to your help, give this build an identifying name and upload it to your MadCap Central account.
  5. Label each of the builds according to what it imported, then upload these builds containing imports to your MadCap Central account.

By logging into MadCap Central and navigating to your account, your instructor should be able to see these two build.

This unit is due Apr. 14.

Unit 8: Detailed Plans for Your Flare Project; Using and Modifying CSS in Flare

  1. Review the final project ideas and the requirements at grading plan for your final project. Then create a simple help file in which you describe your final project, give this build an identifying name and upload it to your MadCap Central account.
  2. Use this video to learn how to create or modify CSS for your help projects, give this build an identifying name and upload it to your MadCap Central account.
  3. Upload your build containing modified CSS your MadCap Central account.
This unit is due Apr. 21.

Unit 9:

Nothing due this week ending Apr. 28.

Unit 10:

Nothing due this week ending May 5.

Unit 11:

At the end of this week, May 12, your preliminary draft of your project is due.

Do the following:

  1. Complete as much of your site as possible by May 12.
  2. E-mail your instructor that your site is available for review.
  3. Expect a review of your site by May 15
  4. Correspond with your instructor about revision; Complete the rest of your site May 19.
  5. E-mail your instructor that the final draft of your site is available for review.

Your preliminary draft is due May 12.

The final draft of your project is due May 19.

What's Next?

If you want to continue learning essential tasks in Flare, consider looking at these Flare videos: