How to Localize Online Help via Madcap Flare

Like RoboHelp, Madcap Flare is a Help authoring tool loved by technical writers. And as a tool with one source but multiple outputs, Flare is now getting more and more popular.


Madcap’s Lingo can be used for Flare for localization. It is able to extract all translatable contents in order to reduce the editor’s workload. But it may also extract some parts which do not require translating, such as parameters, resulting in a more complicated job. Presently, therefore, people are still used to handling directly Flare files with Computer-Aided Translation (CAT) tools.


The localization of a Flare project involves the following parts which need careful attention: (1) Identify translatable content; (2) convert encoding and set up tools; (3) edit and proof outputs.


1. Identify translatable content

a) Help topics

The main content to translate in a Flare project is the web pages included in the Content folder.

b) Segment files

The extension name is .flsnp. They are usually some saved topics to facilitate repeated uses under Help Topic. They share the same ini with the topic during translation and are processed by Tageditor.

c) Catalogue files

The catalogue files in Flare project are generally located in ProjectTOCs folder with extension name of .fltoc. Those files can be translated with Tageditor through setting ini.

d) Glossary files

The glossary files in Flare project are generally located in ProjectGlossariesfolder with extension name of .flglo. Those files can be translated with Tageditor through setting ini.

e) Variable files

The extension name of variable files is .flvar. They should be translated in most circumstances. These files can be translated with Tageditor through setting ini.

f) Dictionnary files

The extension name is .mcdic. These files can be translated with Tageditor through setting ini.

g) Skin files

Their extension name is .flskn,and they define the interface texts in display tools. These files can set ini and can be translated with Tageditor. The setting for this ini is a little complicated, because the element attributes of content for translating might be different.

h) Condition tag setting files usually not for translation

They are under ProjectConditionTagSets folder with extension name is .flcts. (They are used for condition text and should not be translated in most projects. If they need to be translated, TagEditor can help.)

i) Style Sheet

Style Sheet is usually located in ContentResourcesStylesheets folder, with extension name .css. Some content may need translating in CSS style, such as Notes:Tips:Warning: etc.

j) Graphics

Determine whether there are graphics that need localizing in the project.


2. CAT tool settings

Using Trados as example to introduce the tool settings below:

Note: Before translation, you need to process the files’ encoding. Flare files usually adopt UTF-8 encoding to avoid the troubles brought with Tageditor. First, save the file as Unicode encoding to translate, then clean, then save it as UTF-8. Converting codes prevents issues like unwanted characters appearing in the file header as well as special symbols like trademark from getting corrupted. With the right settings, Trados can also handle escape characters, index items translation, conditional text, added to the translation text.

To solve the escape character issues, please set up according to the following screenshots. After settings are settled, the symbol   won’t be changed into  , so the problems of editing can be avoided in future.


In order to translate the index content in the Web page files, you need to modify the element definition in the ini files, and render index elements translatable such as < MadCap:keyword term=”New Features;What’s new in this release” />, where MadCap:keyword is the term attribute values of element needing translating. As for the settings details, please see the XML files translation instructions.

To prevent a code like < META…… > from being added after the file, please follow the steps Tag settings Properties Elements Advanced, as shown in the following screenshot.


If conditional files are included in the project, those files which have no need for translation must be filtered by setting the ini. Conditional text may be embedded within the topic, segment files, and catalogue.

As long as the above encoding conversion is complete, translation can begin.


3. Editing/Proofing output

1) Preparation for editing

First of all, the following checks must be performed:

a) Check if there is unnecessary code. This code sequence must be removed thoroughly in all files before


b) Check if there are any   codes in the html file. It should be  , and must be corrected, otherwise the edited file

can be erroneous.

c) Check whether each web page is encoded with UTF-8, no matter in which language the project is translated.

All encodings can be fixed at one time with the help of other software such as EditPlus: EditPlus Document

file Encoding File Encoding Multiple, which can simultaneously open hundreds of files, transcode all

files ,and save them.


2) Begin editing

When you finish all above checks, the editing work can be kicked off in the Flare tool.

a) Select output file type according to project requirement, select WebHelp for WebHelp, select Microsoft HTML

Help for CHM, and double-click them.


b) When it is opened as shown in following graphic, then all you need to do is verify if Master TOC option is

correct. (This often exists in CHM projects.) The name of Master TOC must be consistent with Targets.


c) Select the target language for the project to edit. Then click the funnel icon in second line of picture to generate

the file. The new file will be in the Output folder


3) Check and modify

Check the output file page by page. The parts requiring careful checking: missing translations, corrupted words, consistency of file format (font, word size, color, hyperlink attribute), availability of hyperlink, as well as whether hyperlink(s) function properly.

a) If problems are found, you should modify the editing files, then edit and check again, till all problems are


b) After all problems are resolved, the file is ready to deliver. The deliverable file must comply with the folder

structure required by client.

For the editing project itself, it is not a difficult job, so long as everything is OK with the file. So the importance of preparation in earlier steps stands out!


4. Version of Flare

Flare has many versions, so we must choose the right version which is consistent with the client’s. For instance, Flare project in lower version needs to be edited in 6.0 version. Now we have to set .flskn file to be the same with original version. The other files don’t need such modification.


5. Project steps

1) Analyze project files, determine translatable files.

2) Convert the code for web pages into Unicode (no need for other files).

3) Set ini for files which need translating – different files may require different ini files. Pay attention to conditional

files, and filter the content not needing translation.

4) Use relevant ini to generate ttx files.

5) Execute ContextTM and pre-translation, proceed to translation process.

6) Clean files, convert web page files into UTF-8 encoding.

7) Proceed to edit and check output.


If you have any questions about MadCap Flare localization, please contact EC Innovations today. We’re your trusted partner for user-assistance localization.

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