I am working on a project that requires using the same H1 and 3 H2s in about 50 topics.  These topics would end up as topic popups in image maps throughout the online help project.

Instead of copying the first topic over and over, I decided to use the template feature.  Since, technically, I was creating snippets that would become topics controlled by condition tags, I needed to create a snippet template.

First, I had to create a template folder on my pc – so I did that through Flare: Tools > Manage Templates and clicked on New Template Folder and followed the windows. Easy peasy.

Next I needed to create the template itself. I made a couple of mistakes that, next time, I won’t make. First, I created the template from a snippet I had already made. That, in itself, was not a mistake – but I had left content in the H1 so it has carried through to every snippet created from the template. It’s not a heinous error – but it’s annoying (and I know I could fix it…I’ve just chosen not to). In retrospect, I should have created the template from scratch – and not having done that, I should have deleted all content before making the existing content a template.

Once I got the snippet looking the way I needed it to, I was on my way. Here’s what it looked like (I added the text to show more than just the html tags on the left).

Once I saved the topic as a snippet, I had to add it to my Templates folder. I did the following:

  1. I went to Tools > Manage Templates and clicked on the folder I had created earlier – then the Add New Template icon .
  2. I then found the snippet I wanted to add as a snippet via the Explorer window that opened.
  3. I named the template something I would remember and made sure that it was located in MY templates folder (as opposed to Flare’s).

Here’s what my template manager looks like with my new template.

To use this snippet template, create a new snippet as you normally would: Project > Add Snippet…but instead of just naming the snippet and moving on, you would select your new template from your template folder and then name the snippet. The new snippet would have the structure you created there for you to fill out.

Have you used templates in Flare? if so, for what?

I’ve been using Flare for a long time, since v1…and for most of that time, I’d never understood what a mini-TOC was and how to use one in online help. Sure, I’d read all the info on them and even read forum posts on them…I didn’t truly understand how to use them and when.

Now I know. (Don’t judge me because I’m slow)

My client likes all the books in the Table of Contents (ostensibly introductory pages) linked to an actual page that lists all the topics in that section. Before the mini-toc, I had to keep track of all the pages in the section, make sure they were in the right order, make sure they read the same, everything. I was constantly pinged by Testing that things weren’t consistent with the TOC.

I found out how wonderfully a mini-toc does this….I don’t have to keep track of new topics, whether they’re noted on the intro page or not. As soon as I create a mini-toc for that section on the intro page, any new topics added to the section be reflected on that page.

To get the mini-TOC to work the way I have it working, you need the following:

  • Table of Contents (TOC)  set up or at least started
  • Multiple levels (books) in the TOC
  • Pages linked to the book page

Here’s an example of what I mean by a multi-level TOC with pages linked to the books.

The box showing a path shows the link to the Admin book. You’ll see that all books and pages have links (identified by the lack of the broken link icon).

The mini-TOC, when used, will show all the pages in a particular book. In the TOC above, when I insert a mini-TOC on the Admin intro page, the four topics in that book will show.

To make this happen, I open the topic to which the book is linked, in this case it’s called Admin Tasks. In the XML Editor, after an introductory sentence or two, I insert the mini-TOC (Insert > Proxy > Insert mini-TOC  Proxy), like this:

If you were to preview this topic, the mini-toc would look like this:

You can change the look of the items via the CSS.

When I build the output, here’s what the page with a mini-toc looks like:

Again, the absolute neatest thing about a mini-toc in online output is that you don’t have to keep making sure that an intro page contains all the topics in that section/book. The mini-toc keeps track of it for you.