MadCap Fires Up DITA with Flare 5.0 and Blaze 2.0
For MadCap (news, site), it looks like the Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) initiative is still a go. The company, a software provider with a serious thing for integrated applications of the content management variety, first announced its support of DITA late last year.

This week, MadCap unveiled proof of that support in the form of updated versions of two of their offerings: MadCap Flare 5.0 and MadCap Blaze 2.0. According to the company, the newest versions of Flare and Blaze are” the first authoring software products to support transformation and publishing from the DITA standard—without requiring Java development or third-party toolkits…”

Let’s take a look, shall we?

Speaking the Right Lingo

MadCap’s Flare 5.0 and Blaze 2.0 join Lingo 2.0, another offering from MadCap, in the company’s quest for the ultimate DITA championship title. That is, MadCap plans to extend the standard to its entire family of content authoring software over the course of 2009.

So, what’s the deal with DITA? Just ask Anthony Olivier, MadCap’s co-founder and CEO: “DITA is rapidly being adopted by enterprises as a standard XML-based architecture for authoring, producing, and delivering technical information. However, many initiatives are being hampered by the complexity of publishing DITA content and integrating it with existing content,” he says. “With MadCap Flare 5.0 and Blaze 2.0, enterprises now have two powerful publishing solutions that provide unprecedented ease-of-use to facilitate DITA standardization, as well as collaborate with business groups relying on more traditional content formats.”

Feeding the DITA Fire

First, for a quick review on exactly what the heck this typing architecture we keep referring to is, check one of our previous posts here.

Flare 5.0 and Blaze 2.0 can both reportedly import DITA maps and associated DITA topic files at the same time. Additionally, MadCap touts their ability to transform and publish the content in other traditional outputs, such as Microsoft XPS and Word, Adobe PDF, Adobe FrameMaker, and plain XHTML.

Flare and Blaze also allow users to mix and match DITA content with other existing content within a single project. MadCap offers the example of both products importing a DITA map, three Word documents and a FrameMaker file, and then publishing the content without changing any of the formatting. Easy breezy.

There are a handful of other key features of the DITA support in both Flare 5.0 and Blaze 2.0, but let’s take a look at the ones that focus on editing and global project linking:

  • Advanced global project linking now includes condition tag support. Multiple projects can attain a consistent look and feel through links to a master Flare or Blaze project and the use of conditional markers. Whenever there is a change in the master project, for example an updated logo or style sheet, the change is automatically propagated to the “child” projects.
  • Text redaction helps legal groups and government organizations to conceal sensitive information from a document so that it may be distributed to a broader audience. Flare and Blaze meet the legal requirements for redacted text to exist under the black bar. The use of condition tags makes it easy for authors to specify that when a document is published internally, it appears as normal text, and when it is published for a broader audience, the text is blacked out.
  • A new text editor supports line numbering and color-coding for authors who want to view or work within the XML code.
  • Enhanced cross-product integration is enabled by support by Flare and Blaze for condition tags in MadCap Capture for image capture and graphics editing. 

“Like DITA, Flare and Blaze are based on XML and take a topic-based approach, which has made the addition of DITA support a natural extension to our authoring software,” said Mike Hamilton, MadCap vice president of product management. “Not only have we been able to incorporate the key concepts required to support the DITA standard, we’ve also been able to extend powerful DITA.

Phase Three – Collaboration Station

MadCap says their next phase will involve adding DITA support to its forthcoming MadCap Team Server. As we previously noted, this addition will make it possible to manage and share DITA content across teams and projects, as well as schedule DITA publishing.

It looks like they’ve been on the ball so far, ey? If you want to take the next step and talk money, check out the pricing information for both Flare and Blaze here