Re: Flat files in Flare, vs. DITA in CCMS

Subject: Re: Flat files in Flare, vs. DITA in CCMS
From: Robert Lauriston <robert -at- lauriston -dot- com>
To: "Janoff, Steven" <Steven -dot- Janoff -at- hologic -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 26 Sep 2014 17:33:09 -0700

Flare is fundamentally similar to RoboHelp HTML, which is intentional,
since Flare was conceived as an upgrade path for RoboHelp users.
Macromedia bought eHelp to get RoboDemo, put RoboHelp on the shelf,
and laid off most or all of the RoboHelp developers, some of whom
started MadCap. Adobe later bought Macromedia and brought RoboHelp
back from the dead. RoboDemo became Captivate.

Flare topic source is XHTML, which is just a strict subset of HTML.
Topics are organized by TOCs, which Flare's text processing system
transforms into PDF or web help or whatever, with transforms specified
by CSS and various options in the "target" definitions.

On Fri, Sep 26, 2014 at 4:59 PM, Janoff, Steven
<Steven -dot- Janoff -at- hologic -dot- com> wrote:
> Thanks, Robert, this is good. Let me think about that. I think the two aspects you distinguish are both important (the database part and the unstructured part).
>
> Steve
>
> On Friday, September 26, 2014 4:24 PM, Robert Lauriston wrote:
>
> When they say, "A Flat File structure â There is no hidden database,"
> they don't mean a structure of flat files, they mean a flat structure of files, that is, topics are just a pool of files in a directory.
> That is the definition in this context.
>
> When they say the benefit of that is "Flare projects can be stored locally on your PC or they can be stored on a network drive without fear of database corruption that plagues tools with older architectures," they're talking about RoboHelp, which indeed has a hidden database.
>
> Flare topic files are XHTML. They're unstructured in the DITA sense.
>
> On Fri, Sep 26, 2014 at 2:51 PM, Janoff, Steven <Steven -dot- Janoff -at- hologic -dot- com> wrote:
>> Hi,
>>
>> Greetings from the new gig. One month in. (Great place, great
>> opportunity.)
>>
>> I'm trying to get my mind around the difference between what MadCap likes to refer to as the "flat file" nature of information in Flare, vs. the structured information in DITA/XML files housed in a component content management system (CCMS). If I've got that right.
>>
>> There seem to be several definitions of "flat file" and the one I'm
>> after has to do with the data in the file not being, if I understand
>> this right, hierarchical or structured, within the file. This
>> contrasts with DITA, where a DITA/XML file has a very hierarchical
>> structure based on the DITA spec. (Certain rules about what elements
>> can go in what kind of topic and in what order, what subelements they
>> can have, what attributes each of those elements in the topic can
>> have, etc.)
>>
>> The definitions of "flat file" I'm *not* talking about are first, the one where all files are stored in a single directory, and second, a "flat file system" or structure within a database, which has to do with a lack of relationship between tables (that's as far as I'm going to guess with that one).
>>
>> So again, as far as I can get with this, I think we're talking about
>> the data in a Flare file is not really tagged according to any
>> hierarchical standard. (Well, maybe it's XML or XHTML, and I believe
>> it can also import DITA, but I'm talking about versus true DITA
>> functionality.)
>>
>> So how would you describe the difference between what makes a file "flat" and what would make the same file "non-flat" or structured if they're the same thing?
>>
>> Thanks for any help you can provide in clarifying this. What I'm really getting at is the difference between HATs like Flare, and full-blown DITA-based CCMS's -- but from the standpoint of the content (topics).
>>
>> Steve
>

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Follow-Ups:

References:
Flat files in Flare, vs. DITA in CCMS: From: Janoff, Steven
Re: Flat files in Flare, vs. DITA in CCMS: From: Robert Lauriston
RE: Flat files in Flare, vs. DITA in CCMS: From: Janoff, Steven

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