Multiple Product Outputs

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Multiple Product Outputs

Postby Arpita_17 on Thu Oct 11, 2018 10:57 pm

Hi All,

I am trying to figure out if there's a way to have one project producing multiple PDF outputs with differing header and the front page.

I will explain myself further with the following example:
Suppose there company A, which has 3 products – Product 1, Product 2 and Product 3. All these three products have their own logos. Now what Company A wants is PDF and HTML outputs for all their three products. Is it possible with Madcap Flare?

So far what I have done is created Page layouts for different products with different Front Page and Chapter pages (for print only). Now, I got stuck at the Introduction (print only) page. Do I need to create different pages for this page too with different page layouts. I am sure there's a way around this rather than so much duplication. Can anyone suggest the best possible way in the shortest amount of time.

NOTE: It is worth mentioning that I am fairly new to Flare and not experienced with many intermediate-to-advanced concepts and techniques, so I apologize if there is a solution out there staring me in the face.

Thanks for your help.
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Re: Multiple Product Outputs

Postby devjoe on Fri Oct 12, 2018 7:27 am

First off, you're going to have one target (of the appropriate type) for each output. 6 targets in this case.
There are several ways you can change what goes into each target.

To change the logo that appears above the help, you want to modify the skin. You'll just have to create different copies of the skin, with the different logos specified in each one, and in the respective targets choose the appropriate skins.

To make specific content appear in only some of the outputs, you create condition tag sets under the Conditional Text folder in the Project Organizer. You can create as many tags as you need, each of them indicating a kind of content that belongs to a specific combination of targets. Then in the Conditional Text tab of each target, you can include or exclude specific tags. Keep in mind that all content is included by default, so when you start making condition tags, you will be making ones that apply to specific targets. You may have PrintOnly and ScreenOnly tags already created by Flare, but to make them actually work, you'll need to exclude ScreenOnly in the PDF targets and exclude PrintOnly in the HTML targets. You can also create Product1, Product2, and Product3 tags, and in the targets for each product, exclude the other two products.

It gets complicated if you want to have content that appears in products 1 and 2 but not product 3, and also content which is specific to product 1 print only, etc. If you specify that a tag is included, then it overrides any excludes. If each target includes its product tag, then you can tag content with product 1 and product 2's tags and it will appear in both of those (the include for one overriding the exclude for the other) and not in product 3's outputs. However, this also overrides the exclude on printonly/screenonly, so if you tagged something with product 1 and screen only, it will actually appear in the PDF (because the included product 1 tag overrides the excluded screenonly). There are ways to get around this problem, but for now let's not think about that and just try to get the basic functionality working for you.

You can apply conditions:
  • On paragraphs, tables, lists, and other HTML elements, in which case those elements are removed when excluded.
  • On a span tag (one gets inserted when you select some words out of a paragraph and right-click Conditions) to exclude just part of a paragraph.
  • On topics in the File List, Content Explorer, etc. which excludes the entire topic (in HTML outputs the file will not be there). Flare applies the condition to the HTML element in the topic when you do this, and that is another equivalent way to achieve the same thing.
  • On TOC entries. This excludes the topic from PDF output, which is derived solely from the list of topics in the TOC, and will omit the TOC entry (but not the topic itself) from HTML output. [There is an option in the HTML targets to Exclude content not linked directly or indirectly from the target, but if you have any fancy kinds of references, through Javascript, the CSS, etc. this breaks and omits stuff that needs to be there, so most people don't use this and manually exclude files not needed in each HTML output.]
  • On other kinds of content files. This excludes the files from the HTML output. Use this on content such as screenshots of one product.
  • On folders within the Content folder, which excludes all the files and subfolders in that folder. If you have a lot of product-specific content, you can put each product's content in a separate folder to make it easier to exclude those files from the help, with the shared content in a folder that isn't tagged.
  • On Context-Sensitive Help header files, to exclude the mapped numeric values within it from one output. You could create a separate header file with map numbers for each product's help, or just use product-specific ones for the things unique to each product and have one shared one for all the common stuff. You can also make separate alias files for each HTML target; these are specified on the Advanced tab of the target.

When applying conditions on some kinds of HTML elements within a topic, there is an Exclude Action you can specify. This is normally Remove, but you can select Unbind instead. This would remove the element while leaving its contents behind within the parent element. The main use for this is to remove a link (which might go to something that isn't included in a particular output) but leave the text intact.

Also be aware that conditioned elements are hierarchical. If a paragraph is removed, all links, images, etc. within that paragraph are also removed, even if one of them is marked with a tag that is included in the target. The only exception to this is for the Unbind action as described above.

You can also use variables. In the Variables folder in the Project Organizer, you can create variable sets, and within them you can create variables with a given name and value. This default value applies anywhere you don't override it. However, in each target's Variables tab, you can override those values just for that target. You can, for instance, create a Product variable which has the name of each product, and insert that in your topics where you want to refer to the name of the product. This helps avoid complicated conditional text in places where you are saying the same thing but using a different term for one product, or for each product. You can use variables in headings, including the topic's first heading which is used as the page title if you don't specify a title. It's also possible to use a variable in the text of a TOC entry, or as the destination of a link. To do so, use [%=variableset.variable%] (with the name of the variable set and variable filled in) as part or all of the value. This can let you customize TOC entries for each product and make links that go different places in the different targets rather than making multiple TOC entries/links and using conditional text to say which is included in each output.

To change the PDF title page, you could do any of the following:
  • Use different page layouts, with custom content in each first page, as you have done.
  • Create a separate print-only title page topic for each, with different content.
  • Use the same print-only title page topic for each, using a variable for the product name, and specify the value for this variable in each target.
What you choose depends on what exactly it is that you want to vary between the different outputs.

Once you get past the title page, you should probably not keep making different page layouts. You can still have different footers or whatever in the different page layouts that you created for the different products, but for the actual topic content you should stick with conditions and variables to do the customization, unless the content is totally different. If the products are similar, you might have an introduction topic with Introducing [%=Variables.Product=] as its heading, a generic intro paragraph which uses the product variable as well but is otherwise the same for each product, three different conditionally tagged paragraphs, each describing one of the products in more detail, and a list of links to sections of the product help, which might be mostly the same but some bulleted items might be tagged for specific products.
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Re: Multiple Product Outputs

Postby Arpita_17 on Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:20 pm

wow...I can learn a lot from your reply. I will create as you mentioned and post again if I get stuck. Thanks :-)
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Re: Multiple Product Outputs

Postby Arpita_17 on Mon Oct 15, 2018 5:47 am

Thanks for your reply earlier. It was really informative and helped me quite to understand conditional tags and other settings in Flare. Few more things that I wanted to check on. So now I have separate skins and targets set. The HTML outputs are generated like a charm. However, the PDF outputs are not displaying header and footer. Also, in one of the content pages, I have different overviews of the four products with conditional tags applied to each relevant paragraphs. The PDF is displaying the entire content regardless of the conditional tag. I am sure I am doing something wrong. Can you assist? Thanks
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Re: Multiple Product Outputs

Postby ChoccieMuffin on Mon Oct 15, 2018 6:46 am

To get headers and footers in your PDF outputs you need to set up page layouts (masterpages are only used for web/online outputs).

Take a look here as a starting point: ... ayouts.htm

For your content page that is displaying all the bits rather than only the one you want, in your PDF target EXCLUDE the conditions you DON'T want to display, rather than selecting to INclude the one you DO want to display, as things are (generally) displayed by default unless you exclude them. This is a very simplistic description of how conditions work so if you have other things going on it might not work, but give it a try and then come back to us if it turns out you need a bit more help. Conditions are rather fiddly, and can get confusing really quickly of you're not logical. (For help on conditions, here's a reasonable place to start: ... n-Tags.htm)
Started as a newbie with Flare 6.1, now using Flare 2019r1.
Report bugs at
Request features at ... quest.aspx
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Re: Multiple Product Outputs

Postby Arpita_17 on Mon Oct 15, 2018 9:49 pm

Thanks for sharing the help on page layouts and conditional tags.
So this is what worked for me. I am not sure if the approach is right...I just used the logic.
I created different TOCs for each of the PDF outputs. In the TOC, I linked each chapter to the relevant page layouts to display the correct Title page and chapter pages with conditional tags applied to each topic.

And voila - perfect PDFs !!! Couldn't be pleased more :-)
Lot to learn - Madcap Flare is massive and quite intimating in the first place for a writer who has been using MS Word since an age.

Thanks for all your help.
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