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Zend Technologies Relies on MadCap Flare for Single-source Publishing of Customized Online Documentation, WebHelp and Mobile Outputs

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Zend Technologies

Cupertino, CA

Industry:

  • Software

Goals:

  • Streamline process to keep pace with rapid delivery of multiple product versions
  • Publish Help and documentation on the Web and on mobile devices, so users can access content when and where they need it
  • Enhance the overall look and feel of the content

Solutions:

  • MadCap Flare native XML tool for topic-based authoring and single-source publishing

Benefits:

  • Flare’s topic-based authoring and single-source publishing eliminate redundancies and reduce project time
  • Flare’s single-source publishing lets Zend manage content in multiple outputs for multiple products, each with hundreds of pages of documentation
  • Flare’s support for mobile outputs has helped Zend to expand the availability of its content, enhancing the user experience
  • Zend uses HTML5 and cascading style sheets in Flare to customize the look and feel of its content and then generate different variations using targets
  • MadCap support and forums helped Zend to shorten the learning curve and gain new skills with Flare
“Flare has truly transformed the way we deliver content to our users, and we’re excited at the thought of how we can continue to evolve our system using Flare.”
Daniel Berman |
Technical Communicator,
Zend Technologies
“Flare's mobile output enables us to deliver on customer expectations, so they can get the information they need anytime, anywhere.”
Daniel Berman |
Technical Communicator,
Zend Technologies

Zend Technologies—a leading provider of PHP software and services for developing, deploying and managing business-critical applications—is recognized for helping establish the PHP language, which today powers over 200 million applications and websites. More than 40,000 companies worldwide rely on Zend’s industry-leading PHP solutions.

Increasingly, businesses are recognizing that speed, agility and innovation in their application delivery are critical for success. Fueled by the demand for rapid application delivery, Zend has trained more than 10,000 Zend Certified Engineers (ZCE), including 1,500-plus new engineers in the past year alone.

A focus on continuous delivery of the company’s products—including Zend Server, Zend Studio, and Zend Guard—has proven a key competitive advantage in today’s business climate. To ensure that customers have timely, accurate information about its products, even as new versions are released, Zend relies on MadCap Flare to deliver customized online documentation in both online desktop and Web formats, as well as and a format optimized for mobile access.

Screenshot of Zend Studio's Online Help Welcome Screen View Online Help
Zend Studio’s online help, published from MadCap Flare

Needed: A Tool to Transform

For years, Zend used Adobe® RoboHelp® to deliver its software documentation. However, as the company added more products, the technical communications team found it increasingly difficult to keep pace with Zend’s product releases. Zend then realized it was time to look for a new publishing solution that would allow the company to streamline processes, effectively manage multiple outputs, and take its online system to the next level.

“Zend has multiple products with multiple releases during the year,” explained Daniel Berman, Zend Technologies technical communicator. “Each product has hundreds of pages of documentation, so we needed an easy solution that would help us build and manage this content.”

After evaluating leading technical communications products on the market, Zend determined that MadCap Flare was the clear choice based on its single-source publishing capability, ease-of-use, and potential to advance Zend’s online system.

Screenshot of a sample topic from Zend Server
Example Zend Server help topic

Speeding the Learning Curve

As soon as Zend brought in MadCap Flare, the company quickly began taking advantage of both MadCap support and the broader MadCap community, shortening the team’s learning curve and gaining deeper insights into Flare’s capabilities.

“MadCap has a fantastic online user community that shares insightful experiences and tips for making the most of its tools,” Daniel explains. “We've never encountered any serious issues with Flare, and MadCap support and forums are so active and responsive, we know that we can quickly find a solution for any problem we might encounter.”

Working with Flare also has helped Zend learn new technical skills, including how to work with HTML5 and cascading style sheets (CSS).

“Before using Flare, I only had a rudimentary knowledge of HTML5 and CSS,” Daniel recalled. “Flare helped me get started with those languages, improve my capabilities, learn new skills and successfully ramp up to the next level.”

Screenshot of slideshow with a video display from the Zend Server online help
Zend Server help topic with video links and slideshow

Designing a Sleek and Sophisticated System

Today both cascading style sheets and HTML5 play an important role in enhancing the appearance of Zend’s content, as well as the processes around creating and publishing it.

“Using style sheets created with Flare, which are based on targets, we have the creative freedom to produce the exact customized look and feel we want for our updated system,” Daniel says.

“Flare's orientation on CSS and options for target customization let us dig deeper into the design and development of our online system,” Daniel explains. “Since Flare is so intuitive, it was easy to learn how to work with HTML5 skins to achieve the style we wanted for our content.”

Screenshot of the glossary menu from the Zend Server help system
Glossary menu in Zend Server's online help

Streamlining Content Delivery

Equally important, target management and single-source publishing capabilities in Flare allow Zend to deliver specific content to multiple audiences. Using Flare, the company not only publishes online content and WebHelp, it also has expanded its targets to include mobile output.

“The mobile output capability in Flare attracted me most to the tool, because it provided the opportunity to develop a whole new dimension for our system,” Daniel noted.

“In this day and age, people want to access information quickly and easily. More often, our users are away from the computer but need to access our online system,” Daniel explained. “Flare's mobile output enables us to deliver on customer expectations, so they can get the information they need anytime, anywhere.”

Looking Ahead

Having developed an effective system for delivering its online documentation, optimized and customized for access via computers and laptops, and now also via mobile devices—all from the same source content, Zend is looking into new ways to enhance its user experience even further.

“Flare has truly transformed the way we deliver content to our users,” Daniel says. “We are committed to creating the most meaningful customer experience possible, and we’re excited at the thought of how we can continue to evolve our system using Flare.”

Currently, Zend is looking into using Flare to transition from the look of traditional Help found on the Web to one of state-of-the-art website that works more like a search engine.

“It's a parallel effort that we're feeling out right now,” Daniel notes. “We are overjoyed to have a powerful tool like Flare on our side, which allows us to strengthen our current system while simultaneously exploring new opportunities for growth.”