Use variables and metadata in Author-it.
Once you are familiar with creating and reusing content, you can take that content even further
by applying some conditionality to it. Our most popular conditionality feature is
called variables. A variable is a placeholder for repeated,
changeable text. Variables are used within your content to switch out pieces of content
that change based on the context of the document. Using variables in this manner makes content
reusable across multiple contexts and prevents you from having to duplicate content when
only some text or graphics are different. Another conditionality feature is metadata.
Metadata is a way to tag your content with more information. Common uses are to make
it more searchable or embed information used in other systems. The metadata tag is used
to assign the value to your content. And both the metadata tag and the value are searchable
and can be used to filter content out of your book.
Let’s take a look at using variables now. We recently imported the Acme Teleportation
Product Manual into Author-it, created some new content and reused some existing content.
We want to apply some conditionality to our content so that it is reusable across multiple
contexts and uses. We will replace the Acme Teleportation company name with a company
name variable so that we can produce our manuals under multiple manufacturer names. And, we
will also assign an effective date to our topics using a metadata tag.
We can replace the company name, Acme Teleportation, with a variable several ways. In the first
way, we can simply type the variable value in. The variable name is always in between
open and close carats. Another way is to insert the variable from the ribbon toolbar. We can
even use Find and Replace to search all of our content for Acme Teleportation and replace
it with the variable. Let’s change the name of the document as well and we’ll synchronize
all of our headings for our outputs when we publish.
Now that we’ve inserted the variable as our placeholder, let’s assign the value
we want when we publish. The easiest way to manage variable assignments is to assign the
variable value to the book. This way, all topics that contain the variable within the
book will use the book’s value. Now, we want to use variables in another way–to
add some more information to our topics. This is often referred to as metadata, and metadata
is useful for filtering and searching. We will assign the metadata tag and a value to
some topics. We can then search on the metadata tag, we can search on the metadata value,
or we can search on both and you are able to see which components it is tagged to.
If you are looking to learn more, visit the Author-it Community, our Learning Center,
our Knowledge Center, or the Developer Community.