How to manage projects for multiple software versions?

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How to manage projects for multiple software versions?

Postby pjtwriter on Tue Oct 10, 2017 8:30 am

I'm new to MadCap Flare and have inherited a well-organized project. I write User Guides for a software product. I'm wondering how to handle versioning, as our product development cycle has two major software releases per year. I've seen some comments about parent-child projects, although I have to do some more reading on this to see what that type of organization means.
Specifically, I have the following basic questions:
1) Is there a way to clone a project for our next product release?
2) Does it make sense to clone a project or is there a better way to maintain two or more versions of our product documentation?

Thanks for tolerating my basic questions. I've been reading the manuals, watching videos, and searching the message boards, but haven't found anything that quite matches my needs.
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Re: How to manage projects for multiple software versions?

Postby SteveS on Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:09 pm

Welcome to the forums! :D

How much content gets changed with each release? Is it complete topics, or just blocks of text? Are images changed? You say the content has been well maintained, how were updates treated in the past?

Not knowing these things it's hard to come up with an ideal approach.

I would lean towards keeping versioning within the same project, so when you access the project you have a history of previous releases. You can use conditioning to show or hide content based on a version (you might need to create 2 conditions for each version, one for include, one for exclude, or you can just create an include and exclude for the current version). If you create a new topic for your versioning I'd be more inclined to go down the path of a new MasterTOC for each version.

One method of cloning a project is to use the Export Project Wizard, on the Project tab (click export project to start the wizard). If you wish to use a new project you can also use an existing project as a start point in the start new project wizard.

If you use source control you can just update each topic with new content and use source control for handling the versioning.

Hope this gives you food fo thought.
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Re: How to manage projects for multiple software versions?

Postby pjtwriter on Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:33 pm

Thanks for the speedy response. This is excellent food for thought and I'm going to look further into conditions. Since I'm new to the company, I'm not certain how much content will require updates, although I know that the UI is getting a face lift, so all the screen shots (and there are many) will need to be replaced. Unfortunately, we don't use source control for documentation, although it's on my list of proposed projects.
This is the first time that I (the sole writer) have to consider maintaining multiple versions because Flare was only introduced for the previous product release. Prior to that, everything was done in Word (yikes!). I'm glad I joined the company after the transition to Flare. I came from a FrameMaker shop and I'm finding Flare to be a joy.
I may use the Export Project feature to create a backup before I do anything too drastic.
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Re: How to manage projects for multiple software versions?

Postby paintedturtle on Wed Oct 11, 2017 9:03 am

pjtwriter wrote:I may use the Export Project feature to create a backup before I do anything too drastic.


You can zip the entire project in a few clicks on the Flare UI: Project > Zip Project > Zip Project. It saves it in a PDF in about 5 minutes. I do this daily as a backup because I'm paranoid. :D
Technical Writer using and experimenting with Flare version 12.0.5991.
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Re: How to manage projects for multiple software versions?

Postby SteveS on Wed Oct 11, 2017 2:56 pm

pjtwriter wrote:Thanks for the speedy response...

The joys of being on the other side of the world :shock:
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