Lately, I’ve been chatting a bit with a some people who use MadCap Flare, or more specifically the MadPak Suite. Something that came up more than once in those chats was MadCap Analyzer, a tool for finding problems in a Flare project and for making various suggestions.
Surprisingly, not everyone I talked to has used Analyzer. It’s a useful app, and whenever I work on a project in Flare I run Analyzer over it at least once.
I also found that most of the people I talked to only focus on Analyzer’s variable and snippet suggestions. Only a couple have taken a close look at Analyzer’s index keyword suggestions. Those suggestions are a potentially useful way of beefing up your index.
Getting the suggestions
To do that, load your project in Flare and launch Analyzer, or load the project directly into Analyzer. If you’re wondering how to do that, check the documentation. I’m not going to waste bits duplicating what already exists.
In either case, Analyzer will start working its magic. Depending on the size of your project, the analysis can take a few seconds to up to a minute. When it’s done, click on Index Keyword Suggestions. You’ll see something similar to the screen capture below. I’ve blurred the information for obvious reasons …
From there, you can click the Apply button to add the suggested keywords to the index. I don’t recommend that, though.
Why you don’t want to click Apply immediately
Analyzer seems to make suggestions for index entries based on instances of an existing keyword. In one project that I’ve been working on, Analyzer came across several uses of billing group that I seemingly forgot to index. A closer look found that I didn’t index those instances of billing group for several reasons:
- They were in cross references
- They were single mentions in a related topic, a step in a procedure, or in a snippet
In those cases, and probably a few others that I’ve overlooked, you don’t want to add an index entry. Doing that just bloats the index, and definitely doesn’t add value for the user.
The solution? Before clicking the Apply button, quickly check the topics that Analyzer is suggesting you add index keywords to. This could take a while — with one project I worked on, Analyzer made about 100 suggestions. Of that hundred, I think I applied five.
Benefits of this approach
Sure, you could do the same thing by opening each topic in a Flare project. That would take a bit longer. And, anyway, Analyzer does a decent job of offering suggestions. It won’t hit every topic in a project, though.
To be honest, I’m not the best indexer. I do a fair job, but can always use a bit of help. Analyzer, even with its minor flaws, gives me that assistance.