So it is the time of year that all technical authors have been waiting for. MadCap have released a new version of Flare, number 11. I have to admit that this year I read the new features and I wasn’t exactly over the moon. However, once I got going with the trial I started to really appreciate Flare 11. Here are my highlights:
Improved video support
I come to Flare from an e-Learning perspective. Meaning I am video-centric. Adding videos into Flare in the last couple of years hasn’t been fun, but MadCap have finally added YouTube and Vimeo support!
This means that you don’t have to think about what format your video is in, or if the server you are uploading to is optimized for video streaming. You can just stick it on either YouTube or Vimeo and embed it. Ah, happiness.
They have also added Universal 3D support which is pretty cool. Having the ability to easily import a 3D object that a user can manipulate will certainly have its uses.
New layout – TopNav
I feel that this might be a feature that will split opinion. I am guessing the more old school members of the technical authoring community will shudder at the thought of online help that doesn’t have a table of contents on the left hand side. But I am actually very happy about this. With the changes that have happened in website design in the last few years I have found the classic online help layout outdated and boring.
But not anymore. Flare 11 has moved away from this classic template to a modern one. Each page has a simple menu and search at the top leaving the rest of the page empty for your content. I am not sure how this has taken so long to come about.
For those of you who feel that the world might end without your ToC, have no fear. The new layout also allows you to add smaller skin components to a page. So you can have menus, search bars or toolbars anywhere in the output. You can even make these menus context sensitive.
The set up for this TopNav was pretty simple. I had it up and running in no time at all and making changes to colours and fonts was also quick.
This is one of the smaller changes but I think it is one of the best thought out. You can now pin styles and projects to the top of the list. So you don’t have to spend the entire day scrolling to find your favourites. As I said, not a massive change but it is certainly one that I will be using a lot.
This is another sensible addition, you can now continue working on your project while you build your project. This all happens in a shiny new window pane called the builds window. Here you can view your build progress.
The window comes with handy notifications about version control so that you know that you have generated the latest changes.
And there you have it. My highlights of MadCap Flare 11. I haven’t really had the chance to get to know the new macro settings nor the ‘improved search’ facilities, but I am sure I will in the coming months. You can see a full set of new features on the MadCap website.
Disagree with my highlights? Share your favourite features in the comment area below.
For those of you who are UK based, we now offer Flare 11 training.