Only Today Matters! (see Topics and Drivel for yesterday's views).

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Book Title PDF Bookmark? In Flare?

I have figured out a minor issue I was having with the PDF target for Flare 4.
Skip the BS and get to the tip (but I do try to make the BS entertaining).

Maybe I am just the dull knife in our Tech Writing drawer, but I was having trouble getting Flare to duplicate the bookmark structure in our Frame books. This after importing a book file from Frame and building the PDF target, and not seeing the bookmarks that I wanted. So I decided to break down the issues and chip away at them one at a time.

In this case, I was trying to find a way to have the PDF target build PDF bookmarks that included the book title at level 1. But if I did so normally (define the BookTitle style as an H1), the book title would show up in the Print TOC, which was kind of silly.

Our books had a first level bookmark for the book title, generated by specifying the BookTitle style in our Frame book as a PDF bookmark. But there is no separate PDF bookmark setup in Flare.

Bookmarks in the Flare PDF target output are controlled by the TOC for your PDF target. That may be a DUH! but the way they work is not all that clear to the dull knives in the drawer.

Warning! Loose talk follows that could be considered criticism of Madcap, but I will explain why it isn't really.
My ex-Boy Scout, due diligence side dutifully searched through the Flare help and pdfs for info on PDF bookmarks. I could not find anything, and looking at their PDFs did not help much, because their bookmark structure is different. In fact, in a few of their own PDFs, the bookmarks don't look so good (like repeated entries and extraneous bookmarks following the Index - look at, with some level of irony, their Printed Output Guide).

I realize Flare 4 was a huge and extraordinarily feature-rich and ambitious release. So like any good customer, the first thing I did was ignore all of their good work and dive in to the nth level details and find little trivial things that work but don't quite work the way I wished, and some other things that don't work right, and pounce on them.

That is my long-winded way of saying that I couldn't have done any better myself on a first edition book, and I harbor zero ill will. There are thousands of things you can do in Frame thousands of ways, and I don't expect Madcap to cover them all in a first release (which is what Flare 4 is, at least of the Blaze component). Flare has handled the bulk of the Frame features very well (IMO). Given the way Madcap has responded previously, I expect these things to be handled just as well in the fullness of time.

How to make a Book Title PDF bookmark that doesn't show up in the Print TOC
Here is the Joe Friday version of how to set up a bookmark structure that has the book parts nestled under a root level book title. It is not the only way, I am sure.

(but see the note at the bottom Postcript Caveat - there is a small gotcha.)
  1. Create a TOC that you will use for your PDF target output.
  2. Open your PDF target, then click the Printed Output tab.
  3. Select Use TOC depth for heading levels.
  4. Select Inject Headings for unlinked books in TOC.
  5. Click the Basic tab and specify the your TOC from Step 1 as the Master TOC.
  6. Open your PDF Target Master TOC.
  7. Make a TOC entry for your cover/title page by clicking the New Item icon.
  8. Move this TOC entry so that it is the first (top) entry in the TOC by clicking the up arrow as often as needed.
  9. Move it to the leftmost level by clicking the left arrow as often as needed. Everything else is now under this TOC entry, at least one level to the right.
  10. In the Stylesheet Editor, change the font color for p.TOC1 to white (invisible), the font size to like 3pts, and margin-top and margin-bottom to zero. (IF your stylesheet does not contain the p.TOC sub-classes, you may need to import those classes from another stylesheet like basic.css. If you created your stylesheet by importing from Framemaker, for example, you may not have these classes.)
  11. Build your PDF target and enjoy the result.
The part that isn't that intuitive if you did a lot of Frame -> PDF books is that there is not a separate GUI for setting up bookmarks in Flare, and no one really comes out and tells you that the master toc for the PDF target handles this. Also, it is inherent in the heading CSS classes that they are automatically created as bookmarks, but you can turn this off in the PDF target. It is also kind of new thinking that not all H1's are created equal in the Flare world, because in this case the heading levels in the bookmarks are controlled by their position in the TOC, rather than strictly their CSS class. However, within the body of the document/project, the CSS still determines how headings are displayed.

Here is a snapshot of the result:

Postscript Caveat
Apparently the 'inject Headings for unlinked books in TOC' does more than it implies - it also 'injects' a heading from the TOC into the main text. Flare help notes this parenthetically. In this case the injected heading showed up at the top of the page layout on the cover page, pushing the book title text that was supposed to be there down a line. Hmm. It is a vanilla H1 because that is where it lives in the bookmark TOC (I added a border to the style and it showed up with the border).

I colored the H1 style white and that solved the problem.

But if you are using the plain H1 in your project, that is not so good a solution. In my case, I use sub-classes of H1 so it should work, but if I import a raw H1 I will never see it in the print medium. I don't like making kludgey stuff stuff a department standard, so the jury remains out on whether this is a solution or an annoyance.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Trouble in Patriot Nation

Reflecting back on yesterday's 30-10 loss by the New England Patriots to the San Diego Chargers, a few things seem clear to me (and probably to every other New Englander who cares about football).
  1. Matt Cassell is not Tom Brady, and he knows it, and so does everyone else on both sides of the ball.
  2. The rest of the offense is dealing poorly with Brady's absence. They are not picking up their play; just the opposite.
  3. The best defense is a good offense. But when you don't have the best offense, your defense has to actually be good. The Patriots defense is being exposed as less than good in many ways.
On the first point, no one should expect Matt Cassell to be as good as Brady. He is actually a rather competent QB. But for a team that relied heavily on Brady's excellence, anything less puts a huge burden on the line, the backs, and the receivers. Time at time in this game, and previous games as well, these players have not stepped up, in my opinion. In fact, it seems that the staff also has resigned themselves to their fate of mediocrity. Case in point, a long pass that Moss caught, then was hit and lost the ball going out of bounds. The announcers expected the Pats to challenge the call, as Moss seemed to have a strong grip on the ball while in bounds. The ball was knocked out by the defensive back, and no one, Moss or coaches, seemed interested enough to challenge the incompletion. On the next possession, the Chargers scored on a long pass. That was a turning point but NE looked like they were just waiting for the roof to collapse, and it did. With Brady and their top two runners out, the team came into the stadium with a fork sticking out of their backs.

Think about how many times on a 3rd down Cassell completed a pass but the gain was too short for a first. Either the pattern or the receiver or Casell's vision or all three combine to make that a bad call and a bad result. The offense was able to do none of the things that past Patriots could do to pressure a defense. Brady's ability to sense almost supernaturally the open man and hit him was so obviously missing from the Patriot's game. As a result, the Chargers could just play the percentages and rely on their scouting to ID the target player and cover him.

Without the offense to either strike and score or hold the ball, the defense was exposed as lacking in many areas. Particularly in the secondary, the players replacing Randall Gaye and Asanti Samuel just do not stack up, talent-wise or height-wise. They are being exploited by opponent's QBs and the front 7 are generating almost no pass rush to speak of. As a result, Rivers was able to pick them apart. When the Pats used 4 down linemen they could stop up Thomlinson fairly well, but if they stayed in the 4-3, The Chargers were killing them with passing. If they went back to the 3-4, they couldn't contain the run, and the pass plays the Pats generated even less pressure than with the 4-3.

On top of that, it seemed like the Chargers were not being called for holding numerous times. On one of the bombs from Rivers, it looked like a New England blitzer was dragged down by two Chargers, but no call (other than touchdown). On their big punt return, the Pats first man looked like he was hit from behind twice, yet the Pats got a 15 yard facemask called on the play instead. The coaching staff seemed to accept both of these with no argument.

If the rest of the schedule is like this, it will be a long long season.