General Document Structure Help

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General Document Structure Help

Postby Fogmaker11 on Fri May 19, 2017 5:44 am


I am a new Flare user. I have been working with it on and off for a few months now, and I created one pretty decent manual that I am happy with, but I am still very much a novice. Probably the most difficult part is trying to breakaway from my MS Word tendencies.

I work for a company that manufactures Fire suppression equipment. I am planning on re-vamping all of our documentation with flare. I am not going to try to import old manuals (because I know we can do much better), just start new. What I am trying to figure out is the best way to structure my documents in Flare. I want to create 11 different categories of Documents as follows:

Installation Manuals (print and web)
-General Install Manual
-Vehicle Specific Install Manual
-Industry specific Install manual

Parts Manuals (print and web)
-General Parts Manual
-Industry Specific Parts Manual

Service Manuals (print and web)
-General Service Manual
-Vehicle Specific
-Industry Specific

Repair Manuals (print and web)
-General Repair Manual

Training Manuals (print and web)
-General Training
-Distributor Training

Owners Manuals (print and web)
-Vehicle Specific

Certificates (print)
-Training cert
-Inspection Cert

Forms (print and web)
-Risk Assessment
-Install Checklist
-System Reset Checklist
-Inspection Checklist

Sales/Specs/Legal (print)
-General Spec

Internal Process (print)
-Order processing
-production processes

Now, there is ALOT of content that is shared between many of these, for example a snippet that shows how to install a very common part. There is also ALOT of content that is specific to each manual, for example a vehicle specific installation manual that has pictures of an install that are only for that one specific vehicle. I want each of the categories to share the same style sheet, so that colors and fonts are all the same and can be changes in one spot, but the structure of the documents will be different, for example the structure of an installation manual will be much different than a form.

All that said, i am trying to figure out if I should set everything up with a Global Project, which contains templates for each of the 11 categories, stylesheet and common content? Or Should each category be its own project linked to a global project that contains the stylesheet and common content? Or should each category be its own project and just use external resources for common content (although I don't think I could have a single stylesheet using this method).

Below is a picture is some brainstorming I did. I am a VERY visual person, so I kind of need to see it drawn out.
doc structure-01.jpg

I would like to figure this structure out before I dive too much deeper into creating content. I appreciate any and all suggestions, comments and criticism! Thank you in advance!
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Re: General Document Structure Help

Postby ChoccieMuffin on Fri May 19, 2017 8:10 am

Other than your commonly used stuff such as stylesheet, copyright text, legal notices etc, how much other common content is there between your various sets of documents? If your Service Manuals and Repair Manuals, for example, have a lot of shared content then it might make sense to have them in the same project. If your Internal Process documents have absolutely nothing to do with them, then it seems fine to have them in a separate project.

Different people do things differently, so I'll share what I do. Not saying this is THE BEST way to do it, just ONE way, which works for us.

I have a Globals project which contains assorted stuff:
Content folder: all page layouts and master pages, the single stylesheet that we use for everything (we only have HTML help and PDF outputs so that's ok), central table stylesheets as well,
Project folder: a central condition tag set (each individual project can have its own local condition tag sets if necessary), reports, TOCs that are nested into the projects (Front pages, Getting Help, Index, TOC) and a global variable set (again each project has its own local variable set)

Each individual project has a .flimpfl import file that imports all the stuff from the Globals project.

Individual projects can be an entire product or a module of a product.
Simple projects just import from globals and build their PDF and help targets. These represent smaller products or modules for larger products.
Larger, more complex projects, import from globals and also import from some of the simple projects, so one module may produce its own documentation and also be included in two or more larger projects.

In short though, you need to look at where the reuse can happen and it will depend on your own company's materials.

Good luck!
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