When it comes to adopting a single source workflow, MadCap Flare is a powerhouse tool. Content authors rely on Flare to help maximize the reuse of this source content, and to deliver the right content, to the right audience, in whatever format is needed — aka multi-channel publishing.

One such channel, which has been highly requested as of late, is Salesforce Knowledge. What’s tricky about Salesforce is that it makes it challenging to author and reuse content. Salesforce doesn’t provide a robust authoring platform nor does it make it easy to import structured content.  Authors end up spending hours manually copying and pasting content from Flare (or another source) into Salesforce.  More time is spent manually reformatting that content in Salesforce so that it respects the corporate styling that was so easily managed in Flare.  If content is subsequently updated in Flare (which is often the case), then get ready to rinse and repeat all that copying, pasting and reformatting work. Salesforce administrators may also be tasked with the job, so finding a viable time-saving solution has been sought out from multiple departments within an organization.

With the release of Flare 2017 r2, we introduced a new plugin called Salesforce Connect, which enables Flare authors to publish single sourced content directly to Salesforce Knowledge.  With Salesforce Connect, you can kiss those copying and pasting days goodbye.

 The Mechanics

First things first – to get content published directly to Salesforce, you will need to have Salesforce Connect installed. When installing Flare 2017 r2, choose the Custom installation type and click Next:

 

Install Screen 1

 

On the next page of the Installation Wizard, select Salesforce Connect:

 

Install Screen 2

 

Since Salesforce does not support JavaScript or external stylesheets, any topics destined to become Salesforce Knowledge articles should be included in a Clean XHMTL target.  This is a new target type that was released with Flare 2017. It produces basic HTML files that are free of MadCap-specific tags and not dependent upon other MadCap-generated files. This output does not include any skins, search, navigation, or other extra features; it is simply your single-sourced content.

After you build your Clean XHTML target, Flare has to know where to publish the content. This is where Salesforce Connect comes in. To make the publishing of content to Salesforce possible, we extended the capabilities of the publishing destination feature in Flare.

Publishing destinations can be set up in Flare to make it quick and easy to transfer output files to a location where others can access them, such as on a network, a web server, and with this new Flare release, Salesforce Knowledge.  In Flare 2017 r2, when you create a publishing destination, you will see a new destination type called Salesforce Connect:

 

Destination Editor

 

With this new integration, your publishing destination file will publish your Clean XHTML output directly to Salesforce as Articles.

Here is an example of a topic authored in Flare:

 

 

This is the same topic published as a Salesforce Knowledge Article:

 

 

Now your Salesforce Community includes single sourced content directly from Flare. No copying, pasting, or reformatting required!

Salesforce Connect Tips

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when publishing to Salesforce:

Tip #1

Remember, Salesforce does not support JavaScript or external stylesheets. Therefore, only the Clean XHTML target type in Flare is fully supported.

Tip #2

When you create your Clean XHTML target, it is recommended that you enable the option “Convert stylesheet styles to inline styles,” which can be selected in the General tab of the Target Editor. This will ensure that your styling is maintained when you publish the Clean XHTML output to Salesforce.

Tip #3

Another styling tip to avoid having to manually reformat things in SF:  it is normally recommended that you set certain global properties (e.g., font size and type) on the body style in your stylesheet. That way, the settings trickle down to all of your other styles. However, the <body> tag will not be retained when you publish to Salesforce. Therefore, anything that you have originally set on your body style will need to instead be set on lower styles in the hierarchy (e.g., p, ul, div).

Tip #4

In addition to having Salesforce Knowledge enabled, be sure you have rights to publish to Salesforce as well as at least one Article type with a Rich Text Field.

To learn more about Creating Publishing Destinations in Flare, visit the Help article here.

A Better Way to Publish Directly to Salesforce Knowledge

That’s it! Pretty straightforward.  I encourage you to install this latest release and try out the Salesforce Connect plugin. It’s free for 30 days, and we’re happy to help answer any questions while you test the integration.

Note: Salesforce Connect is integrated as an optional plugin within Flare 2017 r2 and can be tested free for 30 days. The plugin is sold separately and is licensed on an annual subscription basis per user. Pricing and licensing information can be found here.

Contact us or download a fully functional 30-day trial of Flare 2017 r2 here.

About The Author

Jennifer Morse

About Jennifer Morse

Jennifer Morse, Product Evangelist for MadCap Software, has over 16 years of experience in the technical communication industry. Since joining the company in 2006, Jennifer has played an integral role in MadCap's growth, helping to increase MadCap's market share in the United States and overseas markets including Europe, the Middle East and India.

Last Modified: June 20, 2017

This entry was posted in Clean XHTML, MadCap Flare, Publishing, Salesforce Connect, Tips & Tricks and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments

  • Matt Fleagle June 5, 2017 at 10:45 AM

    Jennifer, this is great news. I wish it had been for ServiceNow instead of Sales Force, because now I’m just jealous of Sales Force users. As you know, my company went with ServiceNow and there was no way to publish into its KB from Flare, or even import the Flare output in any usable way. I know you were taking this issue seriously for a long time and I’m glad your efforts are paying off for users. Now, can we get a little love for the Flare > ServiceNow workflow? ;)

    • Jennifer Morse Jennifer June 7, 2017 at 3:22 PM

      Hi Matt! Thanks for your comment. I hope we can support additional plugins in the future. Does Service Now take in standard, clean HTML files? Perhaps the new clean XHTML output can get you most of the way there, by producing your single sourced topics that are free of any madcap tags. It’s an option for those who need to port their content into something other than a MadCap ecosystem.

    • Amy Gracer June 15, 2017 at 1:06 PM

      I second Matt’s request!

  • C Hayward June 6, 2017 at 9:42 AM

    I think calling it a “fully functional” 30-day trial is disingenuous, since we can only publish 10 topics to Salesforce during the trial. You should also mention that there’s a 1 MB limit on images pushed to Salesforce, and that topics containing larger images will not publish at all unless you select the compression option that limits your entire help center output to 20 MB.

    • Jennifer Morse Jennifer June 7, 2017 at 3:37 PM

      Thanks for your comment, and that is a great point. I will edit my last sentence to clarify that the fully functional trial is for Flare, as the plugin is installed when you install the Flare trial. Also, you point out a good reminder of what folks should be aware of in terms of the image size limit Salesforce has.

      • David Hill August 23, 2017 at 5:32 PM

        Jennifer – Can you further comment on and clarify the 20 MB limit for the rest of us? I am an existing Flare user looking to integrate Flare at a Salesforce shop that has no Flare as of yet. It would seem both useful and necessary to have some more technical FAQs and gotchas linked here where we can easily find them. I have further questions below on another point. Thanks!

  • Katrina Frigeri July 19, 2017 at 7:43 AM

    Thanks for the overview. In your instructions, you wrote, “With this new integration, your publishing destination file will publish your Clean XHTML output directly to Salesforce as Articles.” However, when we tested the integration we found that there’s a 1 article-to-1 publishing destination relationship. So if we have 800 articles in Salesforce, we must have 800 publishing destinations set up—a requirement that’s not sustainable for us. Was there an update/release to fix this or is this still the requirement?

    • Jennifer Morse Jennifer Morse July 19, 2017 at 1:32 PM

      Hi Katrina, I agree, that doesn’t sound sustainable. Let’s take a look a look at your project and see what’s going on. Perhaps we can spot a setting and advise on a solution. I’ll send you a note.

      • David Hill August 23, 2017 at 4:47 PM

        Hi Jennifer – I have the same question pre demo and would like to see this aspect covered either in your knowledge base or one of your youtube videos. It would also be good to cover related aspects, such as how/whether relationships are maintained between Flare source topics and article numbers in Salesforce as topics are updated over time, and whether using Salesforce in any way supplants the need for git/TFS as flare source control (or whether it is simply in addition to that).

  • Jennifer Morse Jennifer Morse August 24, 2017 at 12:27 PM

    Thanks, David. Great ideas for some KB articles and future posts. I will send you a note, would love to connect about your questions.

  • Kate Miller September 7, 2017 at 9:01 AM

    I am seeking advice on justifying the cost of Salesforce Connect. We currrently use Salesforce’s import capability to import Clean XHTML Articles created by Flare using a .csv and .properties file. We would be less reliant on the our internal Salesforce support so that is a plus, however, I am not sure I can claim time savings. How are you justifying the cost? Thanks for any ideas.

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