Several years ago, Greenway Health went through a three-company merger. In the process, three technical documentation teams became one, and discovered their tools, processes for production, publication, backups, and overall standards differed considerably. After years of attempts at unification, we finally found success through MadCap Flare.
Searching for an All-in-One Solution
With multiple products, processes and outputs including CHM, WebHelp and PDF files, our challenge was to unite everything into a single tool that would allow us to do the following:
• Move all content online to match our future product direction
• Improve the user experience
• Control branding
• Unify the publication process and backup system across all product lines
Migrating to MadCap Flare
We had tens of thousands of topics to migrate and limited resources. However, Flare’s tools substantially improved our conversion process.
Moving from Microsoft Word
To convert Word files into Flare pages, we used Flare’s redesigned import wizard. The 2019 r2 update introduced a rebuilt import interface, providing the ability to drag and drop any number of Word files directly into the Content Explorer offering us a simplified workflow.
Moving from WordPress
This was the most time-consuming process. Unlike Flare, WordPress uses database entries and not HTML pages. We were able to find some plugins that converted WordPress pages and posts into HTML, but none met our needs entirely. This left us cleaning up a lot of code.
Ultimately, the conversion ended up as a manual process. We copied images and text into Flare then applied new tags and stylesheets. We never found a way to convert a WordPress site into a Flare help project without having to check all code manually.
If you go this route, you’ll want a developer with WordPress and Flare knowledge. This conversion will require a lot of planning.
Moving from RoboHelp® and FrameMaker® was a cinch using the tools included with Flare. Following the instructions available through MadCap Software’s documentation, we were able to successfully import more than 30,000 topics.
Because they required little cleanup, we were able to quickly create usable outputs. And although it took some effort, it wasn’t long before we could produce PDF documentation straight from Flare. In fact, outputs that previously took hours to produce now only take minutes using Flare.
What We’re Doing Now
After moving our projects, we started the process of upgrading our help to the HTML5 output. This allowed us to streamline content delivery across all products. What previously took nine different processes now involves a single, unified process and common set of standards.
With nearly all our information in a single help authoring tool — and with full alignment expected by the end of 2020 — we have been able to apply a single stylesheet across all our Flare projects. This has made overall maintenance much easier, allowing us to more consistently adhere to our branding standards, and ensuring all our content is stored and versioned using Git.
Beyond this, as a company, we have also expanded our use of Flare beyond just Technical Documentation, and it is currently in use by our education teams to create workbooks and courses for internal and external audiences. This has opened up possibilities for greater content reuse and better education integration with our products and services.
Because we started out with so many different products and processes, unifying all content under one platform wasn’t always easy. But Flare allowed us to present our brand more consistently and streamline processes such as production, publication, and versioning.
About the Authors
Joshua Cline, senior technical writer and Norbert Cartagena, senior manager of technical documentation and knowledge management, are writers at Greenway Health, an electronic health record (EHR) software and service that connect providers to the right information and insights so they can make patient-driven care a reality. Joshua loves playing the guitar and Norbert loves spending days in libraries and bookstores.