Book-wide variables and attributes

FrameMaker iconYour FrameMaker documents may have many variables that are common across all files in a book. If you’re using unstructured FrameMaker, you can set these variables in one of the files in the book and then use the File > Import > Formats command to import these variables into the other files.

If you also plan to import paragraph format properties from this file, ensure that it uses all the common styles used across the book. For example, if some of the files in the book have <Heading 4> topics and the file you’re importing formats from has none, you may notice formatting (and numbering) anomalies in the final PDF. In such a case, it is recommended that you set and import variables and paragraph formats from a file that has <Heading 4> topics.

Import Formats.jpg

See “Import formatting properties” and “Import formats from a template or document” topics in FrameMaker Help for more insight.

If you’re using structured FrameMaker, you can have book-level attributes and use them (for instance) in running header/footer variables using the <$attribute[AttributeName]> or <$attribute[AttributeName:ElementName]> building block.

Important Hotfix for FrameMaker

If you face problems with FrameMaker 7/8 suddenly crashing when you try to generate PDF files, you’re probably missing a hotfix that Microsoft has released for FrameMaker. This hotfix solves some other issues as well.

Try these links:
A related blog post on the Adobe Technical Communication blog is here.

A curious case of broken cross-references

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Sometimes, when you insert a cross-reference to a paragraph, the first word in the paragraph is conditional. The cross-reference marker that FrameMaker inserts then also becomes conditional and takes the condition tag settings of the first word. This marker is hidden when you hide the conditions of the first word. As a result, if the condition-tag settings of the cross-reference and of the cross-reference marker differ, you end up with a mysterious unresolved cross-reference!

Consider the screenshot below. Here, the first word in the cross-referenced paragraph is conditional. However, since all conditions are currently displayed, the Cross-References pod in FrameMaker 9 shows the corresponding cross-reference as resolved.


Now, consider the illustration below. Once the condition for the first word of the cross-referenced paragraph is hidden, the Cross-References pod indicates that the corresponding cross-reference is broken.


To avoid this situation, select just the cross-reference marker at the beginning of the source paragraph, and make it unconditional. This way, the marker will always be visible. The cross-reference will now be resolved regardless of the conditions visible.

See this Help article to understand how you can apply or remove conditional tags to text. For greater insight into issues that you may face while working with conditional text, see this overview article, especially the Planning conditional documents section.

Fix broken cross-references in PDF files

It can be challenging to fix broken cross-references in long documents — 500 pages, for example. Resolving the cross-reference(s) in the source FrameMaker file and then generating the PDF all over again isn’t the only way out. With Acrobat, you can easily fix broken cross-references in the PDF itself. Here’s how:
  1. In Acrobat 9, click Tools > Advanced Editing > Link Tool.
  2. Double-click a highlighted cross-reference.
  3. On the Action page in the Link Properties dialog, select Go to a page view from the Select Action drop-down menu. Click Add.
  4. gotoapageview.jpg

  5. Scroll to the destination page for the link and click Set Link.
See for the Adobe Help article on creating links in PDF files.

Download the Top Ten Acrobat Tips brochure

Acro.jpgHere we go! The Top Ten Acrobat Tips brochure is here.

Please feel free to print it and pass it on to your colleagues and friends. Your suggestions and queries are welcome!

My colleague, Nandini Gupta, has shared the Top Ten RoboHelp Tips brochure at her blog.

Download the Top Ten FrameMaker Tips brochure

Timages (1).jpghe Adobe booth at the STC India Conference had free brochures sharing our top ten tips for FrameMaker, RoboHelp, and Acrobat. You’ve already read the FrameMaker tips in some recent blog posts.

Download the complete brochure from this link. Feel free to pin it to your cubicle wall. As always, your suggestions and queries are most welcome!

Top Ten FrameMaker Tips – Part 3

1. Track changes as you go

Track the changes in text as you edit your FrameMaker documents.

In FrameMaker, select Special > Track Text Edits and use the options under this menu to quickly enable, preview, accept, or reject changes. See this feature in action here.

2. Optimize The Settings For Generating PDF Files

Use the PDF Setup dialog box to optimize the size of the generated PDFs, control SWF file and 3D object embedding, and create tagged PDFs to enable importing PDF comments. See this link for more information.

3. Make Change Bars Invisible In Interim PDFs

If you want to preserve change bars in the source but hide them in an interim PDF, set their color to white in the Change Bar Properties dialog box. Turn them back to black when you edit the source.

In FrameMaker, select Format > Document > Change Bars. See this earlier blog post for more information.

4. Import PDF Comments

Directly import comments from the PDF document that you set up for shared review. The FrameMaker content gets updated with the edits and comments. Choose the comments that you want to incorporate and discard the rest!

In FrameMaker, select File > Import > PDF Comments.

See this feature in action here. For the earlier blog post about this feature, see this page.

Top Ten FrameMaker Tips – Part 2

5. Manage Content Changes Across Document Versions

Use the Compare Documents feature in FrameMaker to create a consolidated document in which changes between versions are highlighted with inserted and deleted conditional tags. This feature is especially useful in collaborative environments that make use of a source control system.
  • Open both versions of the document.
  • In the newer version, choose File > Utilities > Compare Documents.

See this article in FrameMaker online Help for more information.

6. List And Manage Conditional Text

Use the Conditional Text pod and panels to easily manage complex usage of
conditional text:
  • In the Conditional Text pod, double-click the condition tag.
  • In the Conditional Text panel, sort, edit, or delete text, tables, and graphics tagged with the condition you selected.

For more information, see this Help article.

7. Launch PDF Reviews From Within FrameMaker

Launch a shared review with just a click.

  • Select File > Save As PDF (Send for Review).

Top Ten FrameMaker Tips – Part 1

8. Selectively Apply Change Bars

Gain exact control on what you want to mark with change bars–especially when you are proofing the source. Instead of turning the change bars on:
  • Select the text you want to mark, and then press Ctrl+Shift+H to apply change bars.
  • To remove the change bar applied, select the character, word, sentence, or paragraph and then press Ctrl+Shift+H again.
9. Capture Screenshots On The Fly
Launch RoboScreenCapture to quickly capture screenshots, add callouts, or manipulate images directly in the content.
  • Select File > Launch RoboScreenCapture.
(This feature is available only in the FrameMaker edition bundled with the Adobe Technical Communication Suite)

10. Get The Workspace That Suits Your Work

Select a suitable workspace from the top right corner of the title bar to load all the relevant pods and panels automatically.

For example, use the Manage Content workspace when you are editing
the document and fixing cross-references and variables.
For more information, see

Searching for ‘missing’ text in FrameMaker documents

Consider this: You are searching for a term in your FrameMaker document and FM says it can’t find the term! You are sure that the term is there — it is the name of the product that you are documenting. You are worried.

Stop for a moment and think:

  • Is it plain text or a variable? If you inserted the product name as a variable, FrameMaker won’t look for text inside the variables.
  • Is it inside a text inset? To look for text inside a text inset, either flatten the text inset to inline text or create a PDF from the FrameMaker document and search in it.To flatten a text inset, navigate to it from the Insets pod. Now, double click the inset and click Convert to Text.
  • Has the text that you are searching for been applied with a conditional text tag? Set all conditions to show and then search again.
  • Does the text contain any special formatting? For example, you’d put a non-breaking space between two words in the product name to prevent the product name from appearing truncated at line breaks. Turn on the Text Indicators to see if this indeed is the case. The following screenshot demonstrates how a non-breaking space would appear in the text.
  • Untitled-1.jpg

See this article in FrameMaker Help to see how you can input special characters in the Find dialog box.

Even if you search for the text with all the above considerations taken into account, it is a good practice to create a PDF with the required Show/Hide settings, and then search in it for the text that you want to find.

Happy searching! 🙂