madcap_logo_2010.JPGXML-based technical authoring tool provider MadCap (news, site) is back with a pretty sizable load of updates. In addition to the newest releases of their product suites—MadPak and MadPak ML (multilingual)—their publishing software, Flare 6.0, has added support for authoring to mobile devices.  

MadCap’s Afire

That’s right, MadCap Flare 6.0 allows for native publishing of technical documentation to mobile devices running on Windows Mobile, Android, or any other mobile platform. And, as MadCap says, the Web-based XHTML output is optimized to “squeeze every bit of performance out of low-bandwidth connections.”

Additionally, MadCap is launching Blaze 3.0, an XML-based alternative to Adobe FrameMaker. Both Flare 6.0 and Blaze 3.0 are equipped with a new PDF XSL-FO processor for dynamically displaying PDF content.

“Authors need to ensure that anyone reading their documentation can access it wherever and whenever they need it,” said Anthony Olivier, MadCap’s co-founder and CEO. “Today, with mobile devices becoming such an important source of information delivery, users need to access content and documentation there as easily as they do via their desktops, laptops or print documents. With the enhancements to Flare 6.0 and Blaze 3.0, we’ve extended our commitment to supporting all the channels that users rely on for information into the mobile world, as well as expanding our rich Web and print content delivery.”

Workflow, Collaboration and Publishing Help

Here’s a succinct look at other perks you can expect to find within Flare 6.0:

  • File Tagging: This feature allows project managers to assign customized tags to files. A reporting engine allows managers to then pull reports based on those tags, creating faster workflow and better organization.
  • Link Viewer: This is a new data view that can be opened to see all the files linking to a topic, all files linked from a topic, and current targets using a topic.
  • Batch Generate: Once authors have set the batch they want to generate, they can save the settings as a new batch target type for future use.
  • Usability: MadCap’s usability enhancements are typical—one or two clicks to get jobs done vs. a handful. Features include the user interface, template processes, the skin editor, file imports and merges, source control, context menus, index and concept views, the target editor, and the WYSIWYG editor.

Sweet Suite

Wait, there's still more. In addition to Flare, the MadPak suite includes X-Edit for content contribution and collaboration, Analyzer for reporting and analysis, Mimic for software simulation movies, Capture for screen capture and graphics editing; and Echo for audio. Significant updates have been made to X-Edit, Analyzer and Echo:

  • X-Edit 2.0 is designed for "casual" contributors, allowing them to create short documents, edit Flare or Blaze projects, and review technical authors’ topics. The newest version adds the ability to set up the review of multiple topics simultaneously.
  • Analyzer 3.0 identifies issues within in Flare or Blaze projects (broken links, missing images, etc.), then recommends corrections and improvements. Version 3.0 adds support for Flare 6.0, as well as the new Link Viewer feature also found in Flare.
  • Echo 2.0 lets authors add audible instructions, soundtracks, podcasts, etc. The newest version also includes the ability to export Echo audio files to WAV or MP3.

Meanwhile, MadPak ML includes all the products in the MadPak suite in addition to MadCap Lingo, an integrated authoring and translation memory tool for the translation of content.


We know it's a lot, and there's still stuff we left out, but you can get the big picture here, or get your hands dirty by checking out the free trials.