Best-practice for product data

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Best-practice for product data

Postby Anders on Thu Feb 02, 2017 3:35 am

I'm sure most of you have some type of product data (such as weight, height, throughput) that you need to include in various places in your documentation. How do you handle this in Flare?

We have a handful of data, that differs from one product to the next. And we use them in different outputs. For example weight for Product A and Product B, occur frequently in the User Guide and Service Manual for each product respectively.

My original idea was use variables. The problem is that I can't apply conditions to variables. What I can do is add multiple definitions, but then I must make sure that I choose the correct definition for each variable in each target. And in my experience, if you must set the same thing in more than one place, you will get it wrong.

I also considered to create one variable set for each product. But since they must have different names, I must then include both variables (ProdA.weight and ProdB.weight) every time I refer to them in a topic.

What I would like to do, is apply conditions to variable definitions. But that doesn't seem to be possible.
Last edited by Anders on Thu Feb 02, 2017 5:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Best-practice for product data

Postby Nita Beck on Thu Feb 02, 2017 5:10 am

Hi Anders. Welcome to the forums! :)

That said, kindly forgive my confusion. I don't understand your use of the verb "profile" as in "profile (the) variable definitions."

If you have a Product A target and a Product B target, you can set the definition of the Prod.Weight variable differently for each target. You don't need to edit the definition in the variable set itself. Rather, in the Target Editor, you can edit the definition of Prod.Weight on the Variables tab.

As of Flare 12 or 2017 (sorry, I forget which), it is also possible set variables at a spot "lower" than a target, I *think* (need to verify this) at the topic level, so if you have a topic in an output that needs to show both Product A's weight and Product B's weight, you can enter the variable twice and set its definition for each instance.

Have I misunderstood your question?
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Re: Best-practice for product data

Postby Dave Lee on Thu Feb 02, 2017 5:22 am

I'd just set up variable definitions, and set the variable in the target (which you've already discovered).
If you're worried about making mistakes, perhaps make the default definition something like "CHANGE THIS!".

I don't understand what you mean by "profile". Do you mean link a variable definition to a particular target (or condition)?
If so, I'm pretty sure that's not possible.

The other alternative is to use snippets - e.g. include all variations of a term in a snippet, and mark each term with a condition.
Then you can set conditions at the target or snippet level. I'm not sure that's a better solution though.
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Re: Best-practice for product data

Postby Anders on Fri Feb 03, 2017 12:51 am

I'm sorry for causing some confusion. After years of using Arbortext, I mixed up the terminology. I meant conditions, not profiles. I edited my post and I hope it makes more sense now. :)

What I meant to say is that I would like to set conditions for each variable definition (I attached a mock-up, trying to explain what I meant). However, I'm fairly sure this is not possible. Maybe I should post it as a feature request?

Setting the variable definition in the target is what I do today. The only problem is that each product have more than one target (each product comes with a handful of documentation) and I'm not organized enough to get all of them right all the time. I rely on advanced software to do the tricky parts of my job. ;)

Using snippets should do the trick though. It might not be as elegant as the variables, but it should do the job and do it well. Thank you for that suggestion!
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Re: Best-practice for product data

Postby ajturnersurrey on Fri Feb 03, 2017 4:33 am

Not sure it is best practice, but it is my practice to set up snippets Weight_ProductA, Weight_ProductB, Weight_allBASICSProducts etc... I have a set of conditions Not_ProductA, NotProductB etc... so that I can use these conditions in my targets to determine which weight is used in a particular topic.

This works nicely with having multiple linked projects, so that a correction to a Weight in one place will ripple out to affect the next build of all the documents that use it.
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Re: Best-practice for product data

Postby Dave Lee on Fri Feb 03, 2017 5:41 am

Which is the best approach depends how you plan to use the terms, and how many alternative definitions you might have.

Using variable definitions is quite simple, but less flexible since you can only use one definition per target.
Using snippets with conditions is much more flexible, but also potentially more difficult to manage.

Say I want a term with 5 definitions for 5 separate outputs. Then I want to add a 6th definition for a new output.
- If I set these up as variable definitions, I can just add a 6th variable definition, and then select that in the target's variable tab.
- If I set these up as snippets, then I need to add a new condition, update the snippet with the new term, and I also need to edit all 5 of my previous targets to exclude the new condition.


We use a snippet and condition approach in our projects, but just make sure you plan it carefully, or you can end up with condition hell.
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Re: Best-practice for product data

Postby StraygoatWriting on Sun Feb 05, 2017 10:25 am

Yes, I agree with Dave's post. If it is getting too messy with variables, use snippets instead. I find snippets are far more versatile.
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