RE: MadCap - Flare

Subject: RE: MadCap - Flare
From: "Char James-Tanny" <CharJT -at- helpstuff -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 21 Apr 2005 11:03:33 -0400

> In my view, to deride them for the use of the word "impending" simply
> because that word may be interpreted differently by different people
> is unfortunate.

I'll agree to disagree :-) Just a note: MadCap Software never said that
Flare was impending.

> On the one hand, the fact that these folks were prime movers behind
> RoboHelp is decidedly a mixed blessing--especially if the new product
> were to exhibit some of the RoboHelp eccentricities. On the other,
> they have had sufficient exposure to the concerns of users and what it
> takes to get a product out the door and to support it in the field.

Correct, and I think Flare could be a great tool if they take all this into

> Personally, I am quite willing to give them the benefit of the doubt
> and have signed up for the beta program. I view it with positive
> anticipation, but would base no firm plans upon the finished product
> until it is released and I have had a chance to test it.

I have also signed up for the beta. This could be a very valuable tool for
both my clients and me. Then again, it might not. My point is that we have
nothing to look at yet, except for a marketing blurb. And until I can test
it, I can't say.

> I believe the plan for Flare is simply another sign that the entire
> documentation process is tending further toward XML solutions. Like it
> or not, that is where the field is heading--and, given the further
> introduction of tools that will make it increasingly easy to create,
> store, and manipulate XML files, I believe that it is better to begin
> this transition sooner rather than later.

Many tools have already incorporated some form of XML. RoboHelp X5 included
several XML outputs. Enterprise AuthorIT users can send and receive AIT XML
files for import. Quadralay will be making an announcement about their new
tool Atlas at the Annual STC Convention in several weeks...Atlas is
XML-based. There are probably others...

> I also believe that Microsoft will be moving to an XML-based help
> system, since they are embracing XML as a primary technology within
> their products. In fact, I would not be surprised to see some sort of
> XML help capability grafted onto Word at some point.

Microsoft has already announced this. They have created MAML (Microsoft
Assistance Markup Language), which is being used for Windows "Longhorn"
Help. I've presented sessions on both Longhorn Help and MAML at various
conferences. I believe Word already has some sort of XML capability, but I
haven't tested it...what I've heard is that "it's not quite there," but
someone with more knowledge about it would have to provide the answer :-)

Char James-Tanny ~ JTF Associates, Inc. ~
2005 Microsoft Help MVP ~ MSHelpWiki
AuthorIT Certified Consultant ~ AuthorIT Development and Training
RoboGURU: RoboHelp Consulting, Development, and Training
Moderator, HATT and MSHelp2
Web site Hosting and Design ~


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Re: MadCap - Flare: From: David Neeley

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