Top 5 things I like about Flare 9

MadCap Software has released a new major version of Flare, the help authoring tool I use, with much fanfare. I focus on enhancements that are most useful to me in my daily work. They are minor compared to, say, the new support of right-to-left languages, but I appreciate them because they make my work easier! For the major enhancements, visit the Flare product website.

5. WebHelp can search for partial words

The search in our standard WebHelp output can be enhanced to find partial words. (Note that performance may hurt since this option increases the size of the output, specifically of the search database.)

4. New “Condition” option in right-click menu

I can now select text or paragraphs in a topic and apply a condition by using the right-click menu. Previously, I needed to use a ribbon option (or maybe a keyboard shortcut?). While this is merely another way to add a condition, I find it convenient and supporting the way I work.

3. “Add File” dialog uses current location

Flare 9 behaves differently when I add a file, such as a topic, an image or a snippet! The “Add File” dialog now uses the current location, not some default location as before. So the new file will go “wherever I am” in the Content Explorer!

I like this for two reasons:

  • I almost never add topics to the default folder, so I had to change the file location just about every time.
  • And conversely, I won’t accidentally drop topics into the Main folder anymore where I don’t expect them…

2. Styling a table cell no longer trashes the table code

A bug would break the XML when I tried to apply a span tag to the complete content in a table cell. As a workaround, I could apply an extra unstyled space – or fix the code in the code view.

It’s a small bug fix to be sure, but it annoyed me enough that I (along with other users) submitted a bug report – and today I heard back in an email that they had actually fixed it. So this one is nice also for showing MadCap reacts to user requests!

1. Synced split-view of topic and XML code

This featured enhancement is a big help to me: I really like the “open everything” approach of Flare where I can access content and even settings files as ASCII text files and monkey around in the code, if I’m so inclined. Sometimes, I find it’s easier and faster to fix a table or a nested list in the code rather than the editor. And Flare is cool for letting me do that.

But: So far, it could be tedious to move from the regular editor to the code view and locate the place I want to fix. The new synced split-level view makes my geeky way of editing much faster as I can seamlessly move back and forth between topic view and code view!

– If you use MadCap Flare 9, what enhancements or bug fixes do you like?