Implementing Highlighting in Madcap Flare’s HTML5 Output

Flare HTML5 HighlighterIf you’ve ever been frustrated by the lack of keyword highlighting in Flare’s HTML5 output, check out the script Scott DeLoach created for this. It works pretty well. Details for the HTML5 Highlighter are on Scott’s site: http://www.clickstart.net/highlighter/.

I created a quick video tutorial showing how to actually incorporate the highlighter in Flare. It’s not difficult to incorporate but does require a few steps.

(Make sure you change the video quality to 720 on the video so that it’s clear.)

Why doesn’t Flare include highlighting in HTML5 search results by default? In this forum thread, Scott explains that Flare’s HTML5 output is intended to simulate Google’s search results, which don’t have highlighting. Google does bold-format words in the search results page, though, but perhaps bold formatting is new. At any rate, Google’s algorithm extends well beyond keywords, so the most relevant result might not have any keywords relating to your search at all, actually.

The HTML5 highlighter works well except for one problem: it doesn’t expand drop-down hotspots to automatically show keyword locations. Users have to expand the drop-down hotspot sections to see if highlighted keywords exist there.

Looking at Scott’s instructions for incorporating the Javascript file makes me realize how easy it would be to include other scripts. (Alistair Christie has more detailed instructions for custom function buttons in his Flare here).

Here are a few features I think would be worthwhile:

  • A “Was this topic helpful?” type of rating with some feedback options.
  • A comment field.
  • A button that makes snow fall on the screen (just kidding!)

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By Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer working for the 41st Parameter in San Jose, California. I'm interested in topics related to technical writing, such as visual communication, API documentation, information architecture, web publishing, DITA, and more. If you're trying to keep up to date about the field of technical communication, subscribe to my blog.Email

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