Stylesheet mediums, located in the Stylesheet Editor, can automatically reformat your content depending on the output target you’re generating.
Let’s say that you have to generate two output targets from your project: online and print. You want the h1 headings to be blue in the online output; black in print output.
You could create two stylesheets, one for the online output with h1 set to blue; one for print with h1 set to black. That would work but it’s inefficient because you’re creating and maintaining two style sheets, and you will have to remember to pick the right style sheet when you generate each output.
Mediums are simpler...
Think of a medium as a category of output for which you want to set different properties for some styles instead of their default settings. Let’s say that most of your outputs are online so you decide to make blue the default font color for h1. However, because you want the h1's to be black when you print, “Print” is the medium.
Here's another example: You want hyperlinks and cross-references to use underlined blue text for online output, which you decide is your default. However, the links need to be black with no underline for print output. In this instance, you would tell Flare that links and cross-references should be underlined, blue for the default medium but black with no underline for the print medium.
When you define a target, Flare automatically sets its medium in the Advanced tab of the Target Editor. It automatically uses the print medium for Word, PDF, or Framemaker outputs and the default medium for other targets. Using the h1 color example, this means that h1s will be black in Word, PDF, or Framemaker targets and blue in all other targets. If necessary, you can create other mediums for custom needs and apply them to the targets, overriding Flare’s automatically applied mediums.
So how do you set the properties for a particular style for a particular medium? Open the Stylesheet Editor, then click the Medium drop-down menu. Here’s what you’ll see in Flare 12. (Note: In Flare 11 or earlier, the options are default, print, and non-print but the concepts are the same.)
Select the desired style, say h1, make sure the medium is set to default, and set the default properties (such as the font color to blue, for example). Then change the medium to the desired alternative, (print for example), and set the alternative properties (setting the font color to black for example). That’s it!
You can see the effect in two ways.
Switch between any mediums for which you changed styles. You’ll see the change. For example, here’s the effect for font color, first for the default medium with the color set to black. (Note the highlighted medium setting and font-color setting-- #4169e1 is hexadecimal for a dark blue.)
If you change the medium to print, you'll see settings specifically for printing. Note the highlighted medium and font color settings - #000000 is hexadecimal for black.
Change the layout when viewing the topic in the topic editor and you’ll see the medium change too. For example, here it is with the Layout field set to Web and the Medium field set to default. The title is blue. When you generate the output with the default medium, all topic titles will be blue.
Change the Layout field to print and Flare automatically changes the Medium to print. When you generate the output using the print medium, all topic titles will be black.
There’s much more that you can do with mediums but this overview should have given you some ideas of how they can enhance Flare’s single sourcing power.
Neil Perlin is MadCap-Certified for Flare and is a long-time consultant, troubleshooter, and trainer for the tool, going back to MadCap’s founding in 2004. He also has years of experience with older tools like RoboHelp and Doc-To-Help and now defunct tools like ForeHelp. He is also a certified app developer, trainer, and consultant for the ViziApps app development platform. You can reach him at [email protected] and at NeilEric on Twitter.