How to ‘Chunk’ Content with MadCap Flare

Mike Hamilton on the MadCap blog wrote an excellent tutorial on how to chunk content. We’ve covered this subject before, especially when looking at information architecture and how to write for the web. What’s interesting about Mike’s article is how he uses conditional markers to do this in MadCap Flare.

Chunking Content for User Roles

Mike explains that, ‘Selectively including or excluding content using conditional markers is something that most Flare authors are accustomed to. However, you may find yourself in a situation where you don’t necessarily want to actually remove content, but you need to provide users a way to customize the display of that content to fit their user role or perhaps their version. Two great ways of doing this are the use of drop down text and/or the use of togglers.’

Using Drop Down Text

You can use this when the information lends itself to large contiguous chunks. He adds that, ‘If you can write the topic so that the top four paragraphs are the common information, the next three paragraphs are specific to the basic version, and then the final six paragraphs are specific to the advanced version, then drop down text is perfect. Just set the three basic paragraphs as a “basic” drop down element and then set the last six paragraphs as an “advanced” drop down element and you are all set.’

As most technical documentation projects use contiguous blocks of information, you can use togglers as an alternative.

Togglers

Think of toggler links as a link anywhere on the page that shows any other information on the page that the author selects.

For instance, one toggler can:

  • Show/hide fifteen paragraphs
  • Eight bullet items, and
  • Three images spread all over the topic.

By using multiple toggler links you can provide controls so that users can tailor the topic content to their own needs.

You can read the rest of Mike’s article here: Two Ways to Chunk Content for User Roles using MadCap Flare

Other Ways to Chunk Content

This raises an interesting question. How do other Technical Writers chuck content, especially those who don’t use Flare.

Create conditional text in Adobe FrameMaker may be one solution.

Any ideas?

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