Linking to external sites from your online help can be very helpful for your users. You can provide them quick access to good or even necessary resources to allow them to complete a task. But external links come with a downside. Over time, URLs change, and you can end up sending your users to non-existent pages. That certainly isn’t good for users and seriously damages their confidence in the freshness and accuracy of your help content.
A client recently asked me if we could identify and test the external links that were in their Flare project. I knew that there was a way to list the external sites using MadCap Analyzer, but I was surprised to find that there is a way to check whether they’re valid links too!
To test your external links, open your Flare project in MadCap Analyzer. After Analyzer completes its review of your project, click View > Links > External Links. This opens a list of the external links you have in your topics.
Highlight the links you want to test (you can shift+click or ctrl+click to multi-select), and then click Check in the local toolbar.
The results will display in the Status column. This is a very handy feature in Analyzer, and it’s probably a good idea to add this step to your QA process before you publish.