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

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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.

MadCap Flare and MadCap Central April 2019 Releases: Micro Content and More

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.
Mac user? See ClickHelp. Working on an extended expiration date.

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.) Please note that when request access to Pantheon, your instructor will not receive any message; please e-mail your instructor yourself.
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. Create a simple build with these characteristics, naming the .flprj file with some identifiable part of your name, followed be _simple (for example, davidmcm_simple.flprj. Upload this 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. Create a build with links, naming the .flprj file with some identifiable part of your name, followed by _links (for example, davidmcm_links.flprj. Upload this build containing formatting and a different logo to your MadCap Central account.
  2. Use this video to learn how to set up and display different conditions (versions) of your help. Others will not be able to see your conditions in a build. Send your .flprj file to me your instructors, naming the .flprj file with some identifiable part of your name, followed by _conditions (for example, davidmcm_conditions.flprj.
  3. Upload your build containing links 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. Others will not be able to see your snippets in a build. Send your .flprj file to me your instructors, naming the .flprj file with some identifiable part of your name, followed by _snippets (for example, davidmcm_snippets.flprj.
  2. Use this video to learn how to create variables in your help (includes auto-suggestion). Others will not be able to see your variables in a build. Send your .flprj file to me your instructor, naming the .flprj file with some identifiable part of your name, followed be _variables (for example, davidmcm_variables.flprj.

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. Create a build with a TOC, naming the .flprj file with some identifiable part of your name, followed by _toc (for example, davidmcm_toc.flprj. Upload this build to your MadCap Central account.
  2. Use this video to see how to create a PDF and an index for it. Create a build for a PDF containing an index, naming the .flprj file with some identifiable part of your name, followed by _PDF (for example, davidmcm_PDF.flprj. Upload this build to your MadCap Central account.
  3. As for indexes for online, technical writers debate whether indexes are really necessary in online information if a search function is available.

  4. Upload your builds containing a TOC and a PDF with index 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

Create just one build containing the following:

  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. Create one build containing a graphic, a table, audio, and video, naming the .flprj file with some identifiable part of your name, followed by _unit5 (for example, davidmcm_unit5.flprj. Upload this unit 5 build 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.

Bonus Videos

Unit 7: Importing to Flare

As with snippets and variables, there is no way I your instructor can look at your builds to see that you have successfully imported HTML, Word, CHM, or DITA. Nor can I see anything in your .flprj files. However, importing is highly likely to be the first kind of work you do with Flare as a new hire. Therefore, let's have an Open Forum discussion on how it went importing things.

Here is MadCap's tutorial on importing.

  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. You should be able to grab any HTML file and import it. But because some HTML files are so ridiculously complex, try this one: Online Help Documentation Project
  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. Here is a CHM file to download and import: 7-zip.chm
  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. Here is a zip file of a DITA project called dita_recipes.zip. Download it and unzip it to a spot of your computer that you can find from within a Flare project. This video should shown you how to do the rest.
  5. In the Open Forum, post an account of how importing went for you, what problems if any you had. Be honest! If you have any tips, share them with us.

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:

Optional (not required) Flare items:

  • Zip and send Flare projects. When you want to zip and send the Flare project file (.flprj), you can't just send the .flprj file by itself. See this video for how to send the full project.
  • Creating a PDF with Flare. This video is based on Print > User Guide Basic, which has pagination problems hard to resolve. A better choice is Online & Print > Tripane and PDF Basic. When building, select UserGuide.
  • Indexing in Flare. MadCap Flare does not have a reasonable solution for indicating page ranges in a PDF index.
  • Indexing page ranges in Flare. But here it is.

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: