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Leading Provider Of Music Software Replaces Print Product Guides With Interactive Online Help Based On MadCap Flare

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MakeMusic, Inc., a World Leader in Music Software, Uses Flare to Publish Intuitive, Context-Sensitive Help on the Web

La Jolla, CA, USA – June 22, 2011 – MadCap Software, Inc., the leader in multi-channel content authoring and a showcase company for Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) Visual Studio and Microsoft XPS, today announced that MakeMusic, Inc. (NASDAQ: MMUS) is using MadCap Flare to create and publish Help on the Web. With the delivery of dynamic, context-sensitive online Help based on Flare, MakeMusic has eliminated the need to produce lengthy print product guides for its popular Finale® and SmartMusic® software.

“In the past, Finale was supported by five volumes of print documentation,” said Mark Maronde, SmartMusic project coordinator. “Now with our Flare-based online Help systems in place, Finale simply comes with a small printed quick reference guide, and there’s no print documentation for SmartMusic at all.”

For more than two decades, MakeMusic has been a leading provider of music software, including Finale, the world standard for music notation software, and SmartMusic, the award-winning interactive application for enriching music practice. Today, more than 2.5 million musicians, composers, arrangers, teachers and students use MakeMusic products.

In the past, MakeMusic used a legacy authoring tool to publish print documentation for Finale and SmartMusic. By moving to Web-based Help, MakeMusic aimed to provide customers with a dynamic, intuitive system for answering their questions. MakeMusic first used MadCap Flare to convert its Finale product guide to an online Help system. More recently, the success of the Finale Help system led MakeMusic to adopt Flare for the SmartMusic Help system as well.

“We were going through a major rewrite of our SmartMusic software with a completely new user interface, and we saw an opportunity to rethink our approach to Help,” recalls Maronde. “When I heard from my counterpart on the Finale team about how Flare was helping them, it was an easy decision to upgrade to Flare, too.”

MadCap Flare’s topic-based approach and support for context-sensitive Help have played particularly important roles in the development of the new SmartMusic Help system. Using Flare, MakeMusic has created a series of topics that address common customer questions. The team also has wired context-sensitive Help IDs into the MakeMusic application, so that when users click on a specific term or feature in the software, it automatically opens up the relevant page in the Flare Help system. Additionally, the SmartMusic Flare Help system portal includes a search field where users can enter keywords to search for topics.

“With our Flare-based Help, we’re providing several ways for people to solve their problems as quickly as possible,” Maronde notes. “And unlike our previous tool, Flare enables users to get the same results, no matter what browser they use.”

Another goal for MakeMusic has been to synchronize the online Help system with the interactive knowledge base and forums managed by the company’s technical support and customer service teams.

“The knowledge base typically features topical articles that are constantly changing, but when the content can be applied more broadly, it’s easy to add it to our Help system,” Maronde says. “I simply copy and paste HTML content from the knowledge base into Flare and then apply the template to it.”

Flare’s functionality also has made it easy to enhance the user’s visual experience, including the ability to integrate videos that Maronde has developed, and match the Help system’s look to that of the SmartMusic application.

“We had the artist who created the user interface for SmartMusic also design the SmartMusic Help page. I then implemented it in Flare using a little Javascripting,” Maronde recalls. “It looks consistent and it’s really appealing.”

Initially there was a learning curve with Flare, but Maronde says the light bulb went on for him when he was reading the HTML and XML guides and came to the explanations of style sheets that were separate from content and how to use cascading style sheets. He notes, “MadCap has done a really good job of organizing extremely deep functionality with Flare. Everything seems to be in the right place, and managing different output targets is very easy.”

Perhaps one of the most significant changes is how quickly MakeMusic can revise its Help content using Flare. In the past, print documentation would be updated once or twice a year at most. By contrast, the Web-based Help is typically updated every other week. Some of these changes are based on minor technical updates, but others are influenced by Google analytics of Web hits to the Help system, which identify the topics that are currently most important to customers.

“Now we know when the customer cares more about download issues than microphone issues,” Maronde explains. “The ability to respond to that knowledge and dynamically update Web content with Flare is just fantastic. It ensures that we’re giving customers the information they need when they need it.”

“As one of the world’s premier music software providers, MakeMusic understands that the quality of the customer’s experience with its applications is tightly linked with how effectively the Help systems enable a user to take advantage of them,” said Anthony Olivier, MadCap Software founder and CEO. “We are thrilled by MakeMusic’s success in using the next-generation capabilities of our native XML MadCap Flare for authoring and publishing dynamic, interactive Help content on the Web. We look forward to supporting MakeMusic as the company continues to innovate new ways to create a superior customer experience.”

About MakeMusic, Inc.

MakeMusic®, Inc. is a world leader in music technology whose mission is to develop and market solutions that transform how music is composed, taught, learned and performed. For more than 20 years, Finale® has been the industry standard in music notation software, enabling composers, arrangers, musicians, teachers, students and publishers to create, edit, audition, print and publish musical scores. MakeMusic is also the creator of SmartMusic® interactive software that is transforming the way students practice. With SmartMusic, students and teachers have access to thousands of band, orchestra and vocal pieces allowing students to practice with background accompaniment and get immediate feedback on their performance. SmartMusic allows teachers to individualize instruction and document the progress of every student. Additional information about this Minnesota company can be found at www.makemusic.com.

About MadCap Software

MadCap Software, Inc. is a trusted resource for the thousands of companies around the globe that rely on its solutions for single-source multi-channel authoring and publishing, multimedia, and translation management. Whether delivering technical, policy, medical, marketing, business, or human resources content, MadCap’s products are used to create corporate intranets, Help systems, policy and procedure manuals, video tutorials, knowledge bases, eBooks, user guides, and more to any format, including high-end print, online, desktop or mobile. MadCap services include product training, consulting services, translation and localization, and an advanced developer certification program. Headquartered in La Jolla, California, MadCap Software is home to some of the most experienced software architects and product experts in the content development industry.


MadCap Software, the MadCap Software logo, and MadCap Flare, are trademarks or registered trademarks of MadCap Software, Inc., in the United States and/or other countries. All other trademarks and registered trademarks are the properties of their respective owners.