Today MadCap Software announced the call for papers for the MadWorld 2015 WorldWide Learning Conference. You can read more and submit your proposals on the MadWorld 2015 Conference website.
You probably already know how powerful snippets are in MadCap Flare. They allow you to reuse chunks of content in various places in the same project. You can even include variations of snippets in different places in your project by using snippet conditions in the topics that use snippets.
However, there remains one frustrating issue with using snippets in a topic: linking to (or cross referencing to) content inside a snippet.
In a normal cross reference or link, you can use the Flare insert options to create the link. If you are linking to a heading, Flare will even insert the target anchor into the project, and the Insert dialog shows you all the headings in the target topic by default. However, when you use a snippet in the topic, Flare doesn’t look inside the snippets for bookmarks or headings, so using the normal Flare Insert dialog, you can’t create cross references or links to content that is inside the snippet.
This inhibits the usability of snippets, because users might decide to not use snippets when they would still be useful just so they can get links and cross references working to topics that contain snippets.
I discussed this issue with a good friend of mine, Daniel Ferguson, of Write Degree Communications. He’s a fellow Flare contractor (whose work I highly recommend) and he shared a way around this limitation. It involves some manual coding, but it seems to work.
Let’s say you have Topic A and Topic B. Topic B contains one snippet that has two H2 elements. You are working in topic A and want to create a cross reference to the second heading inside the snippet that is used in Topic B. Maybe this illustration will help.
So, what can you do to make this work?
Well, it turns out that the same code that works with regular links and cross references works with snippets, but you have to do the coding by hand.
There are three main steps: (1) Add the bookmark in the snippet; (2) Create the link or Cross Reference; (3) Test it.
Add the bookmark in the snippet
First, open the snippet file and locate the heading that you want to be able to link to. Click to insert your curser at the beginning of the heading. From Flare’s Insert ribbon, select Bookmark (it’s in the Link section).
Now, give the bookmark an easy name to remember, because you’re going to have to insert it manually again. When you’re finished, save the topic.
If you look at the XML of the snippet, you now have the following:
in context, it probably looks more like this:
<h2><a name=”TheNameYouChose”></a>It’s a brand new day</h2>
Now you’re ready for the next step.
Create the link or cross reference
This is where the manual work comes in. Because Flare won’t let you create the link using the UI, you are going to have to go into the code editor to do this. You can use Flare’s code editor (which is super awesome, starting with Flare 9), or another text editing tool; it doesn’t matter.
Open topic A (in my case, a.htm) in the text editor. Locate the place where you want to create the link or cross reference.
For a cross reference add the following code, adapting it for your specific circumstances:
For a link you can just do this:
<a href=”B.htm#TheNameYouChose”>whatever text should be the link</a>
Now you test it.
Make sure that topic A and topic B are in the TOC you’re building, and generate the output from Flare. Go check the link/xref. If it is a printed target, it should point you to the correct page. If it is an online target, the link should work.
A few notes
- Don’t try to edit this cross reference in Flare. It still won’t see the link, so it won’t let you save it as a valid cross reference.
- If you change the text of the target paragraph, Flare SHOULD change the text of the cross reference, like normally happens with cross references. You will want to check this to ensure it is happening, though, because just because it worked for me doesn’t necessarily mean it will work in all cases for you. This isn’t something that MadCap is testing when they do releases, so like in all software development, there are likely cases in which it won’t work. Just check your output to see that it did. (You can also go to the Tools ribbon, and click Update Cross References. That will let you verify that the text changed without building the output.)
- If you want to use a special type of cross reference, and have already created classes of XREF for this purpose, you can easily add them to the code. Add the class like you normally would IN THE CODE. Again, you can’t do this in the editor. For example, I have a class of XREF named “AtAGlance”. I would use that class like this:
<MadCap:xref href=”B.htm#TheNameYouChose” class=”AtAGlance”>See “It’s a brand new day”</MadCap:xref>
Good luck, and let me know if you run into any issues here. If you think this is something you’d like to see Flare support natively in the future, you’re welcome to submit this as a feature request on MadCap’s website (link).
Something that Ferg mentioned when we discussed this earlier that I totally agree with is how glad we are that Flare has an open architecture where you can go into the code to make these kinds of changes, when you need to extend some functionality that isn’t natively supported. We’ve both worked with other authoring tools that don’t give you access to the code, so you can’t make these kinds of edits. In fact, during professional training for another authoring tool, we asked the trainer how to get into the source to make modifications. The trainer looked at us and said, “You can’t. And why would you want to?” So thanks, MadCap, again for an outstanding tool in MadCap Flare.
Also, don’t forget to check out Write Degree Communications. Thanks again, Ferg, for helping me with this issue. If any of you are coming to MadWorld next month in San Diego, you can meet both me and Ferg there. We’re both looking forward to it.
Author’s note: This is a reprint of an article I originally published in the Spring (March) 2014 issue of ISTC Communicator on pages 33-35. I also published a review of Flare V10 the week of its release here on my blog.
If you are like many technical communicators, you probably spend quite a bit of time using your help authoring tool to generate content that others will read. If your tool is MadCap Flare, then you have probably heard the buzz surrounding the recent release of Flare V10. I was lucky to be one of the beta testers for Flare V10, so I’ve been trying it out for a couple of months, and I think you are going to be impressed with this version.
Released earlier this month, Flare V10 boasts several features that just might make you giddy. These days lists seem all the rage, and with Flare coming in with its tenth major version, it seems appropriate to give a list of ten reasons you are going to love Flare 10, ordered by my level of excitement about them.
Reason 1: Responsive output
It seems like everybody is talking about ‘responsive’ design these days, and many technical communicators have made bold attempts to make Flare output responsive.
If you have never heard of responsive design, you have seen it used on many websites including BBC News. It is that feature that makes a website adapt to the size of the browser window. This allows you to style your website for small screens (like phones), medium screens (like tablets), and large screens (like desktop or laptop screens). I won’t go into detail here, since that isn’t the focus of this article, but you should Google ‘responsive design’ to learn more about it[i],[ii].
While there is a technical difference between responsive design and adaptive design, I don’t make that distinction in this article. For our purposes, a responsive website is any site that provides different display rules for different sizes of devices.
In Flare V10, the HTML5 output has been adapted to provide a responsive design. There is no need to build a special mobile version of your output. To convert an existing HTML5 output to make it responsive, just open the skin and check the box to enable responsive design and republish your output.
Now, grab the bottom right corner of your browser window and drag it smaller. Notice that at a certain size, the left panel disappears and a menu button appears. This means your mobile and tablet users can now easily use your main site!
Of course, you can style these different views with custom settings, which leads me into our next awesome feature.
Reason 2: New Skin Editor
Flare V10 comes with a new HTML5 Skin Editor which makes creating and editing your skins dramatically easier. In previous versions of Flare, the Skin Editor acted a lot like the advanced view of the CSS Editor. Now the Skin Editor groups the style settings better, making changing styles much easier. In addition, there is a built-in preview window, so you can see what your changes look like as you are making them.
This new Editor will make editing skins easier and much more efficient, since you don’t have to preview every single change to ensure it is correct.
The new Editor also shows you the tablet and mobile media types, so you can change how the site looks to tablet and mobile phone browsers. When you are editing these media types, the preview switches to show a preview of the selected media so you don’t have to preview or look at the output on your tablet to see the styles applied.
Reason 3: Conditional filter in XML Editor
While the XML Editor does not seem to have dramatic changes, don’t miss the new button on the toolbar that allows you to filter the window based on conditions in your project.
If you use several conditions in your project, you are going to love this new feature. I have worked with clients who create custom version of their products for each customer. They often have some text or images that are specific to that client, and I managed those with conditions. The trouble is that the XML Editor can get cluttered with all those customisations for each client. Sometimes when I’m writing, I just want to see the content that matches a specific condition. Now you can, and it is wonderful.
Reason 4: Support for OpenType fonts
Typographers rejoice: Flare V10 now supports OpenType fonts (OTF) for both online and printed output.
In the past, due to a limitation in the code base upon which Flare is built, Flare did not support most OTF fonts. This meant contacting the foundry for a TrueType version of the font, or substituting the preferred font for a less-perfect substitute.
Now you can make your Marketing department happy by using the same fonts in the documentation that they use in the promotional material. Of course, if you want to use non-standard fonts in web output, you will still need to import them into the style sheet from a web location, but for printed output, you can declare any font installed on your computer.
(When working with fonts, be sure you comply with the font foundry’s licensing agreement! Embedding fonts in PDFs can require a special type of license, and in most cases you can’t post a licensed font on your webserver for your HTML output. Font foundries aggressively protect their intellectual property, and with good reason.)
Reason 5: Perforce integration
Flare V10 includes native support for Perforce source control. Flare now supports the following source control tools natively:
- Microsoft Team Foundation Server
- Microsoft Visual SourceSafe
In addition, you can also use a third party plugin to connect to other source control providers like CVS, IBM Rational ClearCase, and any other source control tool that uses the Microsoft Source Code Control API (SCC API).
It is nice to see MadCap broadening support for other source control platforms, since many writers don’t get to choose their platform; in many cases, writers are stuck with whatever tool the development team is already using.
Reason 6: Eclipse output
If you are a technical communicator in a software shop that uses the Eclipse Integrated Development Environment (Eclipse IDE), you’ll probably be pleased to know that Flare V10 has a new output type specifically built for Eclipse output.
Like the existing .NET output type, Eclipse output is targeted at a specific segment of software developers, but it makes it easy for technical communicators to create a help system in a plug-in format that is compatible with the Eclipse IDE. This also allows you to publish your content in a single JAR file.
Reason 7: Review enhancements
Those Flare customers who use MadCap Contributor will be pleased to see some enhancements with the way Flare works with MadCap Contributor.
Now, when you send a topic for review, if the topic includes a snippet, the snippet is automatically included in the review package. You can also send individual snippets for review.
Reviews can also have specific target variable definitions. This means that you can control which variable definition is sent with a topic that is being sent out for review.
Finally, if you have a topic that contains conditional text, you can specify which conditions to include or exclude in the review package. This makes it easier for reviewers to only see that content that they need to review, while hiding that content that they don’t need to see.
Reason 8: New customisations
Flare V10 includes several new ways for you to customise your content to make sending content much easier.
First, you can now create custom lists and reuse those list styles throughout your project. In the past, you had to create the settings for each level of list manually in the style sheet. Now, in the XML Editor you can customise your lists and their sub-lists without ever opening the style sheet.
Flare V10 also allows you to customise the date variables in Flare based on the Custom Date and Time Format Strings in the operating system.
Also, variables can now be assigned multiple definitions, and you can select which definition to use in a target.
Reason 9: Project-level enhancements
At the project level, Flare V10 includes several features to make importing and exporting content easier.
You can now quickly export a project, or even part of a project, to another location. This will allow you to archive a project, or portions of it, easily whilst allowing you to create copies of a project as the basis for a new project.
When exporting a project, you have several options including exporting based on targets, conditions or file tags. Flare even allows you to export a project as a template to your templates folder, thus making the project files become available as a template when you create a new project.
Additionally, you can now import HTML files into a new Flare project. In V10 the Import HTML Files wizard has been updated to better match the other import wizards in the system.
Reason 10: Many little enhancements
Creating and managing content in Flare has become easier, and – dare I say it – more fun in Flare V10. Here are some cool enhancements that will make your life easier:
- New Find and Replace is more ‘browser like’ and provides a count of the number of items found in a given file (and shows you the number you are on as you cycle through them in the file).
- New Crash Reporting System optionally allows you to send a report to MadCap when you run into an ‘unhandled exception’ error in Flare.
- Smart quotes can now be used in your system, if you turn them on (they are off by default). However, this doesn’t change any quotes in your existing content. You will need to go through a one-time conversion process to change your existing straight quotes to smart quotes.
- Frame breaks for printed output make sure you move from one frame to the next frame on the page. This means you can ensure your H1 headings stay in a specific frame, and content automatically starts in the main content frame on that printed page.
- You can now rotate text in body frames for printed output, allowing you, for example, to create headings that are rotated on the page.
- The XML Editor now shows the word count of the current topic in the topic status bar.
- Several features from the evolving CSS3 specification are now supported in the CSS Editor and outputs, including rounded corners and before/after pseudo classes. To be fair, you could do this manually in previous versions of Flare, but you had to add the code manually in the style sheet. These features not only work in online outputs, in browsers that support the CSS3 specification, but in PDF and XPS print outputs as well.
- MadCap has provided more than twenty design-ready templates you can use out-of-the-box to produce online and print outputs for deliverables such as brochures of all sizes, online knowledge bases, user manuals and more. This will be especially helpful for new Flare users who need a little extra help to get started or authors who do not have access to professional design resources.
- There is a new slideshow feature that creates a carousel on the online output page. You can add as many panels as you wish, and panels can include any HTML content. All slideshow content is removed from all print-based outputs.
I have always been a fan of Flare, and I think that Flare V10 is leap forward in terms of functionality and improved output for our customers and the users of our help systems. Responsive output and support for OpenType fonts are two excellent features that make this release a ‘must upgrade’ in my book.
Paul Pehrson, Senior Member, STC owns DocGuy Training, a consulting company that provides consulting and training services for MadCap Flare. Paul is a certified MadCap Advanced Developer, and is a certified Flare Trainer. His day job is as a technical author and engagement manager for Crossfuze Solutions. He lives in Utah, USA with his wife and four kids.
[i] Knight K (2011), ‘Responsive Web Design: What It Is and How To Use It’ Smashing Magazine
http://coding.smashingmagazine.com/2011/01/12/guidelines-for-responsive-web-design (accessed February 2014)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Responsive_web_design (accessed February 2014)
Many Flare users find that they want to create indented text for one reason or another. A classic example is when they want to include a code sample.
If you create a class of P called ‘code’ and apply it, you get all the code at the same level, like this:
<title>This is the title</title>
For readability, typically you want the text to have a couple of layers of indenting, like this:
<title>This is the title</title>
This is easy to do in CSS. You’re just adding a marin-left to indent the code. Where people make the mistake, however, is when they try too hard to solve this problem. I find this to be especially true for people who have come from a Framemaker background, because the solution I’m going to propose doesn’t work in Frame (last time I used Frame, which was, admittedly, a while ago).
So you are looking at your Flare styles (or, more generally, your CSS styles) and you decide that you need a class of ‘P’ for code. We’ll call it p.code.
Now you need to indent that, so you think that you need a class of ‘P’called p.codeindent. You give this class all the settings of p.code (since it can’t inherit from another class of ‘p’), and then you add a margin-left of (we’ll say) 20px.
To finish my example above, you’d need a third class of ‘P’ called p.codeindent2. You give this class all the settings of p.code (again, can’t inherit these styles), then you add a margin-left of 40px.
This gets hard to manage awfully quickly, especially since your settings may be different in your Print media section in your style sheet. Here is what that looks like in Flare:
The best solution is much, much easier than all of that.
Instead of adding extra classes for every class of p that might need an indent at some point in your project’s life, create one style in your style sheet: div.indent, and then give that div a margin-left of 20px. Because of the magic of margins being added in CSS, if you need to indent two levels, you add another div.
Here is what that looks like in Flare:
Notice the two DIV elements. Those divs have a class of “indent”, which, when nested, adds the margin to the child elements. The beauty is that I can do this anywhere in my project with any child elements, and I can nest as many DIVs as I need to indent the content.
Now imagine that Marketing comes back and says “All your indents are too small. The new standard is 30px for each level.” Great. You just go into div.indent and change that ONE style, and all your indents are fixed.
Using the old method, you have to go into every level of every style and make the indents match. That method is a headache to maintain, difficult to update (especially for a new user in your project), and is inelegant.
The div solution is easy to maintain and update, and is elegant because of how many lines of code this will save you in your stylesheet.
Update – March 17 2014 – The article I wrote for ISTC’s Communicator journal is now reproduced in this article on my blog.
I’ve been an early tester of Flare V10, so I’ve had my hands on it for the last couple of months, and I’m thrilled to be able to talk publicly about some of the amazing features in Flare V10. I have a forthcoming article in a European tech comm journal, and I don’t want to give away what is in that article, but today I want to take a minute to share with you some of my favorite V10 features.
First and foremost, Flare V10 has added responsive layout to the HTML5 target. This means that with minimal work on your part, your content can adapt to the size of the screen that is displaying the content. The Flare V10 HTML5 target includes media sections for different screen sizes, so when a tablet user views your website, they get a customized view for tablets, and when a smart phone user views your website, they get a further customized view for small screens. So, you don’t have to generate specific output for mobile outputs, which is a beautiful concept. You only have to produce one output, instead of three (computer, tablet, phone).
(Here is a hint: if you just upgraded to Flare 10 and want to see the responsiveness of HTML5’s updated output, there is a setting in the HTML5 target that you need to enable to build responsive output. In the Project Organizer, open the Skins folder, and open an HTML5 skin. On the Setup tab, there is a “Responsive Output” section. Check the box to enable responsive output. If desired, change the dimensions when responsive output is triggered. (This means any viewport/device with a resolution BELOW what you set will see the “responsive” version of the webhelp, and any viewport/device with a resolution ABOVE what you set will see the standard HTML5 desktop view.)
Flare V10 includes a new skin editor that gives you a lot of control over how your output will look at different sizes, with built-in live preview of the changes you’re making in the style editor. If you’ve used the Skin editor in earlier versions of Flare, you were probably like me: I would make a small change, then click the “Preview” button to launch the skin in a browser so I could see what it looked like. Thankfully those days are gone, at least for HTML5 users. You can now preview your skin changes live in the editor, which will make editing skins much faster and more convenient.
I’m quite excited as well about the new templates that are included in Flare V10. There are a wide variety of templates to choose from, including many non-traditional templates like multi-page spreads for pamphlets and such. I actually haven’t tested these out yet, but they look very cool.
This release of Flare also includes functionality to support more OTF fonts in various output types. This is great news, and will dramatically improve your ability to make your technical publications meet the Marketing Department’s design guidelines. I know clients who will begin using this feature, literally, this week.
Another feature I’m excited about is a little button in the XML editor that allows you to filter the XML editor window based on conditions. If you work with a lot of conditions, this feature is absolutely amazing. In one of my projects, I was actually creating content in snippets and applying conditions in the snippets, then importing those snippets into topics (with snippet conditions applied)—just so I could see what the topic looked like with only certain conditions applied. Now I can work in the topics themselves with and see just the content that will be included when I switch conditions. This filter is absolutely amazing, and for those of us who use conditions extensively, this is reason enough to upgrade to Flare 10.
There are a slew of other features to love in Flare 10, but this is a version I’d upgrade to, even if I had to pay for it myself. It’s a dramatic improvement in what was already an excellent product. When my article in the UK journal is published later this month, I’ll include a link at the bottom of this post.
So, what is your favorite feature in Flare 10? Let’s discuss in the comments below.
After you have worked on a Flare project (or any project that uses CSS) for a while, you may find that your CSS stylesheet becomes a little complex. One of the wonderful things about CSS is that when editing the CSS stylesheet in code view (not in the Flare editor) you can re-define the attributes of an element at the bottom of your CSS stylesheet, without having to locate the actual element. The settings further down override the ones that come before. Pretty simple, right?
Here’s the problem: the CSS gets funky really fast. I was working on a project today where the writer apparently pasted in the bulk of the CSS twice at the end of the CSS stylesheet. Each section had subtle differences. Thus, H1 was styled with different definitions in three separate locations in the CSS. You couldn’t make changes in the Flare CSS editor, because Flare only edits the FIRST element, so the changes I was saving in Flare weren’t being applied to my topics.
I found a website that solved this problem for me. It’s called Devilo.us, and it is a tool that compresses and cleans up your CSS file. You can point it at a URL, or you can paste in your CSS directly. It will compress multiple instances of the same element into a single CSS statement, using the property valus that were last used in the original CSS document. It will generate a file you can download, or generate it onto the webpage so you can copy and paste it into your CSS.
Of course you will want to back up your CSS stylesheet before you make a major change like this, just in case things don’t go like you expect, but I found this to be a painless solution to the problem of CSS stylesheets that had gotten out of hand.
I was looking at my website analytics today and I found the following interesting things:
Here is the split on browsers used to access my site:
Here is the mobile/desktop/tablet split:
Here is the operating system split:
So the majority of you are Windows users who read the site from their desktop computers using the Chrome web browser, however the number of you who access the site on a tablet or mobile device is still a significant 25%. This tells me that I need to make sure my site is accessible and readable across all these platforms so no matter how you access my site, you see information that you can interact and engage with.
Do you find any of these numbers interesting? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Every time I provide MadCap Flare training, there are a couple of books I recommend for all my students. Probably the most important one is the book “Steps Five Steps to MadCap Flare” by Lorraine Kupka. In my opinion, this book is essential reading for anybody who is new to Flare and wants a great head start. I think that even veteran Flare users can use it as a reference to help them with some of those project-level tasks that you may not entirely remember between product releases. The information in the book is well thought out, well organized, and helps you through the entire publication process from project inception to deliverable distribution.
I was given an advance copy of the book’s first edition, and at the time I gave the following review:
“Five Steps to MadCap Flare is a must-have for any serious Flare user. If you’re just starting out, Five Steps will give you the confidence and direction you need to keep going. Even expert users will find useful tips and tricks in these pages. Whether used as a reference or training book, Five Steps has essential information you need to make using Flare easier.”
The two editions released since I wrote that review have only served to make the book even more valuable to me as a trainer and a Flare user. Before Five Steps was initially released, I had considered writing a book on Flare, because I felt like there weren’t any great Flare reference books available. Then I read Five Steps and I realized that Lorraine (and Joy Underhill, who helped with the first two editions of the book) had written the book I wanted to write. It filled the niche perfectly.
In Five Steps you’ll get a step-by-step approach to working in Flare. Thus, if you are a novice Flare user, you can start at the beginning and work through the logical procedure to get a project from inception to completion. Early chapters introduce you to Flare and it’s basic concepts like targets, topics, and topic-based authoring. Then the book takes you through the following five steps:
- Get Started
- Learn the XML Editor
- Develop Content
- Create Navigational Aids
- Create Output
Here are some highlights from the different steps:
- Step one includes a comprehensive roadmap to help you understand the scope of what is necessary to create a project. The roadmap helps you understand where you are getting your content from, how you need to manipulate it, and what you need to do to publish it.
- Step two gives a lot of detailed information about how the XML editor in Flare works, and what you need to know about interacting with it, grouped into nine tasks.
- Step three goes beyond just the obvious parts of creating content (type in the xml editor; insert pictures) and include tips on using the ribbon buttons to get the most flexibility out of lists and tables. It shows you how to format your content so your output looks professional, and gives a lot of information about working with Flare styles (which are controlled by CSS style sheets).
- Step four helps you create TOCs that present your content in a specific order for a particular audience, how to work with links and bookmarks, and how to work with online and printed indexes.
- Step five walks you through the process of creating print and online outputs, from start to finish.
The appendices are also full of tons of useful information including planning worksheets for working in your project, help on importing existing content into Flare, information on context-sensitive help, using Flare’s reporting options, help on single-sourcing content, working with DITA, and even help for ePub output — that’s 9 appendices spanning almost 150 pages!
If you haven’t already purchased Five Steps to MadCap Flare, I recommend it. It is a book I keep on my desk for reference, because it is the most comprehensive and up-to-date MadCap Flare guide around. I highly recommend it.
“Five Steps to MadCap Flare” is published by Fiddlehead Publications, a division of NorthCoast Writers Inc. For ordering information, please visit http://www.northcoastwriters.com/fiddleheadpubs/. Fiddlehead Publications provided the blog author with a complimentary electronic copy of “Five Steps to MadCap Flare”, third edition, for the purposes of this review.
Last week I announced a new MadCap Flare training initiative called MiniMad that I’m offering here on my website. I think this is an exciting new option for people to receive the specific kind of training they want when they are at the point that they are ready for it.
Here are some questions I anticipate you may have, and their answers.
What is a MiniMad training?
MiniMad training classes are short, live training classes to help you learn something specific about MadCap Flare. (Depending on the response, I may branch out into other MadCap products in the future.) This training is provided via web conference. Like a standard training class, participants will receive some training material and training files related to the specific course they are taking. I will present the training live, taking questions as I go, and will give participants exercises to complete as the class progresses. This will give participants a hands-on opportunity to use the presented material and ask questions about it to address areas where they need additional clarification.
Is the class size limited?
Yes. Class sizes for 1 hour courses are limited to four registrants. Class sizes for other courses is limited to six registrants.
How is this different than a webinar?
In a traditional webinar, the presenter speaks in lecture mode. Participants generally are not able to ask questions as they go, and webinars are not generally interactive. MiniMad training classes, on the other hand, are in conference mode. Participants are able to ask questions as they come up. The class is interactive with the instructor learning about the class member’s needs and prior learning, so we can work together to build on what you already know. For this purpose, each class is limited in size so that each participant has an equal chance to ask questions, get help, and contribute to the small group discussion. Because of this, no two MiniMad courses will be identical. We’ll work together to see how you want the class to take shape and to ensure your questions are answered.
Why did you introduce this service?
MiniMad training classes are designed to address three fundamental difficulties with traditional training classes:
- Traditional training classes are generally too expensive for individuals or contract employees
- Traditional training classes take a significant chunk of time, which many project writers can’t afford away from the project
- Traditional training classes can create burnout for attendees by the end of a third or fourth day
This isn’t intended as an insult to traditional training classes. They have their important place, and I continue to offer traditional training classes both online and onsite. However, as I’ve worked with many users around the world, I consistently hear feedback like:
- “Oh, my company would never pay a thousand dollars for training.”
- “I’m not a beginner, so I don’t want to spend time in a training class on stuff I already know.”
- “I’m a consultant, and I have to pay for training out of my own earnings, and traditional training is so expensive.”
- “We only get to send one or two writers each year for professional development classes or conferences, but we have a team of 5 writers!”
- “Traditional training classes wear me out! By the third day my brain is full and I have a hard time remembering everything that is taught. I wish we could break it up more.”
- “I’m the only writer, and taking three days to a week away from my projects is really not feasible.”
MiniMad training classes are priced so that even individuals on a budget can afford them, with classes starting at USD$55.00 and going up to USD$150.00, based on course length. Since you only take the modules you need, you customize your training experience around the pieces that are relevant to your and your projects. Since training classes are offered multiple times a week, you can pick up the courses you are interested in at a pace that works for you. Initially I’ve scheduled most training classes for afternoon or evening hours (US time, based on your timezone) to help make it easier for those people who have a hard time getting away from work. I’m also flexible in my training times and dates, so I’m willing to create a custom training session for individual customers, if that is what you need.
This flexible model allows me to provide personalized live instruction to small groups of people on very specific subjects.
What about standard training classes? Aren’t you competing with them?
I don’t think MiniMad training sessions are in direct competition with standard or traditional training classes. Really I’m targeting a niche here that traditional training hasn’t served very well: those whose budget and time constraints don’t allow them to participate in traditional training. In fact, I think that traditional training classes still have immense value, and I continue providing that service to those for whom traditional training is a good option. I think of MiniMad training sessions as broadening the number of people who can get professional, affordable training. In that sense MiniMad sessions are a supplement to traditional training classes, not a direct replacement for it.[product_category category=”minimad” columns=”4″ orderby=”date” order=”asc”]
Today I’m thrilled to announce a new training program that I’m providing through DocGuy Training called MiniMad–online training modules that fit your schedule and your budget.
While many of us would love to get additional training on the tools we use, often we can’t because training classes are too expensive, too long, or too hard to get approved through management. Here is the solution to that problem. Instead of signing up for a three or four day training course (that usually costs more than $1200 per person), sign up for a MiniMad session. Instead of wasting time in a training learning things you already know, sign up for a MiniMad training session that covers a topic that you want to know more about.
MiniMad training sessions last one to three hours, depending on the topic, and cost between $55 and $150 depending on the length. Most MiniMad classes are scheduled for the late afternoon or evening (for those of you in North America), but if you want a MiniMad training session scheduled for a different time of day (any timezone, world-wide), I’d be happy to work with you to schedule it.
With MiniMad training sessions, you get the information you need, when you are interested in learning it. Because each MiniMad session is repeated every month or so, you can pick up all the MiniMad sessions that interest you as you have time to take them and implement them into your workflow.
I think you’ll agree that the prices are already fantastic, but to celebrate this new training option, if you order before July 15th, 2013 use coupon code MINIMAD15 for 15% your entire order!