Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Notes about Flare’s Style Sheet Editor

Flare’s style sheet editor is very powerful but has several attributes that can be confusing.

One such attribute is the variety of styles, including unusual ones like "generic pseudo-class". Another such attribute is the many properties available for those styles. Another is the combining of the properties into functional groups like Font, Background, or Block, which means that a property can appear in several groups.

This last attribute raises two questions – what do the different functional property groups do? And, if a property appears in several groups, is it the same property each time?

I’ve heard these questions often but never got around to writing anything about them until getting a question (thanks, Jennifer) in a CSS course that I recently taught for MadCap. The question was – “I don't understand the difference between padding in the Box, Cell, and Padding groups in Flare’s stylesheet editor.”

As noted above, MadCap combined many style properties into groups depending on their function. This means that some properties, like Padding, will show up in multiple groups because padding applies to different functions, like paragraph and table cell formatting.

Are the repeated properties simply the same property used in several places? To check, you can list all the properties using the Show: Alphabetical List option on the style sheet editor’s toolbar. If a repeated property is actually the same property, it will show up once in the alphabetical list, exactly what happens with the Padding properties.

Regarding the three functional groups in the question above – Box, Cell, and Padding:

- If you want to format a table cell, use the Cell or Box group properties.

- If you want to format a text paragraph, use the Box or Padding group properties.

Each case, table cell or text paragraph, can be handled by the properties in either of two functional groups, so you'd choose between those groups by finding the one that offered the specific properties you needed. For example, if you want to format a table cell and need to set the margin, select from the Box group. If you didn’t need to set the margin, you could select from either group.

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