writing user help – Madcap Flare

January 27, 2011

Flare is a single-source content authoring and publishing application.  I have used it quite a bit in the last two years to create the help documentation and online support for my current assignment.

What Flare seems to do best is allow you to publish different views of the same document for various users.  For example, my current application has three user levels; basic, intermediate and admin.  I can write the help for a particular web-page and annotate it with ‘admin only’ tags to hide specific sections from the other user types.

It’s mostly simple to use.  The authoring interface is a lot like Microsoft Word.  It talks directly to Team System’s configuration management, so keeping the help up-to-date in source control is trivial, once set up.  I have used it to publish my help files to the web, to MS Word and to PDF format.