Monday, April 3 - Main Conference, Day 1
Break, Networking & Hospitality Lounge
Go Easy on Yourself: Designing Easy-to-Maintain MadCap Flare Projects
MadCap Flare authors typically consider design issues in service to users: skin layout and elements; navigational methods; stylesheets and table stylesheets; searchability; accessibility; context sensitivity; subject-matter accuracy, completeness, and comprehensiveness; localization; and responsiveness. But what about maintainability? How easy are your team’s Flare projects to maintain? How easy it is to add new authors to the authoring team? In this session, Flare consultant Nita Beck offers best practices for designing Flare projects that also serve you and your teammates well. Among the ideas we'll explore are starting with a design plan; devising good folder structures and naming conventions; creating topic templates, with instructions on their use; creating "starter" snippets, with instructions for their use; adding author comments to your content, stylesheets, and other project files; keeping a tidy project; and maintaining authors' guidance right within the project.
Maximizing Re-use within MadCap Flare
This session helps you to be more efficient and to reduce maintenance time by re-using your information in a variety of powerful ways. We'll look at Snippets and Variables, and we'll see how these items can be shared between multiple projects. The session will also demonstrate a range of techniques for increasing the flexibility of your re-usable components. These techniques include Snippet conditions, overriding a snippet variable definition for a topic, and overriding a variable definition for a target. We'll consider real-life scenarios within which each of these techniques could save you significant time and money.
Introducing MadCap Central for Cloud-based Content Management
Are you interested in learning how you can combine powerful desktop authoring with a cloud-based content management environment? Do you struggle with managing production schedules and tasks associated with your project deliverables? Are you tired of relying on your IT team to help publish your content? If you answered yes to any of these questions, join me for an overview of MadCap Central, where we will walk through how MadCap Central can extend your authoring and publishing capabilities within your documentation workflow. This is the perfect primer session to attend prior to Paul Stoecklein’s presentation following this session, where he will take a deeper dive into the heart of MadCap Central.
Tips for Importing Microsoft® Word into MadCap Flare
What are your options when you have long Word documents with inconsistent styling and formatting? Learn how to import your Word documents into MadCap Flare effectively and efficiently. Karen Miller, CMS Specialist, will demonstrate Word functionality that is useful for any new user starting off in MadCap Flare.
Tips and Tricks to Conducting a Successful Content Audit
Learn the tips and tricks to building a successful content audit! This session, hosted by Denise Kadilak, addresses what is a content audit, how it fits into your content strategy, how to create an audit plan, and how to take advantage of MadCap products and tools to make the process easier.
“Wait, What Did You Just Do?” Tips for Enhancing Your Authoring Experience
With MadCap Flare's comprehensive abilities in authoring, there is often more than one way to do the same thing. In this session, veteran Flare user Derek Warren discusses tips and tricks to make you faster and more efficient as a help author. Come ready to learn about keyboard shortcuts, settings, macros, and other interface elements that will knock your socks off!
The Heart of MadCap Central: Project and Task Management
This session takes a detailed look at the parts of MadCap Central where users will spend most of their time—projects and tasks. You will learn how to connect your MadCap Flare projects to MadCap Central and use the integrated source control solution to keep your content in sync. I will also discuss how you can build, publish, and roll back output, plus more. And finally, I will cover MadCap Central’s system for task management. You will see how it can help managers and writers maintain control of their ongoing processes and workloads. It is recommended that you attend the session “Introducing MadCap Central for Cloud-based Content Management” by Jennifer Morse before attending this session.
User Experience–Employing UX Concepts and Design Methodologies in Your Documentation
Learn the basics of User Experience (UX) design, why UX is important, and how it is typically applied to software, hardware, and documentation products. Then, we look at simple design methodologies inspired by highly successful companies and based on academic research. You will take away practical and engaging tools to improve the user experience of your information system.
Lunch, Networking & Hospitality Lounge
Harnessing the Power of MadCap Flare’s Stylesheet Editor
MadCap Flare’s stylesheet feature may be the most powerful in the industry. Learning how to use stylesheets and implement their options will make you a more effective Flare author, but it can be confusing at first if you're new to Flare and styles. That’s the subject of this presentation. We’ll first review the basic logic behind stylesheets. We’ll then look at different parts of the stylesheet editor, including the predefined styles and different ways to list them, predefined properties and different ways to change them, the concept behind stylesheet mediums, and more. You’ll leave this session with a solid grounding in the theory and use of Flare’s stylesheet editor.
Best Practices for Creating Policies and Procedures
Every company has policies and procedures, and often administrative staff and technical communicators help create and publish these documents. Policies and procedures are broad-reaching, because they affect all employees. Even creating policies and procedures involves more people at every level of an organization given the nature of the content, creating a variety of challenges uncommon in other types of communication projects. In this presentation, Cheryl Landes, Technical Communications Consultant and owner of Tabby Cat Communications, will discuss these challenges and how to overcome them. She will present ten best practices that will help you successfully develop and publish policy and procedure documents, regardless of the project size, and become the policy guru in your organization.
Case Study: The Great Migration
Migrating to MadCap Flare from a bespoke but aging heavyweight Component CMS in 7 easy steps. How do you get over 5000 documents from Schema ST4 into Flare, recreate the existing PDFs and chop the content into nice responsive HTML with Pulse providing the interactive backend? In this session, Oliver Howell discusses how he led his team to a successful migration from a legacy authoring system, running an Agile development project internally and overcoming numerous challenges along the way (including building a business case for change!).
Be Responsible: Using MadCap Flare’s Responsive Design Editor
Over the last few years, our world has become a mobile-first world. The proliferation of handheld and other portable devices has revolutionized the way people get information. Have your HTML documentation sites kept up with the times? In this session, we will dive into the capabilities that MadCap Flare offers to help make your HTML outputs responsive—outputs that optimize themselves based on the device being used. We will walk through all facets of Flare’s responsive design capabilities, focusing particularly on the Responsive Layout Editor. At the end of this session, you’ll have the knowledge and tools you need to start delivering responsive HTML help sites.
Writing Effective CSS in MadCap Flare: Understanding the Box Model
The position of every element on a MadCap Flare document page, and its position relative to other elements on the page, is controlled by the three basic parameters that make up the Box Model: padding (the space immediately around the element), borders (the bounding lines around the element) and margins (the space separating two elements). These parameters are directly descended from traditional typography and their implementation in the digital world can take a bit of effort to fully appreciate and utilize in Flare projects. Once they are understood, they become powerful tools in designing an effective page layout. This presentation will cover the origin and meanings of the box model components and demonstrate how they are implemented in Flare, both through the Stylesheet Editor and directly editing the text CSS file, providing a solid base of knowledge on how to properly and effectively use the padding, border and margin parameters to design a quality page layout.
Using MadCap Contributor and MadCap Analyzer for MadCap Flare Topic Review
In this session, Documentation Manager, Lindsay Vannarsdall, gives an in-depth look on how to successfully integrate MadCap Contributor and MadCap Analyzer with MadCap Flare to simplify help file reviews. Learn how her team of technical writers and SMEs streamlined the review process using Contributor’s track changes and Analyzer’s reporting functionality to perform and review changes. In addition, she’ll also give a use case on how to use Flare’s file tags to identify files that require review.
Choosing MadCap Flare Over DITA, But Getting the Best of Both Worlds
In this presentation, learn how our harrowing 11th hour selection of MadCap Flare over the Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) saved our company well over $100,000 a year. But even better, it helped us to ramp up very quickly and get the entire team using a consistent methodology that improved our content, our agility as a team, and our customer experience. Using MadCap Flare paired with source control enabled us to establish a mock content management system that provided most of what we would get by paying for a DITA CMS, but with fewer limitations and more room for creativity. Learn about the benefits we’ve experienced, as well as how we integrated the best aspects of DITA into our content development methodology.
Breaking the Silence: How to Build Influence as a Tech Writer
As technical writers, we have something incredibly valuable to share with the world – best practices, efficient workflows, writing styles, and so on – yet so few of us choose to share it. Maybe you’re the only writer in your organization, or maybe you don’t know the best way to go about getting started. Or the likely scenario: Your friends still don’t understand what you do, so why share your expertise if no one cares nor relates? Well, the good news is technical writers just look like you are desperately searching for influencers. The kind of influencers with diverse skill sets and backgrounds who graciously share their expertise with fellow colleagues. And the best part: You have the skills to become that influencer. In this presentation, you’ll learn how to use your expertise to build your influence, including how to find what to share, learn how to share it, and choose where to share it.
Break, Networking & Hospitality Lounge
One Year with MadCap Flare: Problems, Solutions, & Other Fun Innovations
Technical Writer, Morgan Hancock reflects on her first year using MadCap Flare & how the Bazaarvoice writers got creative to get projects done. The audience will select topics for further exploration after a rapid fire presentation that briefly covers topics that emerge throughout the course of a Flare project, such as template creation, migration, publishing to internal web servers, localization and more.
This or That? Choosing Between TFS and Git for Source Control
Microsoft’s Team Foundation Server (TFS) and Git are two popular choices for source control, but deciding which option is the best fit for your team can be difficult. Senior Technical Writer, Denise Peña led Blackbaud’s team of writers in Austin in making the switch from TFS to Git, and can help you figure out which option might be best for your team. In this presentation, she covers the pros, cons, and best practices for TFS and Git, as well as the workflows the Blackbaud team used. In addition, she’ll also detail the options in Flare that simplify the TFS and Git experience.
Cutting Edge HTML5 Design
In this presentation, Scott DeLoach will explain the differences between master pages, stylesheets, and skins. He will also present design tips and tricks for creating HTML5 targets using real-world examples, including projects highlighted in the customer showcase, and explain how the designs can be replicated in attendee's projects.
Is Your CSS WET or DRY? The Importance of DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself) CSS
Technical writers are being asked more and more to handle the design of help output. In MadCap Flare, we use CSS to manage that design. But how maintainable is your CSS? In how many places do you have to update a value in order to change one setting in your interface? In this session, Principal Information Developer, Mike Kelley will teach you how to write DRY CSS so that it's more compact and easier to maintain. The person who inherits a DRY project after you won't hate you for life.
Evening Event & Networking
Day one is done and it is time to “Get Your Shine On” and let loose at Moonshine Flats – downtown San Diego’s largest country bar. With over 18,000 square feet, 2 levels and a spacious lounge, the venue boasts a massive wooden dance floor complete with DJ for line dancing instruction. We’ll enjoy a classic Smokehouse BBQ dinner, craft beer and Moonshine cocktails.