Mr. Procedure’s Mad Cap Adventure–My Developer’s Christmas List

So far, so good…I have downloaded the Flare product onto my work computer and my home computer (the license permits two downloads as long as they are not on the same domain, meaning, I guess, two people in the same company cannot download it).

From there, I immersed myself in their “getting started” tutorials, which did a decent job of telling me what’s what on the computer but giving me no insight into what the features do. Maybe they are expecting that their typical buyer has worked in FrameMaker or Robo-whatever, and they know what these things are and just need to see where they’re located in Flare. They did not help me.

So I thought about it, and I decided I had better determine for myself what it is I exactly want to do. Certainly I will wanrt to do a lot more than I need to do now, but today I need to support my organization’s equipment manuals, which are delivered as printed books and as a .pdf on disc.

So here is my “Christmas List,” since the holidays are fast approaching.

1. I want to be able to store screen images of software screens, and drop them into any manuals that need them.

The software used on the systems my company produces is repeated a lot from system to system, and often they are not changed. When that occurs, I want to have a screen shot to simply add to the manual document I am developing.

2. I want to be able to create single descriptions of components and drop them into any manuals that need them.

Many of the components are similar from unit to unit. I would like to have a description that I can put into any manual, and also be able to edit (expand or contract) descriptions as factors change (or I learn more about them) and place within a document.

3. I want to be able to assemble all manual elements in sections that are easy to access, review and put in a final manual.

4. I want to be able to send a small portion of the manual to an engineer for individual review.

This is important because we have several engineers who focus on different elements, and I don’t want to have to send them the whole manual. Also, when I get one piece of the document approved, I can set it aside permanently until I put the whole together.

5. I want the whole manual to come together in a style consistent with what we have been previously developing, without any issues (huge gaps of white space, paragraphs spilling from page to page, graphics and photos being cut off).

This would be the greatest benefit for me. When I have to make even a slight change to a document in Word, I have to sometimes do a large amount of rearranging (moving pictures around, shortening paragraphs, etc.). A small change can easily consume an hour or more reformatting everything.

That in a nutshell is all I ask. Am I asking too much? I am about to dive headlong into the software and see what I can make it do.  I just hope I can get the wrapping off the present for now!

About Tim James "Mr. Procedure"

A communicator; all-purpose capability in writing, designing and presenting training for all facets of organizational function. While my focus has been manufacturing, my training/development experience includes supervisory and lead person development, audit processes, continuous improvement and Lean, and Quality Management System implementation.
This entry was posted in Authoring Software, Continuous improvement, Instructional Communication, Procedures, Training, Training Program Development and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Mr. Procedure’s Mad Cap Adventure–My Developer’s Christmas List

  1. Julie says:

    For wish number 2, why don’t you use snippets?
    For number 4, you could create review TOCs on an ad-hoc basis and generate word documents for your engineers. Or maybe look into using Contributor (not tried it myself).

  2. lisa says:

    You can do all. Have a folder called images, place your pictures in there give them meaningful names then you can drag them in to yos. Agree about the snippets its the easiest and you will need contributor to do a review. They also have a forum which is pretty good for help etc. Enjoy flare whilst it has a lot of good features personally I find robohelp has far less bugs.

  3. Brian Dunkin says:

    ..and have look at Help&Manual. It does all those things the others mentioned. I found it much more intuitive to use then either Flare or RoboHelp and much cheaper.

    • Hi Brian–always happy to get suggestions. In this case, Flare is what I was provided by my present company, so that is the one I will learn. Maybe sometime when I have both unlimited time and funds, I will look into alternate tools.

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