Friday, December 10, 2010

Madcap Flare - the unbind option in conditional tags

Madcap Flare, the Help authoring tool, allows you to "single-source" using conditional tags. You can show or hide paragraphs, images, glossaries, TOC entries, bookmarks, content files such as style sheets, page layouts, topics, and so on. I am not going to talk about the steps involved in producing multiple results from one source (for more information on conditional tags and how to display content selectively in outputs, see Madcap Flare's Web Help).

I just want to write about a Madcap Flare feature that I like - the unbind option in Conditional tags.

As Flare offers a bit of structured authoring, some similar style items are ordered (bound) together. At least this is the case with Lists, Drop-down text and Expandable texts. Flare does not restrict you if you insert a Heading 2 immediately after Heading 3 or such. However, within lists and drop down text Flare does not let you directly add a new style. If you press "Enter", after a bullet, you only get a bullet on the next line. So you need to copy a style and use the Paste before or Paste after option to insert a Heading 1 style between two bulleted items for example. Alternatively, you can use the unbind option to remove the style completely and make paragraphs after which you can apply the style you want.

Okay now back to conditional text and how the unbind option is useful here.

Let’s say you want to provide two outputs - Help topic for a. for new administrators who may need more information and b. administrators who know the product well. For the new administrators you want to provide a hyperlink to an installation procedure, whereas for the existing users you just need to display the text.

The text currently reads:

You want to display the same text without bullets and hyperlinks for existing users. To do that follow these steps:

1. Open a Flare topic and go to Projects > Conditions to define a conditional tag set.

2. Next create two tags in the tag set you have created - Existing and New.

3. Select the list or text or hyperlink or drop-down or image for which you want to apply conditions. Right-click and Select Conditions.
4. In the Condition Tags window, select Existing Admin Tag and in Exclude Action choose Unbind.

You have created a conditional tag set and created two tags. You have applied these to hyperlinks that you now want to apply to appear as text only to existing admins. Next you need to associate the conditional tags with a target. To do that

1. Go to Project Organizer > Targets.
2. Create two new targets - one for existing users and one for new users.

3. Double-click the target for existing users.
4. In the Target Editor, select a tag set and to exclude the applied tag from the output select Exclude.

5. Save your work. Build the outputs and view the results.

Note: In this case, the selected output will still be displayed without the hyperlinks as you have selected the Unbind option. So existing admins see the two hyperlinks as text. New users will see the links.

Similarly, you can unbind images from expand text, bulleted list, snippets, files, etc.

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