LA JOLLA, Calif., March 1, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- MadCap Software, Inc., the leader in multi-channel content authoring and a showcase company for Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) Visual Studio and Microsoft XPS, today announced the launch of MadCap Flare 7.0. Version 7.0 is the newest release of MadCap's XML-based Flare application, the industry's only multi-channel software application for natively publishing documentation to the Web, mobile devices, desktops and print.
MadCap Flare 7.0 expands its leadership in mobile-accessible documentation with another industry first—support for creating and publishing Quick Response (QR) codes in printed documents, which mobile devices can then scan to access searchable, interactive content on the Web. Also new in Flare 7.0 are direct integration with Microsoft SharePoint and Apache Subversion, enhanced support for government accessibility standards, support for vector graphics, and new features for equation editing and publishing.
With the release of Flare 7.0, MadCap will cease producing MadCap Blaze, the XML-based alternative to Adobe FrameMaker for long print documents. Current MadCap Blaze customers will be provided an upgrade to MadCap Flare, which features all of Blaze's print functionality plus the ability to publish mobile, Web and desktop content all from a single tool.
"The move to focus on MadCap Flare reflects the natural evolution that we are seeing as more technical writing, customer service, call center, and human resource departments turn away from print-only authoring tools such as Blaze and Adobe FrameMaker and toward more modern, all-in-one applications that can publish to multiple channels," said Anthony Olivier, MadCap founder and CEO. "Already, the vast majority of our customers who first evaluate MadCap Blaze as a modern alternative to FrameMaker quickly decide to purchase MadCap Flare instead. These customers recognize the strategic value of letting readers choose the way they receive content, whether it's in print, on the Web, on desktops, or on their mobile devices."
In conjunction with Flare 7.0, MadCap also is launching the newest versions of its MadPak and MadPak ML (Multilingual) technical communications suites. In addition to Flare 7.0, the MadPak suite now features MadCap Analyzer 4.0 for analyzing and improving documentation and MadCap Contributor (formerly X-Edit) for collaborative authoring and reviewing—which also launched today—as well as MadCap Mimic 5.0 for publishing software simulation movies, video and audio; and MadCap Capture 5.0 for image capture and graphics editing. MadPak ML offers all the products in MadPak plus the MadCap Lingo translation environment tool (TeNT). For more information, see the press release on MadPak and MadPak ML also dated March 1, 2011.
MadCap Flare Delivers Latest Industry First in Mobile Output
With Version 7.0, MadCap Flare becomes the first authoring tool to include a built-in QR code generator that lets writers insert QR codes into content files. In doing so, MadCap extends its leadership in mobile publishing and bridges the gap between static print documentation and searchable, mobile content.
Authors use the XML Editor in MadCap Flare to quickly and easily add QR codes. These codes can be read by the many different barcode readers on the market, as well as most mobile devices, which either come with pre-installed barcode readers or have access to free barcode readers for download. The author can encode any data in the QR code, such as a website URL, an email address, access to a tutorial, contact information, or short message service (SMS) for sending text messages.
In addition to significantly reducing print costs, there are a number of benefits to both users and authors for including QR codes in print materials:
- Printing quick start guides or user manuals, which feature a QR code at the bottom of each page or topic that takes users to a website for more detailed, interactive and searchable information.
- Printing a QR code on a document that takes users straight to a website where they can purchase items, such as spare parts, software, or accessories.
- Allowing users in the field to access the product Help system or support on the Web by scanning a QR code.
- Producing a procedures manual with QR codes that, when scanned, opens movies or videos showing the steps in action.
- Enabling readers to scan the QR code in a PDF manual in order to link directly to specific pages on the company's website or directly to the entire online version of the document for complete mobile access.
The new QR code support in Flare 7.0 builds on the mobile publishing support that MadCap first introduced in 2010. Flare is the only authoring software that allows for native, intuitive publishing of any documentation to mobile devices. Its completely platform-independent mobile functionality means it doesn't matter whether the output goes to an iPhone, a device running Windows Mobile or Android, or another mobile platform. The Web-based XHTML output is optimized to squeeze every bit of performance out of low-bandwidth connections. Additionally, a built-in mobile simulator lets authors test mobile output on their PCs if they don't have access to the actual devices.
"The growing popularity of smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices is creating opportunities for companies to compete by offering a new level of interactivity in the content that they provide customers, employees and partners," said Mike Hamilton, MadCap vice president of product evangelism. "At the same time, more businesses are recognizing the limitations of print documents, particularly when compared with online searchable content that employs hyperlinks, URLs and video tutorials to give users access to more information. With the addition of QR codes, authors can now transform their print documentation into a gateway through which mobile devices provide users access to more relevant, actionable and up-to-date content wherever and whenever they need it."
Flare 7.0 Accessibility Enhancements
With Flare 7.0, PDF and WebHelp outputs have been improved to make documentation more accessible to users who have visual and hearing impairments, and comply with standards such as Section 508 of the US Rehabilitation Act and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Flare 7.0 automatically generates WebHelp runtime output and navigation that adheres with item 1194.22 of the Section 508 specification. It supports any of the WebHelp formats, including WebHelp, WebHelp Plus, WebHelp AIR, and WebHelp Mobile.
Additionally, a new Warnings tab in the Flare Target Editor for WebHelp output gives authors the option to receive compiler warnings when output fails to include information that makes it accessible. Warnings include image elements, equation elements, or QR code elements that are missing alternate text; tables that are missing captions and summaries, or are missing header rows; form elements that are missing labels; and frame elements that are missing titles and names.
Accessibility for PDF output has been enhanced in four ways. For images, HTML alternate text ("alt") attributes are converted to the PDF equivalent during compilation so that screen readers have a way to describe the image. Language for content XML "lang" attributes are automatically converted to the PDF equivalent during compilation. Authors can now use the Target Editor to generate a tagged PDF, which is necessary for certain accessibility applications, including screen readers. The Target Editor also provides accessibility warnings when PDF output is not in compliance with government requirements.
"I generate many PDF files from my Flare projects and they must all be tagged with accessibility tags so they can be used with assistive reading devices," says Lorraine Kupka, a principal at NorthCoast Writers, Inc. and author of Five Steps to MadCap Flare. "The new feature in Flare 7.0 that automatically creates these tags will save me lots of time when I need it most—when I'm in crunch mode trying to get everything delivered on time."
"Flare is already the best information development tool out there, and now it's the leader of the pack in accessibility," said Eddie VanArsdall, founder of VanArsdall InfoDesign. "Each new version of Flare has shown that MadCap understands its users, and Flare 7.0 is no exception. Packed with impressive new features and enhancements, it provides full support for information development teams and their workflows."
Flare 7.0 Improves Collaboration via SharePoint and Subversion
Flare 7.0 expands team collaboration support to include integration with Microsoft SharePoint, the widely adopted solution for collaborating, sharing files, and publishing information to the Web. Now Flare users can connect to SharePoint servers within their organizations in order to access and edit SharePoint files from within any Flare project. Additionally, Flare 7.0 provides native support for Apache Subversion to facilitate version control among authors who collaborate on content. With Flare, authors no longer need a third-party plug-in to take advantage of one of the industry's most widely used source control solutions.
Collaboration also is enhanced by the new review workflow in Flare 7.0, which includes new track changes functionality in which each change is marked in a different color for each user and/or is labeled in a sidebar. Now authors can track changes made to content files edited in the XML Editor and accept or reject those alternations individually or as an entire group. Additionally, the track changes feature is automatically enabled when authors send documentation out to reviewers who use MadCap Contributor, the companion product to Flare for contributing and editing content. When the reviewers' edits come back, Flare authors can see exactly what changes occurred and then pick which ones to accept or reject.
"With Flare 7.0, there is something for everyone. By supporting SharePoint and Subversion, along with Microsoft Team Foundation Server, MadCap Flare addresses the needs of very small to global-scale companies," said Ed Marshall, founder of Marshall Documentation Consulting. "Additionally, Flare 7.0 provides so many reports that it covers the broad spectrum of companies' technical communication needs."
Flare 7.0 Adds Equation and Vector Graphics Support
Flare 7.0 now includes a built-in Equation Editor that supports the Mathematical Markup Language (MathML) for describing mathematical notations in XML, which is recommended by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The Equation Editor lets authors create, edit and embed virtually any kind of mathematical equation in the XML Editor. When generating output, Flare automatically converts equations to the appropriate format, such as vector graphics for PDFs and raster images (such as PNG files) for desktop, Web or mobile content.
Flare 7 also considerably enhances print output with its support for three types of vector image files in PDF output: EPS, PS and SVG. This produces a much crisper image in print documents, maintaining clarity even when the graphic size is reduced.
"With change tracking and enhanced table functionality among its many new features, we see Flare 7.0 as further vindication of our decision to migrate from Adobe FrameMaker," said Adrian Morse, Picis, Inc. documentation manager.
"The new table functionality is incredible. I absolutely love the new freedom Flare 7.0 gives me to change, merge, separate and convert tables! Finally, I can convert legacy tables to text where I need to," says Diana Beebe, senior technical writer. "With the interface improvements in Flare 7.0, it just keeps getting better and better. I cringe at the thought of having to use a different authoring tool!"
Availability and Pricing
MadCap Flare 7.0 is available today, separately and as part of MadPak and MadPak ML (Multilingual). A standalone Flare 7.0 license is priced at $999. MadPak, at $1,399 per license, includes Flare 7.0, MadCap Analyzer 4.0, MadCap Contributor, MadCap Mimic 5.0, and MadCap Capture 5.0. MadPak ML, priced at $1,699 per license, features all of the products in MadPak plus MadCap Lingo. Maintenance (support and subscription) fees start at $199 per year for the Bronze Level, $299 for the Gold Level, and $499 for the Platinum Level. Discounts for multiyear maintenance contracts are also available.
About MadCap Software
MadCap Software, Inc. is a leading technical communication software firm specializing in integrated applications for end-to-end content development, delivery and management. MadCap's software products provide state-of-the-art content workflow solutions for multi-channel publishing, including the Web, print, desktop and mobile. Through its strategic partner Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT), MadCap delivers solutions optimized for Microsoft Windows, Visual Studio, and the .NET environment. Headquartered in La Jolla, CA, MadCap is home to some of the most experienced software architects and product experts in the documentation industry. Learn more about MadCap Software at www.madcapsoftware.com.
MadCap Software, the MadCap Software logo, MadPak, MadPak ML, MadCap Blaze, MadCap Flare, MadCap Mimic, MadCap Capture, MadCap Lingo, MadCap Analyzer, MadCap Contributor, and MadCap X-Edit are trademarks or registered trademarks of MadCap Software, Inc., in the United States and/or other countries. Other marks are the properties of their respective owners.
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SOURCE MadCap Software, Inc.