Project Showcase Webinar on Madcap Flare SEO

In September, I joined a college of mine and the folks at Madcap Software for a Project Showcase. The topic? Madcap Flare SEO for webhelp projects. The webinar will show you how Bomgar created search-engine-friendly webhelp using the Madcap Flare HTML5 target and Bootstrap.

Before we adopted Flare, our technical writing team used Adobe InDesign and Microsoft Word. But with multiple annual software releases and translations, that approach was not working. We moved to Flare to single-source all of our print documentation. Flare certainly streamlined the documentation process. Single-sourcing dramatically improved productivity, and we were able to make even more PDF guides.

Webhelp, in the beginning anyway, was an afterthought. But over the past few years, we’ve seen impressive SEO gains from publishing our webhelp the way we have. We took an innovative – somewhat daring – approach to Flare’s WebHelp Targets. The result was this docs site for our remote support software.

Bomgar Webhelp

Bomgar’s webhelp uses Madcap Flare’s HTML5 target and Bootstrap

I know what you’re thinking – “This doesn’t look like a Flare target I’ve seen before.” Although it does look considerably different from traditional WebHelp target, it is one. It functions much like a standard website. And we still get the benefit of single-sourcing with Flare.

If you want to learn how we did it, watch the Project Showcase Webinar

18 comments for “Project Showcase Webinar on Madcap Flare SEO

  1. Brice
    September 20, 2013 at 11:14 am

    Quick Question for you. What method did you use to remove the Flare skin? whenever I try to generate an output, Flare automatically adds the default skin.

    • September 20, 2013 at 11:47 am

      Thanks for commenting! Yes, Flare does create the default skin when it generates the output. But I just ignore it. For Flarestrap, the webhelp starts at the index.htm topic rather than the Default.htm page. You can upload everything but the skin files to your test server. Or you can have your webmaster 301 redirect the Default.htm page to index.htm. The latter is what I do. Hope that helps.

      • Brice
        September 20, 2013 at 12:03 pm

        I think so, I’ll have to do some experimenting and see what works best for our case. Very impressive project by the way, I’m hoping flare will support this sometime in the future.

  2. September 24, 2013 at 11:49 am

    I’ve seen the site before and often wondered how it was achieved. When I spoke to MadCap about it, even they were unsure about how you avoided the skin. I’m going to take a look at your webinar shortly.

    Impressive work!

    • September 24, 2013 at 11:52 am

      Thank you! In the webinar, it may come across that we’re using the Webhelp Mobile output. While we did use that output initially, we are now using the HTML5 output. Just keep that in mind. Hope you enjoy the webinar.

      • September 24, 2013 at 11:56 am

        I’m just waiting on the link to arrive. Have I understood this right – in essence, you just used Flare to create the site as a regular web site and then ditched the TOC and the skin? I’ve played around with DIVs in Flare and have got them to work for layouts, but have never managed to figure out how to add a menu structure. But then I don’t know java, which may be the stumbling block.

  3. November 21, 2013 at 8:31 am

    Hi Justin!
    Thanks for sharing this. And your webinar gave me a lot of ideas… One question though, and you may not know the answer: any idea as to how using such a framework would affect CSH?
    Will experiment with the sample project asap…

    • Shuli Finkelstein
      December 10, 2014 at 2:55 am

      Hi. Did you ever get a reply to this question?

  4. Larry Kluger
    December 11, 2013 at 12:22 am

    Hi Justin,
    Excellent work! All of the non-docs portions of my new DevPortal will be using Shoestrap, which uses Bootstrap underneath. I’m glad that I found your flarestrap work, I’m working on using it as part of our move to Flare. Congratulations on the project and your Bomgar site.

    Any idea why changing the MasterPage makes the build take so much longer?

    I like the HTML5 skin’s TOC and auto-synchronization of the TOC with the content. For now, our content will be staying in Word, so I plan to look into adding the regular TOC pane into a Bootstrap overall page.


    • December 12, 2014 at 10:00 am

      We narrowed the time delay down to external links. If Flare thinks you’re linking to a file outside of the project, build time will slow dramatically. In the next version of Flarestrap, I’ll eliminate all external links.

  5. February 26, 2014 at 10:34 am

    Thanks for the presentation, this is an elegant solution. Do you use Flare-generated TOCs for the navigation snippets, or are both or either of them hand-coded?

    • December 12, 2014 at 10:01 am

      The first version uses hand-coded lists of links. In the next version, I want to attempt to use TOCs.

      • December 12, 2014 at 10:17 am

        Check out Dave Lee’s sample project in the forum. He has successfully converted the TOC into a list that can then be used with a css stylesheet and/or jscript/query to use a stylish menu in place of the TOC. I have tried it with a pure CSS menu and got it to work. (I confess that I did get a mate to create a little app to convert the TOC to html for me, rather than mess about with command lines).

        • December 12, 2014 at 10:19 am

          Who’s your mate? And can I have one of the Apps? :-)

          • December 12, 2014 at 10:24 am

            His name’s Gordon Hayes. He is a software developer and he just took what Dave Lee had done and made it into a simple interface. If you send me an email, I will ask him if you can have a copy and then dropbox it to you. Contact me on linkedin if you can’t get my address elsewhere…we are already connected.

  6. December 12, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Just a thought…but for those who need context-sensitive help, a better option might be to keep Flare’s skin, but hide it. Google will index content in iframes these days (certainly in Flare 9 and 10 – I did some experiments with a MadCap developer and the content was indexed). Whether that allows you to rank highly in competitive searches, I’m not sure.

    Taking the content outside of the skin does run the risk of making certain features and MadCap add-ons potentially unusable. I created a help system with a footer at the bottom of the help, outside of the master page and skin and was told it could cause issues with Madcap’s social commenting package (whatever that is called).

    Oh for the day when MadCap ditch iframes and give us a pure css output that is easy to manipulate.