Mark Metcalfe, Documentation Director at web content and customer experience management software company Ektron, is an avid user of MadCap Software tools. He recently hosted the webinar, “Designing the Documentation User Experience to Speed Information,” which you can watch here.
As the documentation director at Ektron, I am focused on making useful information easy to access and navigate for our customers. Part of that focus is devoted to maintaining an efficient project. Over time, projects accumulate unnecessary bloat (such as broken links that can be missed in testing, stuff that is unwittingly creating inside your XML content), and builds can take longer to complete.
At Ektron, we use MadCap Analyzer in tandem with MadCap Flare to streamline our large projects and keep them running efficiently.
Analyzer helps you identify critical pieces that are broken, unused, or may even leave you vulnerable. For example, let’s say you have SecretDataFile.htm in your project. It isn’t in your Table of Contents and will not show up after you build the project. Did you know that SecretDataFile.htm was still generated and packaged with your output? Even though people cannot access SecretDataFile.htm from your project (because it wasn’t in your TOC), they may be able to find the file through a search (because the file is included in the output as an unconnected project file).
Here are several Analyzer reports I use regularly to keep our project tidy:
- Broken anything! (Broken Links, Broken Bookmarks, and so on). Critical problems that show up in red get my first attention. If there only a few of them, you can click on the issue and fix it right in Analyzer, or export a larger report into a spreadsheet.
- Unused anything! (Unused content files, unused bookmarks, and so on.) If you don’t need them, then don’t build them! The reports find files that I no longer need, especially image files that I’ve replaced with new screen captures. You might think that a few unused bookmarks won’t hurt your build, but an accumulation of them is like sludge in your car engine. (Keep the engine well-oiled.)
- Topics not linked by Map ID—This report finds the files that do not have links to context-sensitive help.
- Topics not in any TOC—This report finds SecretDataFile.htm and NoLongerUsedChapter.htm for you.
Tip: If you set an exclude condition on a file in the Content tab, the file will not show up in your output files. If you set the condition on the TOC item, the file will show up in the output files!
When we first started using Analyzer, we cut nearly 50% of our output file count, and cut our project files by over 25%. Since then, we periodically keep our Ektron documentation projects running efficiently (and inexpensively) with regular Analyzer maintenance.
Learn more about MadCap Analyzer and download your 30-day free trial here.