Best Approach to Templating

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Best Approach to Templating

Postby DoTheWriteThing on Tue Jul 10, 2018 3:17 am

I'm trying to set up a company template for technical documentation, it has to be easy to use. I want this to be easy to use for other writers who are not very familiar with Flare. What is the best way to do this - should I create a new project, and then import the template? This copies all the Content files but doesn't import targets, skins and tocs. Or should I create a new project based on an existing one? This copies everything but if the Template is updated, as there is no linking, the project does not reflect this.
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Re: Best Approach to Templating

Postby Scotty on Thu Jul 19, 2018 3:55 am

You should think carefully first about what constitutes needing a new Project (each new doc? each new doc within some defined subset, such as for Product A, or for Requirements Specs, or...?). Also, what kind of outputs? Does everything need to be output to the same place, such as a web output? Will you be using Flare's publish-to capabilities? What about source control? Does everyone have access to the same network drives, or source control such as SVN?

Template-wise, I have a Global project that contains all static items needed for all outputs (branding images, stylesheets, page layouts, etc), and a template project that links to all those items in the Global project. I copy and paste the template project rather than relying on Flare's Create New From Existing. The template project can contains all necessary template, from which users can select and use. Again though, how often new projects are created is a decision that rests on up front planning mentioned in my first paragraph. Perhaps you only need say three projects (which you can set up yourself), and users merely go into these projects to add new content using the templates contained therein. This of course requires close source control, so again, up front planning is needed.
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Re: Best Approach to Templating

Postby bunnycat on Thu Aug 02, 2018 3:56 am

I approach templates like this - it's been decently successful, although a little work for each writer in terms of training and getting Flare set up initially to use them

I rely heavily on templates so that I get a consistent set of web and print outputs across product lines.

    I create a SharedFiles project - this project contains all the common files that would be used across all output types: common branding images, images for help controls, masterpages, pagelayouts, javascript files, stylesheets, legalese snippets (copyrights, trademark, legal statements, et al), conditions, skins, variables. I give these files all a very recognizable prefix (ex. _EX_filename.css) so that it makes it easy to set up global import files to import the bits needed for new/existing projects.
    I create output-specific templates (one for PDFs, one for Tripane Help, one for TopNav help, one for Release Notes) that contain all the basic topic files and other customizable files (base TOCs, Targets, customizable variables files) that writers can use as the building blocks for New projects. This allows a writer to select New > from Template and select the right output template for the deliverable they need to create.
I also set up a library of Import files as well (based on the output type), so that when a New project gets created, writer just runs the included Import file which pulls in all the Shared files from the first bullet item above. For example: An import file specifically defined with every file a writer would need for a PDF - so they don't get extraneous files from say, the Tripane help.

Hope that helps a bit!

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Re: Best Approach to Templating

Postby bunnycat on Thu Aug 02, 2018 4:05 am

Removed the text of a double post - sorry about that. My browser hiccuped.
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