Posts in Category "FrameMaker"

FrameMaker 11 w/o XML: why upgrade? Graphics & Anchored Frames

If you have had a chance to view the recording of our launch webinar, “What’s new with FrameMaker 11“, you may have noticed a heavy emphasis on DITA and XML. This is the fastest growing segment of our users, but we recognize that many people (a) continue to used FrameMaker w/o XML in unstructured mode and (b) there are many people experiencing growing pains with tech doc in Word who are interested in using FrameMaker 11 w/o XML.

FrameMaker 11 still a great unstructured authoring solution

Over the last several releases, major improvements have been made that save a great deal of time in an unstructured environment. This blog focuses on several features that add new powers in regards to graphics and anchored frames. You can see brief videos on some of this functionality in our AdobeTV show, “New in FrameMaker 11: Rich Multimedia Capabilities.”

Here’s an overview of key new features in this area, and how you might use them in your workflow.

Object styles and Object style catalog

For years, FrameMaker has had powerful control over paragraph, character and table styles. A table “catalog” was added in the last release to make application of styles even easier. FrameMaker 10 also introduced strong “housekeeping” tools for styles, e.g. the ability to search for any paragraph, range of text or table that does not match the catalog definition.

This type of power and control has now been extended to graphics, vector objects and anchored frames through Object styles. This can be used in a variety of ways: Continue reading…

First Look at New FrameMaker 11: 90 minute overview Aug 7

FrameMaker 11, along with RoboHelp 10 and Tech Comm Suite 4 was announced and simultaneously released Tuesday July 24th. August 7th at 10 AM, Sr. Product Manager Kapil Verma will give a detailed product overview of FrameMaker in a 90 minute session. Attend this session to find out why I consider this the most important release of FrameMaker in 10 years.

Go here to register:

http://adobe.ly/Oj0MTK

(Note: if you miss the session, it will be recorded, and this blog will be updated with the link)

For a complete overview of FrameMaker, read Kapil Verma’s excellent blog, “FrameMaker 11 and FrameMaker Publishing Server 11 are here!Continue reading…

Resizing Content: How to rethink content for mobile devices

I wrote on this topic back in February, but expanded on the theme for a presentation to the San Francisco chapter of STC last week.

Although it may seem self-evident that a small screen requires shorter sentences, shorter word count, etc., some customers are trying to “squeeze” existing legacy content (created for full page display, replete with complex tables and multi-level nested lists) onto mobile devices.

This blog touches on a few highlights of the presentation, which is fairly self-evident in the slide share above. Continue reading…

Part 3 Reasons to upgrade from FM 7.x to FM 10: Track changes and Import PDF comments

Versions of FrameMaker after FrameMaker 7.2 introduced two potent features that could be reason alone to upgrade to FrameMaker 10: (a) track changes and (b) ability to import PDF review comments and annotations “in place” in the source FrameMaker document. Both of the features streamline the edit and review process substantially. Sample documents used for screen captures in this blog prove that FrameMaker 10’s PDF Review cycle (importation of comments) can actually reduce time for that process by 75% compared to FrameMaker 7.2!

Track changes in FrameMaker

The simple tool bar shown below gives you the ability to “turn on” track changes. Icons in the left section of the toolbar enable you to toggle between a preview of the “final” version (after insertions and deletions) or the “original” version.

Continue reading…

Part 2 Reasons to upgrade from FM 7.x to FM 10: Workspaces and a Friendlier UI

One of the most compelling reasons to upgrade to FrameMaker 10 is the redesigned User Interface (UI) which allows “named” workspaces that “remember” placement of menus, etc. Most significantly, nearly any document or menu may be docked, allowed to float, or “dragged” out of the workspace (document window.)

More room to breathe

Once you have upgraded to FrameMaker 10 and become used to the freedom of placing frequently used menus and catalogs on a second monitor, it is quite difficult to “go back” to using FrameMaker 7.2 from 2005, which confined all activity to the “document window.” Floating menus, books or documents in FrameMaker 10 may also be collapsed to a horizontal bar, revealing more document content; this is a real plus when working on a smaller screen, like a laptop or netbook.

The two labeled screen captures below show a stark contrast between the document window of FrameMaker 7.2 and a customized workspace in FrameMaker 10. (Note: click on all graphics for a larger, full display.)

A typical FrameMaker 7.2 document window for unstructured content

A typical FrameMaker 7.2 document window for unstructured content

FrameMaker 10 workspace for the same content shown above. The document and menu to the left are floating outside of the FrameMaker workspace. The black background is the windows desktop.

FrameMaker 10 workspace for the same content shown above. The document and menu to the left are floating outside of the FrameMaker workspace. The black background is the windows desktop.

Continue reading…

Part 1 of blog series on reasons to upgrade from FrameMaker 7.x to FrameMaker 10

A sizeable group of FrameMaker users are still using FrameMaker 7.x (7.0, 7.1 or 7.2). These versions were released in 2002, 2003 and 2005 respectively. Obviously the product has changed substantially in 7 to 10 years. It is a testament to how far ahead of its time version 7 was for those still using it. There are numerous reasons why some users may have postponed upgrading. This is the first in a series of blogs that will touch on some of the more compelling reasons to upgrade from older versions of FrameMaker to version 10, which has been available since 2011.

The following sections touch on just a few of the advantages we will be covering more in depth with this series of blogs.

(1)           Easier user interface

The current release of FrameMaker has a completely redesigned user interface that is more inline with other Adobe products. Although it takes a day or two for some long-time veterans to adjust to the new UI, it is much easier for new, non-FrameMaker users to grasp. This is an important consideration if your company merges with a division that has been using Microsoft Word, or some other product that has a more “familiar” user interface to the general public. Long-term FrameMaker users will find many time-saving improvements in the new UI as well.

My observation has been that with new users, training time and ramp up time on mastering workspaces is substantially shorter than with the old user interface. Watch for a blog that will focus on many aspects of this one benefit.

(2)           Improved catalogs and style management

Beyond the user interface, one major convenience is improved paragraph, character and table catalogs that have improved housekeeping tools. The screen capture below has a red circle that highlights the pre-FrameMaker 9 method of viewing available table styles in a “catalog.” Only a temporary pull-down menu within the Table Designer could reveal the styles to choose from. FrameMaker 10 has a dedicated Table catalog and a number of housekeeping tools for identifying styles in use. More information to come in future blogs.

Table Catalog circled in FrameMaker 7.2

Continue reading…

Next stop Monte Carlo/GALA: Tech Comm Suite and Localization

This isn’t one of those “don’t you wish you were me blogs.” Yes, I’m on my way to Monte Carlo for an exciting GALA conference on the lastest trends in translation and localization. Like my first blog, in a way it’s a trip “home” … back to translation agencies and the localizatin industry I worked in for 15 years.

I’m really looking forward to the conference, (have been to Monaco before.)  I know many of the presenters, and have worked with some of them. Content localization is changing at a swift pace. It is being influenced by many of the same factors that are driving development in Tech Comm: social media, quicker time to market and demand for delivery on handheld devices.

Travelling to the GALA conference in Monaco has made me stop and think about how much more “commonality” there is between language translation and “plain English” content creation than a few years ago.

Localization a high priority with our customers

If I thought that “leaving” the localization industry would somehow distance me from the needs of translation and localization, I was mistaken. Nearly every existing and potential customer I’ve worked with at Adobe has localization and global markets as a high priority. Localization cost savings is often one of the economic motivators that drives our clients to adopt Tech Comm Suite (FrameMaker and RoboHelp) as a solution. Both products, FrameMaker and RoboHelp, and the combo in Tech Comm Suite make highly accessible “single source publishing” solutions to a variety of priority formats. Continue reading…

#ICC12: Resizing Content for the Small Screen: Considerations

Much has been written or presented on the process of converting content for mobile devices and tablets. But little has been written about how we must change the way we write for delivery to a device that displays about one ninth of web or PDF content viewed on a single laptop screen.

This blog touches on a few of the points I shared in my Intelligent Content Conference 2012 (#ICC12) presentation, “Resizing Content for the Small Screen: Considerations for Single-Source Authoring for Tablet and Mobile Delivery.” Subsequent blogs and probably an enhanced conference presentation on this topic will follow. Since only two of my 34 PPT slides had been seen before, I was curious how the early riser audience would react. The participants did connect with the message; in fact a few of them missed breakfast staying for an overtime discussion.

From this …

To this

…. In just 5,000 years

  
 

 

Ironically, some of the earliest known business “documents” were composed and read on “tablets.” Some 5,000 years later, we have come full circle to tablets again, only this time they are digitally dynamic, capable of receiving up-to-the-minute correct data. Due to their small size and portability, Sumerian clay tablets held concise, to the point messages in Cuneiform. Now that we are delivering content that was written for another medium to our new, iPhone-sized “tablets”, we need to reexamine the length and relevance of what we intend to deliver.

If I were wearing my Adobe Evangelist hat and wanted to make a shameless sales pitch, I would write about the ease of swapping templates in FrameMaker and Tech Comm Suite to shape content to resemble a small screen while you write. Or comment about single-source publishing from FrameMaker via RoboHelp to a variety of ePub formats. But that’s not my mission today.

Remembering what you hear can “measure” what would effectively display on an iPhone

Colleges provide different tracks for Broadcast Journalism vs. Print Journalism. Why? Because TV or Radio news content must be substantially shorter than what is written for newspapers or magazines. (Substitute your favorite digital equivalents for the media mentioned in the previous sentence.)  Our brains can process and remember more points when visible text is present. When we process information that we hear with no supporting visible text, we can handle about one thought per sentence. And sentences must be shorter; no longer than normal speed speech with one breath. (Please don’t consider my verbal speech/speed and words per breath as a good model to follow!) Continue reading…

Seeing is believing: FrameMaker, DITA and content “depth”

Since its inception, FrameMaker has provided a realistic page or output display during authoring or editing. This has occasionally led to criticism of the product for not being a “real” or “pure” DITA/XML solution. Most early DITA tools, and DITA Open Toolkit provide an approximation of output during editing. Tagged views of content are more common outside of FrameMaker.

This blog covers two kinds of “seeing is believing.” On one level, there is the issue of seeing the amount of content you have created, and on another level, there is the issue of being able to see the entire process required to achieve a DITA solution before you choose your authoring tools.

Shrinking platform displays give an advantage to FrameMaker’s realistic display

There are arguments for advantages to both the FrameMaker “what you see is what you get” and the traditional DITA view/tag “what you see is sort of what you’ll get” approaches. Ironically, the FrameMaker model is becoming more attractive due to significant changes in our content consumer expectations. Most tech comm authors have been used to multiple deliverables for years, e.g. to PDF and HTML/Web. Delivery platforms for content are rapidly increasing due to explosive proliferation of tablet computers and hi-rez smart phone devices. There is now a great variety in the sizes of screens that will frame and reshape the content we create.

Many of us have been used to two sizes and shapes for final output display, (a) standard letter paper size (PDF) and (b) approximate computer screen size for HTML (usually presumed to be horizontal laptop screen orientation.) Obviously, the landscape for content display has shrunk considerably; at the same time that content has become more nimble, being capable of displaying embedded rich media like 3D graphics and video screen capture. Obviously, we need to reexamine how we create and “preview” content before it is delivered in multiple ways. Note: I will be speaking more specifically on this topic in a presentation I am giving at Intelligent Content Conference this week, “Resizing content for the small screen.” Continue reading…

Beyond Pages and PDF: The changing role of Technical Communication

Much has been written about how the job title “technical writer” or “technical editor” is probably out-of-date. Today’s authors and editors of mission critical technical information have taken on new, hybrid roles. This is the perfect week to reflect on this topic as the Intelligent Content Conference meets in Palm Springs February 21st through February 24th.

Adobe is a key sponsor for this event, and I will be delivering an early morning presentation on “Reshaping Content for the Small Screen.”

Content Curation

Tech comm publishers must gather and filter information from ever widening channels and feeds of evolving source material. It may seem a bit like trying to fill water cooler bottles from Niagara Falls. The key to Content Curation is “intelligence”, the ability to discern what is relevant for the product, for the mission and for the intended information consumer.

Scott Abel wrote an excellent blog on Content Curation for The Content Wrangler just over a year ago  that is worth rereading: “Content Curation: Streamlining The Process Of Populating Your Social Networks With Relevant, Interesting and Engaging Content.” Although this blog focuses on social media, it covers the dynamics that are shaping the attention span and expectations of almost any technical content consumers.

Images in motion

A series of progressive, static screen captures is often no longer adequate to engage and inform the tech comm consumer. Since so much of the workforce is being conditioned by hours of viewing YouTube and other video content, not suprisingly, many consumers become impatient having to page through 17 pages of captioned static images rather than watch a 7 second motion capture.

Fortunately, Tech Comm Suite delivers an excellent solution, enabling authors to embed dynamic media (from Captivate and other sources) directly into FrameMaker source files. A poster image will indicate the intent of the motion capture or video, and users can view dynamic motion illustrations in PDF or Help files.

Smaller and smaller screens: ePubs

We’ve all seen the overwhelming statistics of how dramatically iPad, Kindle and other eReaders and full functioned tablets grew in sales late last year. Over the past 18 months, a sizeable segment of information consumers have become adept at and used to finding engaging technical content on their smart phones.

Fortunately, Adobe’s Tech Comm Suite greatly simplifies the process of reducing, reformatting and repurposing FrameMaker source files into multiple versions o simpler, streamlined ePubs format via RoboHelp. Continue reading…