Flare: Ignore Publish

If you have access to the server where your project will be available to users, I recommend not using the Publish option to upload. Its FTP process is slow and sensitive to server delays.

Instead, use either your own FTP software or, better still, zip up the Output/user-name folder and copy that to the server, before unzipping it there. It’s much faster and far more reliable.

Adding a Bottom Border to Sticky Header in Flare

I needed to add a bottom border to a sticky header. There’s no way I could do this through the Skins section. Perusing the generated code revealed nav.title-header was the style used, but it was not accessible via the internal or external editors for any of the stylesheets. However, it can be done manually.

Add this line of code to the main stylesheet which is named MainStyles.css or Styles.css located in the Resources > Stylesheets menu.

Right-click the stylesheet. Select Open with > Internal Text Editor. Insert:

nav.title-bar
{
border-bottom: 2px solid #127fc2;
}

This will add a 2 pixel solid border with color rgb(18, 127, 194).  Change as needed.

 

Extend Footer Width in Flare

I don’t need footer-links or footer-icons, just the copyright text to extend to the width of the page, but I couldn’t find a way to achieve this. Support came to the rescue.

Open the StylesForHomePage.css in the internal text editor and change the width from 25% to 100% for “div.HomeMasterPageFooter > div:nth-child(1)”.

Simple when you know how.

Apply Hamburger Menu Icon to Desktop

My client wanted the hamburger icon to be used for all output types (desktop, tablet, mobile) and not just mobile, where it’s the default.

The only way to get this to happen was to set the tablet breakpoint to a larger screen width. To achieve this, In the Project Organiser panel, select Targets, the output type (e.g. HTML5 – Top Navigation Primary) and the Skin tab from the menu. Change the tablet breakpoint to 5000 as shown:

Et voilà:

Initial Experience

I’ve been using Madcap Flare for the past year or so and even now I feel I still have a way to go before I can claim to be proficient in its use. Fortunately, my client not only paid for the licence, but also forked out for Bronze maintenance. When you consider that this level of support is the lowest offered and costs US$500 each year, I’m glad I didn’t have to pay for it. On the other hand, it has been responsive and very helpful.

Using Flare, I’ve created a large online help system for users of a general insurance broking application.

I’ve been impressed by the power of Flare. It’s well worth spending the time needed to come up to speed.

Unusual Design

At first glance, the user interface (UI) is challenging. Fortunately, there are guides to explain its use. As with most UIs, the average user sticks to a limited subset of the available functions. I have both the Content and Project menus open. These are detachable and I place them them on a separate monitor.

Output Types

Flare works on the principle of “write once, publish anywhere”.

You use a process called “conditioning” to tailor the text to suit an output format instead of having different copies of the same text for different outputs.

The HTML5 output is responsive to the medium on which it is shown (desktop, tablet, and mobile).

Pricing

Madcap offers a perpetual licence for US$1,448.00 (includes 12 months of Bronze maintenance). Renewing Bronze maintenance is US$500.

Scrivener

Over the years I’ve tested various writing programs to find an improvement over Microsoft Word for managing the development of a novel. They’ve included Grammatica, New Novelist, Story Weaver, yWriter5, and others I’ve forgotten the names of.

None appealed to me.Scrivener logo

I had two particular requirements: the ability to export to Word; and a means of locating all scenes in which a character appeared.

When Scrivener for Windows first appeared, I gave it a shot, but it seemed rough around the edges, falling short of the Mac version’s capabilities. It joined the others as not being up to the task.

Later on, I read an article which was not only complimentary of the latest version of Scrivener, but also mentioned the two features I was looking for. I decided to give it another go. I’m pleased I did.

If you’ve not tried it, you might be interested in these reviews:

Jacqueline Ward is a big fan

Maxi Bransdale’s a fan, too

Write Your Own Happy Ending

9 Reasons I’ve Decided to Use Scrivener to Write My Nonfiction Books

Lit Reactor’s Review

 

WordWeb Pro

Word Web Pro is a program I’ve used for as long as I can remember. It’s a combined dictionary and thesaurus and sits in my system tray, ready for any query I might throw at it. However, it’s real strength is its ability, when I highlight a word and click the system tray icon, to pop up a definition and a list of synonyms. For a writer, that’s invaluable. The basic version is free. I have the Pro Bundle version and for A$129 I get audio pronunciations, many other dictionaries (e.g. Oxford, Cambridge), and geographical names.

Editing and Proofreading Software

I use two programs for checking my writing after I’ve carried out visual proofreading. They are PerfectIt and SmartEdit. They do similar jobs, but are different in application. For example, PerfectIt is better for technical material, while SmartEdit is geared towards fiction.

PerfectIt is a Microsoft Word add-in. It works well with documents that require consistent abbreviations, acronyms, hyphenations, capitalisation, spellings, compound words, and so on.

The Standard version appears no longer to be offered. The Professional version is US$99. The licensed user can install the software on three computers as long as the licensee is the primary user of each system.

SmartEdit is a standalone editor that checks for adverb usage, clichés, repeated words and phrases, dialogue tags, and a host of other things that fiction writers should be aware of. It will check Microsoft Word, OpenOffice, RTF, and text documents.

It costs US$67 for the standalone version and can be used for up to three PCs for the licensed user. The integrated Word version is $77. The two can be bought in combination for US$109.