MadCap Flare Workshop: Guest contributor Peter Russell

TCANZ does it again with a high-value, highly affordable workshop—this time on MadCap Flare 10.

I’ve been aware for a long time of single-source publishing—write once, publish many times etc—but the actual nuts and bolts have avoided me ‘til now. But the needs of my current role and the software and cloud services on offer are now converging. A number of products are available—Author-it and WebWorks Publisher are the two listed on the TCANZ website, but there are also MadCap Flare, Help & Manual, Doc-To-Help and many others.

So, on a beautiful Christchurch autumn day in May, it was good to learn from Emily Cotlier, our Flare expert, conjuring its magic and showing us that we can do it too. Flare offers topic-based authoring and importing, and single source to 15+ print, online and tablet/mobile formats. You don’t need to be good at XML and CSS—good news for some of us! But it helps if you are, which is good news for the rest of us! The day’s exercises showed us what could be done in Flare, and how to get started. Practice surely makes perfect, and Flare offers a lot of online help, but having an expert on hand adds that extra bit of reassurance.

Technical communicators are aware of the obvious merits of using a tool such as Flare in a myriad of situations, as do some of their managers. It can be a valuable addition to the tech com’s armoury. This workshop highlighted the benefits that we need to keep in front of ourselves and our influencers, and our need to demonstrate how they can help in achieving their goals and ours. This is particularly so in some larger organisations, where IT systems are tightly configured, and introducing specialised tools can be difficult.

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