I stumbled across a cool feature in MadCap Flare v3.1 the other day. I doubt this is a new feature; rather, it is one I just didn’t know about.
There are several ways to create links in Flare, some easier than others. Normally, you would just chose an insertion point in your topic, then from the Insert menu, click Insert Hyperlink (or you could use the Ctrl+K key combination).
Today I want to talk about the following link creation shortcuts:
- Dragging links
- Context menu linking
If you want to insert a link from one Flare topic into another topic, the quickest way to add the link is to drag the target topic from the Content Explorer into the Topic in the XML editor.
Say you are editing TopicA.htm and you want to link to TopicB.htm. Open TopicA.htm in the XML editor. Find TopicB.htm in the Content Explorer. Drag TopicB.htm from the Content Explorer into the XML editor, dropping it where you want the link to appear. A dialog box will allow you to modify the settings for the link. Click OK and the link is inserted into your topic.
This is especially useful if you are linking to a topic in a different folder in the Content Explorer, since using the Insert Hyperlink dialog box to locate a file in a different directory is kind of a pain.
If you want to add a hyperlink to text that already exists in your topic, you can highlight the text, and then find the target file in the Content Explorer, and drag it to the highlighted text. The highlighted text will turn red before you drop the link on it, so you know it has been selected. You will see the Insert Hyperlink dialog box. Click OK and the highlighted text is changed to a link.
I only wish there were an easy way to make these into cross-references, instead of hyperlinks. What I’d like to see here is a Ctrl+drag combination or a right-click+drag combination that would insert a cross-reference to the topic, rather than a hyperlink. I guess I’ll submit a feature request.
Context menu linking
There are several options in the context menu for inserting hyperlinks and cross-references. (Unfortunately these don’t work properly when you are modifying text the MadCap:Drop-down-body element.)
When you are working in a topic in the XML editor, you can use the Context Menu to quickly create links and cross-references; the process is the same for both.
The Quick Link and Quick Cross-Reference options allow you to easily link to topics in the same folder, topics that are open, or bookmarks in the current document.
To use the Quick Link / Quick Cross-Reference functions, open your topic in the XML editor. Right click at the location where you want to insert the link (or cross-reference). The context menu appears (shown above).
For Quick Links, you can insert a link to a bookmark, a topic in the same folder, a new topic (that you will create by selecting this option), or to any topic in the project (a window will appear so you can browse to the topic).
For Quick Cross-References, you can insert a cross-reference to a bookmark, a topic in the same folder, or an open document.
Often, when I’m creating a cross-reference to a topic in a different folder, I’ll open the topic I want to cross-reference to, then open the source topic and insert a quick cross reference. The only problem with this method is that you don’t see the Insert Cross-Reference window, so you can’t pick the cross reference properties. I have three different cross reference styles, and the Quick Cross-Reference feature uses the default one. (I actually don’t understand why this doesn’t work in parallel with links; when you insert a Quick Link, you get the Link Properties window, but when you insert a Quick Cross-Reference, you don’t get the Cross-Reference Properties window. )
There is your Flare tip on easy methods for inserting links and cross references—allowing you to author your help content more efficiently.