Saturday, January 23, 2010

Working with Conditional Text

Let’s say that you have a single document that you want to use to generate a PDF document for print and to create online Help. Although several software products claim this ability, only MadCap Flare 5 currently makes good on its claim, without rework.

Using conditional text allows you to create some information for the PDF document and for the online Help without having to have two versions of the starting document.

The concept of how to use conditional text sometimes confuses even the smartest of people. Here is a very simple explanation to help you. Think of conditional text (or graphics) as being a two-step process. Using this example of creating a PDF file and online Help, your first step would be to create two conditions: Print and Online. In Flare, you would simply label the parts of your original document that you wanted to be used in just Print or Online with these conditions. The parts that would be used in both the Print and Online versions would not have any conditions.

When you were ready to create the PDF and Help files, your second step would be to tell Flare what to do with the text or graphics labeled with these conditions. For example, you would tell Flare to exclude text marked with the Print condition from the online Help it will generate. Likewise, you would tell Flare to exclude text marked as Online from the PDF file it will generate.

That’s it. Creating your information once and using it in different ways is a much more efficient way to work. Have fun using conditional text.