MadCap Software, a multi-channel content authoring and showcase company for Microsoft Visual Studio and Microsoft XPS, released MadCap Flare 7.0 on February 28, its latest version of content authoring software. Making strides to conquer the limitations of print-only authoring software, MadCap Flare 7.0 condenses mobile, web, and print features into what vice president of product managment Michael Hamilton refers to as a "one XML environment." With this new version emerging, MadCap is eliminating Blaze, the XML-based alternative to Adobe FrameMaker for long print documents.
"The move to focus on MadCap Flare reflects the natural evolution that we are seeing as more technical writing, customer service, call centers, and human resource departments turn away from print-only authoring tools such as Blaze and Adobe FrameMaker and toward more modern, all-in-one applications that can publish to multiple channels," said Anthony Olivier, MadCap founder and CEO.
There are a number of new capabilities provided by Flare, including the ability to create and publish Quick Response (QR) codes in print documents, tying these documents to the possibilities created by mobile and web technologies. Scanning a QR code in, say, a brochure with a mobile device will bring up whatever content has been linked to that code-such as a YouTube video. Or, you can simply link to the mobile or web version of the print content. "This takes it one step further allowing print documentation to be accessible in a mobile format or online," says Olivier.
Other new enhancements include improvements in graphic support. Up until now so much of XML publishing has focused on bitmap graphics. With the transition into high-end print, there is now support for both encapsulated postscript graphics and scalable vector graphics (SVG).
"Now people are free to add all of these vector graphics in all of their documentation and then when we do a print output they're maintained as vector graphics. When we do the web publishing, we have a configurable interface. It can be rasterized into something browser compatible, but you have total control over the process," says Hamilton.
In addition to graphics enhancement capabilities, many other functions have been changed for the Flare release. Hamilton says this is the first version of MadCap's authoring software to support integration with Microsoft SharePoint. While the use of SharePoint used to be limited to the sharing and collaboration on of few projects, the new features in Flare allows users to connect to SharePoint servers, which allows them to utilize various SharePoint capabilities within any project in Flare.
Other tools included in the 7.0 release include government accessibility standards; the alias editor, making it easier to connect the information from specific pages of public information to an application or a website; and and native Subversion support that eliminates the third party plug-in requirement..
Improving the usability of equations, the equation editor uses an embedded MathML editor, which accurately renders equations and generates a vector for any kind of print publishing in high resolution. Other changes, such as the implementation of track changes, have enhanced word processing features. "We brought some of those standard word processing type features into an XML world, but doing it in a way that is comfortable and transparent," says Hamilton.
Table enhancements too have emerged in this new XML environment. "We can now merge tables, split tables, not just cells but entire tables, sort on rows. All of the typical things you would expect in a word processor, but just hasn't been available in an XML editor."
By consolidating all of these tools into one piece of software, MadCap has made strides in a new, more efficient direction, making strides toward simplifying an increasingly confusing publishing industry. Olivier says, "Going forward we will continue to focus on innovations that create a rich experience whether users choose to access content on the web, on desktops, on mobile devices or in print."