Updating Flarestrap for SEO. Taking feature requests.

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Updating Flarestrap for SEO. Taking feature requests.

Postby jbrock on Thu Nov 06, 2014 12:59 pm

Flarestrap is the SEO for Madcap Flare project I shared about a year ago when we did the project showcase webinar featuring Bomgar's docs site. Here are the slides from that webinar.

Anyway, I'm updating the core Flarestrap project to make things easier for us with our own webhelp. There are tons of enhancements I know it needs ... better navigation being one of them. I also want to have a version that lets you just use the Bootstrap grid for Masterpage layout.

But since a lot of folks have expressed interest in using the project, I thought I'd ask here, too.

For those of you who've considered using Flarestrap for your output, what do you think it needs? Go.
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Re: Updating Flarestrap for SEO. Taking feature requests.

Postby lucyjen7 on Thu Nov 06, 2014 1:54 pm

I've never been able to get Bootstrap's Affix JavaScript functionality (http://getbootstrap.com/javascript/#affix) to work with my project. My company specifically wants this for the API docs. Any tips or hacks?
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Re: Updating Flarestrap for SEO. Taking feature requests.

Postby jbrock on Fri Nov 07, 2014 8:36 am

Yeah, the Affix function would be a good addition, especially for guide-specific navigation. I'm looking into using it. Also, there's this really cool ScrollToFixed script on Github. That's an option.

Thanks for the input!
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Re: Updating Flarestrap for SEO. Taking feature requests.

Postby Lydia on Mon Nov 10, 2014 2:29 am

Hi Justin, that is great news. I've tried a few things with flarestrap, just to showcase options to my team. I probably have just scratched the surface, so I have no 'big' feature suggestions yet. Two things that come to my mind:
- What about the bootstrap carousel? Probably I can use it already, but there is also the slideshow in Flare. Do they 'integrate' in any way?
- Small thing but important: I wondered about a way to get the copyright/license right for bootstrap/flarestrap. Yes, it's free but there should be a note (how?) to the origin. A snippet/masterpage/other with a standard note would be great.

If those things are already possible, I'm sorry for my oversight.
Using Flare 10.2 and Flare 11 on Win 7
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Re: Updating Flarestrap for SEO. Taking feature requests.

Postby paul_collins on Mon Nov 10, 2014 3:35 am

First, I'd like to say that what you have done so far is fantastic.

One feature I'd like to see added is cascading/multi-level menus.

The other general enhancement to the Flarestrap site that would be great is a bit more guidance/examples on how to add more master page elements to the navbars/chrome such as icons/buttons, search boxes and so on.

It would also be good to have a selection of sample Flare projects and topics e.g. with single navbars, twin navbars (as per Bomgar's site), cascading menus etc.

I know that there is a lot of info on bootstrap on the web, but nothing beats a set of example projects that users can adapt for their own needs.
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Re: Updating Flarestrap for SEO. Taking feature requests.

Postby jbrock on Mon Nov 10, 2014 7:35 am

Thanks so much, Paul!

I think including some sample projects would be helpful. I'll try to do that.

Could you elaborate a bit more on what you mean by "cascading/multi-level menus"? Perhaps a link to an example?
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Re: Updating Flarestrap for SEO. Taking feature requests.

Postby jbrock on Mon Nov 10, 2014 7:39 am

Lydia wrote:Hi Justin, that is great news. I've tried a few things with flarestrap, just to showcase options to my team. I probably have just scratched the surface, so I have no 'big' feature suggestions yet. Two things that come to my mind:
- What about the bootstrap carousel? Probably I can use it already, but there is also the slideshow in Flare. Do they 'integrate' in any way?
- Small thing but important: I wondered about a way to get the copyright/license right for bootstrap/flarestrap. Yes, it's free but there should be a note (how?) to the origin. A snippet/masterpage/other with a standard note would be great.

If those things are already possible, I'm sorry for my oversight.


Lydia, thanks for the suggestions. I think the bootstrap carousel would work. I'll have to test that.

As for the copyright/license, I had considered including a zipped up source of Bootstrap in the download of Flarestrap. Perhaps that's insufficient. In the CSS, I do leave the Bootstrap portions defined.
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Re: Updating Flarestrap for SEO. Taking feature requests.

Postby paul_collins on Mon Nov 10, 2014 10:06 am

Hi Justin - I've read that support for multi-level drop down menus was removed in Bootstrap 3. Therefore users have been coming up with their own css classes to support it.

An example of what I'm talking about can be found at http://bootsnipp.com/snippets/featured/ ... n-menu-bs3
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Re: Updating Flarestrap for SEO. Taking feature requests.

Postby jbrock on Wed Nov 12, 2014 8:29 am

Thanks for the Bootsnipp link, Paul. I've seen the site before, but now you've made me want to revisit it to find more cool things to include.
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Re: Updating Flarestrap for SEO. Taking feature requests.

Postby dotela on Tue Nov 18, 2014 12:04 pm

Hey Justin,
First, thank you so much for sharing this material and going the extra step of asking for feature requests. I don't know if it's anywhere near your scope, but my request is to have navigation (and/or sub-navigation) snippet creation driven from Flare TOCs into the sample project. I know unordered lists are easy to build, but I'm looking at a project with some significant and dynamic content and not only HTML5 but PDF targets as well. I found a sample from Dave Lee in the Flare forums using an xlst transformation using SmartMenus, but something that went directly to bootstrap dropdown menus and/or further automating such a process would be pretty cool.
Along those same lines (regenerating default framed content from Flare), I was wondering if it would be possible to generate an Index webpage from the Flare content in the iframe. This isn't nearly as critical as the TOC->navigation item, but I'm just thinking it would be nice to publish all of the content created and likely used in a print-based product on the web. Thanks again.

"'Now is the Quest achieved,' he said, 'and my doom full-wrought'; and he spoke no more."
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Re: Updating Flarestrap for SEO. Taking feature requests.

Postby Dave Lee on Wed Nov 19, 2014 1:37 am

dotela wrote:I found a sample from Dave Lee in the Flare forums using an xlst transformation using SmartMenus, but something that went directly to bootstrap dropdown menus and/or further automating such a process would be pretty cool.


I actually looked at Bootstrap before finding the SmartMenus plugin. Boostrap v3 doesn't natively support multi-level dropdown menus (unlike v2), so I looked at a few different solutions to get multi-level menus in Bootstrap. However, most solutions that I found had some issues; e.g.
- I couldn't find one that allows you to have a linked 'book' topic in the menu; i.e. a parent/book item that's a clickable link to a topic.
- Some didn't support responsive layouts very well.
- Some could only use hover to open menus, so they wouldn't work with a touch input.

SmartMenus was the best menu plugin that I could find, and was easy to demonstrate in an example project (as it didn't require the Bootstrap framework).

Anyway, if you're using Bootstrap, note that SmartMenus has a Bootstrap addon:
- blog post: http://www.smartmenus.org/blog/smartmen ... ro-config/

Whatever menu plugin you use, the XLST in my example should be quite easy to adjust for a Bootstrap-based menu, as they should all use lists. You'd just need to tweak it slightly to use the style names for your chosen Bootstrap menu plugin.
- http://ukauthor.wordpress.com/2014/08/07/displaying-the-flare-toc-as-menu/
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Re: Updating Flarestrap for SEO. Taking feature requests.

Postby jbrock on Thu Dec 11, 2014 8:19 am

Dave and Dotela, thank you so much for the input ... and the links. I'll certainly look into this. I've never done anything with XLST, but, with Dave's article as a guide, I may be able to pull something together.
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Re: Updating Flarestrap for SEO. Taking feature requests.

Postby shulif on Tue Jan 06, 2015 5:35 am

Hi Justin
Any idea as to how using such a framework would affect CSH?
Thanks
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Re: Updating Flarestrap for SEO. Taking feature requests.

Postby mafra1 on Thu Jan 08, 2015 5:18 am

Just a thought on the multi/fly-out menus; they come with a diagonal Issue:
users lose, or drop off the menu unless the cursor stays within the boundaries of the menu.

that one is really frustrating.
I guess one can add extra margin to the menus so you can be a bit outside of the menus but still keep it while
you try to reach the leaf, bottom.
(just adding an interaction design aspect :)

Amazon, for instance, use the solution Bruce Tognazzini came up with in -86:
http://bjk5.com/post/44698559168/breaki ... a-dropdown

Any idea of trying to do mega-menus? (benefit is a shallower navigation structure)
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Re: Updating Flarestrap for SEO. Taking feature requests.

Postby Mike Kelley on Sat Jan 17, 2015 11:10 am

Justin,

I love Flarestrap. This is a fun project that I've enjoyed using. I implemented SmartMenus to restore sub-menus to Bootstrap 3.0, so maybe you could integrate that into your next build. Also, I haven't spent any time implementing a search solution for a Flarestrap output. If you could consider that or if you (or Dave Lee) have any recommendations on implementing search without the skin, that'd be great.

You're awesome!
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Re: Updating Flarestrap for SEO. Taking feature requests.

Postby Dave Lee on Mon Jan 19, 2015 3:30 am

Mike Kelley wrote:If you could consider that or if you (or Dave Lee) have any recommendations on implementing search without the skin, that'd be great.


I've tried Google Custom Search Engine, which works fine:
https://www.google.com/cse
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Re: Updating Flarestrap for SEO. Taking feature requests.

Postby joy on Mon Feb 23, 2015 2:34 pm

Hi Justin, We're getting numerous comments related to content searches, and Google led us to Flarestrap. I put together a quick example using your template, and we all loved it.

We didn't realize the scope of the SEO issue until we started digging -- so, thank you for sharing your solution!

I like dotela's suggestions for feature requests, mainly because we have a massive project with an equally massive TOC. (It would be even better if Madcap incorporated your solution into one of their updates!) :idea:

Are you still planning an update? If so, do you have a rough timeline?
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Re: Updating Flarestrap for SEO. Taking feature requests.

Postby jbrock on Tue Mar 17, 2015 7:57 am

joy wrote:Are you still planning an update? If so, do you have a rough timeline?


Thanks for your interest! The TOC issue is certainly a part I want to accommodate.

Currently, my goal is sometime in Q2 2015. I'm pretty swamped with new content right now, so I haven't had much time for development.
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Re: Updating Flarestrap for SEO. Taking feature requests.

Postby Dave Lee on Tue Mar 17, 2015 8:31 am

I think you should take a look at Flare v11, as it supports a single-page output now; making all this sort of stuff a lot easier in Flare.

There's a 'top navigation' skin (see Flare's help as an example), and perhaps more interesting are the skin proxies which allow you choose where in your page to put components like the menu (navigation), search, search results.
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Re: Updating Flarestrap for SEO. Taking feature requests.

Postby jbrock on Wed Mar 18, 2015 12:42 pm

Dave Lee wrote:I think you should take a look at Flare v11, as it supports a single-page output now; making all this sort of stuff a lot easier in Flare.

There's a 'top navigation' skin (see Flare's help as an example), and perhaps more interesting are the skin proxies which allow you choose where in your page to put components like the menu (navigation), search, search results.


I just signed up for the Flare 11 Webinar and downloaded a trial. First impression - it appears as though Flare has finally escaped the iframe. I'm going to spend some time testing to make sure it meets our needs. But I did run a xml-sitemap and exceeded 500 pages on crawl. That a TON better than the current HTML outputs. Stay tuned.
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Re: Updating Flarestrap for SEO. Taking feature requests.

Postby jbrock on Thu Mar 19, 2015 8:49 am

Hi everyone. I wrote an update about this on the Flarestrap site.

Basically, the Top Navigation targets in Flare 11 look really promising for SEO. So I'm putting my Flarestrap update on hold while I spend some time testing out Flare 11. The main benefit I see so far about Flare 11 - outside of the SEO benefits - is that Flare feature that were previously dependent on the skin (search, bookmarking, browse sequences, csh, etc.) now do not seem to be. So you can be search engine friendly without losing Flare features.

I'll write more later, but if you were waiting on a Flarestrap update, I recommend checking out Flare 11 for now.
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