Evaluating Flare (was: Single Sourcing tools)

Subject: Evaluating Flare (was: Single Sourcing tools)
From: Frank Dissinger <dissinger -dot- cgs -at- gmx -dot- de>
To: TechWrite List <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 07 Sep 2007 13:53:29 +0200

Hi Christine,

I would be interested to see your Flare-AutorIT comparison.

I am looking for a suitable HAT. It should be able to produce
context-sensitive MS HTML Help. It should also allow me to create a
context sensitive help system for Mac OS and printed output (PDF), but
this is currently not so important. Easy translation and localization is
also an important issue.

I started comparing tools using the site http://hat-matrix.com/
<http://hat-matrix.com/>. I evaluated Help&Manual (too much limited for
me) and Flare and have just started to take a look at AuthorIT as an

What I like about Flare is that I have direct control over the XML
output via CSS styles and that it seems to have a very logical concept.
However, I have found several limitations and am therefore not sure
whether this is really the right tool for me.

Perhaps many of these limitations have to do with my personal point of
view: Until now I used FrameMaker 6.0 for single sourcing PDF files and,
via WebWorks Publisher 7.0, help file (CHM) output. For creating help
files only, I used HDK (many years ago) and later XDK (just for
converting a legacy project). (HDK and XDK seem to be "dead" now).

Perhaps you or other people on this list would like to answer some of my
questions about Flare?

1. From XDK I am used that the headings in the TOC and documents are
always kept in sync. When I change the heading in the TOC, the
document heading (<h1> tag) changes automatically and vice versa.
Flare does not do this and you always have to remember to make
your changes in two places.

Is this just how HATs work today? Or are there any HATs which keep
the headings in sync?

2. When I use variables in TOC entries (syntax:
[%=VariableSet.VariableName%]), the text that should be created by
these variables is missing in breadcrumb trails and MiniTOCs. Is
this a known bug or am I expecting too much?

The same occurs when I use variables in the subject line of e-mail
links, for example:
?subject=[%=Primary.ProductName%] [%=Primary.ProductVersion%]
Online Help ([%=System.ShortDate%]) - [%=System.Title%]

3. I would like to modify the MiniTOC proxy such that a heading with
the text "More details:" is created for every MiniTOC. This seems
to be impossible.

4. I would like to modify the Breadcrumbs proxy such that the name of
the current topic is not included. This seems to be impossible.

5. The system date variable is too inflexible. When I compile an
English help file on my German WinXP system, the system date
remains in the German format. I would first have to modify the
definition in the Windows Control Panel. Flare should modify the
format automatically depending on the language setting in the XML

6. When I have assigned CSS styles to a text, how can I remove them
using the Editor window?

I can remove style classes, but how would I, for example, break a
list, i.e, remove individual <li> tags and replace them with <p> tags?

7. I have created a class named "li.continue" with the definition
"list-style: none". When I select this style in a bulleted list,
it works fine in the HTML Help output. However, there is a bug in
Flare's Editor window. It displays a number (e.g. "3"), although
it should't display any list sign at all. This is extremely confusing.

8. It seems to be impossible to select multiple topics in the TOC and
delete them or drag them to another location. You can only do this
with a single topic. (It works in the Content Editor.)

9. Custom templates must be stored in a subfolder of "Documents and
Settings". I never store any files there. I'd like to have all
files in the project directory. You can browse for a template, but
this takes time.

Thank you!
Regards, Frank

Christine Leisgen wrote:
> Dear Darren,
> I just evaluated HATs for my new job. I used RoboHelp for 6 years in my
> old job. It was ok, but had problems with the Word export. You
> definitely had to manually tweak the output, especially insert manual
> pagebreaks. It might be better now (I used X4).
> I decided to use Flare. AuthorIt was second in the list. The main
> reasons were:
> * I like the user interface and plain, logical concept. Also, the design
> of the GUI is state-of-the-art and nice to look at :-)
> * Plain XML format, (hopefully) easy to exchange with translators. No
> need for expensive localization add-ons.
> I could send you a more detailed comparison of Flare and AuthorIt from
> my point of view, if you like.
> I now use Flare for about 4 weeks now. I already set up my first help
> and manual. It was relatively easy for me to set up the stylesheet
> (probably because I am used to CSS). The print output in Word seems very
> stable and the layout control, especially page breaks and tables, seems
> to be excellent. Flare support (local dealer in Germany) and response to
> bug reports is fast, friendly, and excellent, too.
> (I have absolutely no affiliation with Madcap, I am just a happy user.)
> Best regards, Christine
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Frank Dissinger · /Technical Writer/

CGS Publishing Technologies International GmbH
Kettelerstr. 24 · 63512 Hainburg · Germany

info -at- cgs -dot- de · http://www.cgs.de

Phone: +49 (0) 6182 9626 0
Fax: +49 (0) 6182 9626 99

Commercial Register: Offenbach, HRB no. 21495
CEO: Jan de Maeyer, Andreas Kämmerer


Create HTML or Microsoft Word content and convert to Help file formats or
printed documentation. Features include support for Windows Vista & 2007
Microsoft Office, team authoring, plus more.

True single source, conditional content, PDF export, modular help.
Help & Manual is the most powerful authoring tool for technical
documentation. Boost your productivity! http://www.helpandmanual.com

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Re: Single Sourcing tools: From: Christine Leisgen

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