Help center referencing multiple variable-ized products

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Help center referencing multiple variable-ized products

Postby chuck_agari on Mon Mar 25, 2019 11:23 am

My goal here is to create a "help center," that is, a help "home page" with links to help for all of our products. (As well as PDFs, videos, and other resources). I have my content repository set up thusly:

The main folder contains a few common content files, as well as the "home" page
Sub-folders in both the Content and Images folder for the product-specific content
One variable set with definitions for each product defined
Targets for each product, both PDF and HTML5. In each, variable definitions are specified for that target

In the "help home" target, I have a TOC that does nothing more that contain the product TOCs. This looked like it worked wonderfully. I have a TOC in the output with the top level as the separate products. It's impressing a lot of people here.

The thing is, I can define variable definitions in the "help home" target. But it is those definitions that end up being used throughout the output. And in the Properties of the TOCs themselves and the references to the TOCs in the "home" TOC, I can't define variable definitions. So in 2 of the 3 sets of product content, the wrong variables are used.

There is a workaround: I can use a snippet. The snippet contains just a variable. And then when I insert the snippet, I can define the snippet-level variable.

But, this is a PITA.

That means that every single time I want to insert a variable--and there are variables _everywhere_ in my content set--it means that I have to not insert a variable, but instead remember to insert a snippet, and then open that snippet's settings and set the proper snippet variable (a process that I also found is buggy, which means I have to test to make sure it actually has done what I told it to do). And I also have to go find every single variable that I've already inserted throughout my content set and change them to snippets (most of which I'd have to create). That's a whole lot of work, necessary work, in my view.

So my questions:

Is there a different way to approach this?
Is there something that Flare does that I'm missing that would alleviate this?
Is the idea of building a "home" page that just references TOCs the wrong one?

Any other suggestions welcome.
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Re: Help center referencing multiple variable-ized products

Postby chuck_agari on Mon Mar 25, 2019 4:36 pm

I found what seems to be a semi-easy workaround: Separate variables files. I created a set of global variables, and then a set for each product. I changed the variable references in one topic and the result was what I wanted. It's gong to be a bit of work to change them all, and I am not sure I want to do a global search-and-replace because I don't want to introduce coding errors, but I think this will work going forward.
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Re: Help center referencing multiple variable-ized products

Postby Psider on Mon Mar 25, 2019 8:13 pm

It sort of sounds like project merging would meet your needs, but it's not supported in Top Nav or Side Nav. :(
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Re: Help center referencing multiple variable-ized products

Postby Nita Beck on Wed Mar 27, 2019 7:11 am

My approach (which I totally credit to Scott DeLoach) would be to have a global project, several product-level child projects, and one grand build project that pulls everything together. Scott discussed this in a webinar last year, and I think it a brilliant solution. The recorded webinar, in which this scheme is discussed near the end, is at https://www.madcapsoftware.com/webinars/single-sourcing-best-practices-multiple-madcap-flare-projects/.

HTH
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Re: Help center referencing multiple variable-ized products

Postby chuck_agari on Wed Mar 27, 2019 11:10 am

Nita Beck wrote:My approach (which I totally credit to Scott DeLoach) would be to have a global project, several product-level child projects, and one grand build project that pulls everything together. Scott discussed this in a webinar last year, and I think it a brilliant solution. The recorded webinar, in which this scheme is discussed near the end, is at https://www.madcapsoftware.com/webinars/single-sourcing-best-practices-multiple-madcap-flare-projects/.

HTH

I had considered that, but it seemed to me that having a single project as a whole content repository made more sense. For one thing, it makes content reuse easier. There's only ever one project to have open in Flare. And the differentiation comes through targets, multiple variable definitions, conditional text, and so on.Plus, there's only one repo in GitHub.
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