Reorganizing Topics in the Content Explorer

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Reorganizing Topics in the Content Explorer

Postby Jbouvier on Wed Feb 25, 2015 2:50 pm

Hello,

I am trying to figure out how to reorganize my Topics within the Content Explorer, as I do not want them in alphabetical order. I tried to click and drag, but it's causing my folder to become a subfolder of another. I have been unable to locate any guidance in the user manual or online. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

First time user :D :capture:
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Re: Reorganizing Topics in the Content Explorer

Postby Nita Beck on Wed Feb 25, 2015 8:00 pm

Welcome to the forums! You are in friendly territory here.

The Content Explorer is always going to show the files within folders in alphanumeric order. There isn't a way to rearrange their order in the Content Explorer.

But what you might want to (and in my opinion, should) do is to organize your topics into subfolders. For example, in the Content\Topics folder, you might have subfolders based on topic types, so you might have folders for Tasks, Concepts, Reference, FAQs, and so forth. Or you might have subfolders based on product features, so you'd have folders such as FileMgnt, Addressing, Signaling, Reports, etc. (just making names up, here). Or you might have a different logical categorization of topics, such as FrontMtr, Preface, Ch01, Ch02, Ch03, ApxA, ApxB. Within each of these subfolders, the topic files will be arranged alphanumerically.

There is no one right folder structure for your topics. Just pick a scheme that makes sense and that will make it easy for you (and for the author who follows you someday) to find topics.
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Re: Reorganizing Topics in the Content Explorer

Postby ChoccieMuffin on Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:37 am

I completely agree with Nita's post, and that's what I do too, though I asked exactly the same question when I first started with Flare.

Your original post makes me wonder why you want to rearrange the topics non-alphabetically. You can think of the Content Explorer as just a container for your topics - until you generate an output, they're just in a big pot. If you want to put topics in some kind of order you need a TOC, which puts the topics in the order in which they will appear when you generate your output.

In my projects I try to use the same TOC for help and PDF, but I use conditions to mark topics that are only needed in online help, so when the TOC is used with a PDF target, the help-only topics are not included. (You don't HAVE to include a help-only topic in a TOC if you don't want to, but I find it useful to do so as I use breadcrumbs in my help, and if the topic isn't in a TOC then it doesn't have a breadcrumb trail.)
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Re: Reorganizing Topics in the Content Explorer

Postby Haz on Thu Feb 26, 2015 7:13 am

Actually I completely understand JBouvier's request. I've gone over to using numbers at the start of my file names to get them in what I consider to be a logical order. I guess you get used to alphabetized ordering if that's all you have, but when your TOC entry has a different title to your Content filename it's non-intuitive. The problem for me is that I want my topics in a certain order in the TOC but I then have to remember what I called them. I do use folders to break up larger projects, but if you're reusing efficiently each topic can be quite small. Not sure why Madcap want to force us into alphabet order as I'd be the first one to reorder logically if I could.
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Re: Reorganizing Topics in the Content Explorer

Postby Nita Beck on Thu Feb 26, 2015 7:46 am

@Haz, you raise some good points, but let me elaborate:

It is definitely a good objective for there to be a correlation between the human-readable heading of a topic and the topic's filename. For example, if I have a topic whose heading is "Managing Accounts," I'll name the filename something like "managing_accounts.htm" or "tsk_managing_accounts.htm" (where "tsk_ is a prefix announcing that the topic is a task/procedural topic). And of course, the TOC entry for said topic should correlate too; it should be something like "Managing Accounts" or "How to: Manage Accounts". For ease of authoring and maintenance, these different things should most definitely match.

But I don't think it's a good idea -- in the long term -- to have topics in the Content Explorer match their order in a TOC. What happens when you add a new target with a new TOC that arranges topics in a different way? If you've jimmied the filenames so that topics in the Content Explorer mimic their arrangement on the original TOC, you've now hampered yourself to be able to extend the Flare project to produce other targets with topics in alternative arrangements.

BTW, it's quite easy, from a TOC, to locate a topic in the Content Explorer. Right-click the TOC entry and select Locate in Explorer.

The original poster needs to understand that the Content Explorer is just that -- an explorer -- akin to the Windows Explorer. It is not a construct by which to arrange content into the order that the content will appear in a generated output. That's what a TOC does.
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Re: Reorganizing Topics in the Content Explorer

Postby Haz on Thu Feb 26, 2015 9:01 am

Thanks Nita. I see your point(s). I guess it's a newbie thing where we want to create our document structure in the Content Explorer rather than at the planning stage before project kickoff. I'll be a good document wrangler in future and use TOCs properly. :wink:
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Re: Reorganizing Topics in the Content Explorer

Postby Nita Beck on Thu Feb 26, 2015 9:05 am

@Haz. Wear your newbie moniker proudly! Every single one of us here was at some point a Flare newbie. Your expertise will accumulate gradually. Keep asking questions and keep reading the forums! (BTW, sorry that I haven't had time to address your question about using variables in output file names. Hopefully someone else will answer soon...)
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Re: Reorganizing Topics in the Content Explorer

Postby ChoccieMuffin on Thu Feb 26, 2015 11:14 am

@Haz, I also had that same desire but quickly got used to using folders to put things into some kind of order (one of my projects has nearly 2000 topics in it so folders are essential!) and keeping the names pretty similar. I did go through a stage of prefixing with numbers when doing a tutorial so all topics from Lesson 1 had 1_ in front but I quickly changed that when someone decided to add another lesson between 1 and 2, so I was stuffed, and just removed the numerical prefixes.

As for opening topics, I just double-click the topic in the TOC and there it is, open. If I don't want to actually open it, I hover the cursor over it and I get the path. Similarly if a topic is open and I want to know where it is, hover over the tab of the topic in the main work area and it shows the full path. You can also hover over a x-ref or hyperlink (either in the body of a topic or in the structure bar at the top) to see what topic is being referenced. So now I don't use the Content Explorer nearly as often as I used to.

And yes, keep asking questions. I wouldn't begin to say I'm an expert but I have learned so much from these forums, and nobody has ever told me I've asked a stupid question.
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Re: Reorganizing Topics in the Content Explorer

Postby wclass on Thu Feb 26, 2015 2:12 pm

I'll add to Nita's and Choccie's comments by saying as well as the TOCs, the File List (View tab > File List) is also very handy to manage files. It even lets you change the sort order by clicking the column heading - I often switch from file name order, to date modified order, to folder/path order, and so on.
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Re: Reorganizing Topics in the Content Explorer

Postby ChoccieMuffin on Fri Feb 27, 2015 5:28 am

wclass wrote:I'll add to Nita's and Choccie's comments by saying as well as the TOCs, the File List (View tab > File List) is also very handy to manage files. It even lets you change the sort order by clicking the column heading - I often switch from file name order, to date modified order, to folder/path order, and so on.


I never realised that! Thanks, Margaret!
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Re: Reorganizing Topics in the Content Explorer

Postby Jbouvier on Mon Mar 02, 2015 2:36 pm

Hi guys,

Sorry for the delayed response, but thanks so much for all the posts. I had recently been working in RoboHelp recreating an online user manual (which had originally been created in RoboHelp, but I don't have access to the original file - but I do have access to the last version of the output). I am new to using these types of programs, so I was trying to stick to the same organization logic for the online manual. In RoboHelp, the folders located in Project Manager (which is similar to MapCaps Content Explorer) were in logical order for a user manual (Welcome, Introduction, Before You Begin, etc.). Then within each of these folders were pages which reflected the actual content for each section. I was just puzzled when I wasn't able to do the same thing in MapCaps. Any suggestions/ideas? :?

Thanks again!

JB :mrgreen:
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Re: Reorganizing Topics in the Content Explorer

Postby Nita Beck on Mon Mar 02, 2015 5:25 pm

There is nothing about Flare stopping you from arranging your topics into folders that you name however you want. So in the Topics folder, you can most certainly have folders named Welcome, Introduction, Before_Your_Begin (please note that, for folder names, I recommend that you NOT have spaces) into which you can drag the topics. Be sure to do this all within Flare, not in Windows Explorer, so that Flare will prompt you, with each move, to update links that might be present in other topics TO the topic you're moving. Otherwise, if you moved files around outside of Flare, in Windows Explorer, you will end up with lots of broken links.

If you want to move many topics at the same time, you can use the Show FIles button on the toolbar of the Content Explorer to split the explorer into two panes. In the right pane, you can then select multiple topics at the same time to move into a folder.

Please note, however, that within any folder of topics in the Content Explorer, those topics will be alphanumerically listed. As someone pointed out above, you should get familiar with the FIle List too, which you can sort however you like.
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Re: Reorganizing Topics in the Content Explorer

Postby Jbouvier on Tue Mar 03, 2015 11:09 am

Great, thanks! :D
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Re: Reorganizing Topics in the Content Explorer

Postby KCinColorado on Mon Sep 12, 2016 12:25 pm

In Flare 12, there seems to be a way to affect the order of entries in the Content Explorer because I keep doing it by accident (!) and can't figure out how to restore the A-Z order afterwards! For example, today I was renaming a topic file in the Content Explorer. I clicked on it a couple times to edit, then I think I tried to RE-edit the name and all of a sudden, the order of the entire pane changed. So it's something to do with mouse clicks but I have no idea what I did.(I have a very sensitive Evoluent mouse.)

My files are named like this:

Project_archive.htm
Project_backup.htm
and so on...

Then I have a series of window-level topics in the same folder, named like this:
ProjectGUI_archive.htm
ProjectGUI_backup.htm

When they get "spontaneously" rearranged, all the ProjectGUI files precede the Project_ files and show up at the top (still in ascending, alphabetical order); all the Project_ topics follow. By default, the Project_ files precede the ProjectGUI_ files.

Any ideas on how this happens and how to restore the standard, alphabetical order? If I exit the project and reopen it, the original (default) sort order is restored.
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Re: Reorganizing Topics in the Content Explorer

Postby SteveS on Mon Sep 12, 2016 3:29 pm

Have you changed the way files are ordered in Window's file explorer? I think Flare uses this by default...
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