RoboHelp: Printed documentation error

The Word VBA macro version registered is incorrect. Please reinstall printed documentation.

If you encounter the above error message while trying to generate printed documentation from a RoboHTML project, change the macro security settings in Microsoft Word.

Follow these steps to change the macro security settings in Word 2007:
  1. Click the Office button > Word options > Trust Center > Trust Center Settings.
  2. Change Macro Settings to Enable all macros and then click OK.
  3. Generate printed documentation output from RoboHTML.
Peter Grainge has a useful page on his website summarizing RoboHelp print issues. Do take a look!

Find: Much beyond text…

FrameMaker iconYou can use the Find/Change feature in FrameMaker to look for many different kinds of objects across a book or in a document.

Find.jpg

In particular, Find Unresolved Cross Reference saves me grueling hours of troubleshooting when I’m generating PDFs.

Read more about the search functionality in FrameMaker in this Help article. For tips and best practices on creating PDFs from FrameMaker documents, see this handbook.

PDF watermarks: Settings that work for me

When you add watermarks to a PDF document, you want them to be visible unobtrusively. The following settings for the Watermark tool in Acrobat (Document > Watermark > Add) work best for me:

Font: Arial
Size: Varies. For shorter watermarks like the word Draft, 72 pt works well.
Color: Pure red (R: 255, G: 0, B:0)
Rotation: 45°
Opacity: One notch above zero on the slider (12%)
Location: Appear on top of page

Watermark.jpg

If required, you can specify different watermarks for different sets of pages. Click Page range options in the Add Watermark dialog box to do this.


To understand how you can work with watermarks in Acrobat 9, see this Help article.

Enable PDF text edits for text embedded in a screenshot

Acrobat icon.jpgConsider you have to complete a UI content review for the product you work on. Wouldn’t things be easier if you could use Acrobat text-edit-markup features to highlight the relevant content embedded in images? Of course, you can always add a sticky note in an approximate location, but that isn’t quite as effective!

So how do you enable PDF text edits for embedded text? Here’s how:
  1. Paste the screenshot in your favorite word-processing or layout tool. For example, FrameMaker.
  2. Generate a PDF of the page containing the screenshot.
  3. Open the PDF in Acrobat and select Document > OCR Text Recognition > Recognize Text Using OCR.
  4. Once the text recognition process is over, you’ll be able to select the embedded text and use the Acrobat text edit tools on it.
Screenshot for blog post.jpg
This Help article discusses Acrobat text edit features in greater detail. For more information about the OCR features in Acrobat 9, refer to this Help article.

Automating conference registration using LiveCycle Designer

livecycle.jpgLast year, I had an opportunity to help automate the registration process for the STC India Conference 2009. I created a PDF form using LiveCycle Designer and designed a simple workflow around it.

The presentation at this link discusses this workflow, together with guidelines for both form authors and end users. A snapshot of the workflow is captured in the schematic below.

workflow.jpg

Some 475 delegates registered using the form without any glitches.

Conference registration is, of course, just one of the examples of the numerous processes that you can automate using LiveCycle Designer. The tool is easy-to-use and provides templates and boilerplate forms that you can customize for your requirements. Through custom JavaScript/FormCalc scripting, you can easily fine-tune any aspect of the PDF form. For example, in the form in question, I used JavaScript to allow “conditional access” to fields. Thus, “field A” accepts input only when “field B” has a certain value, and so on.

If you are looking for the right learning resources to get started with LiveCycle Designer, refer to Adobe LiveCycle Designer ES2 Help (HTML). If you are looking for more information about the product or want to download a free trial copy, visit this page.

Linking to a page within a PDF (and more!)

Acrobat icon.jpgIf you have a PDF document live on the Web, can you link to a specific page within it instead of the PDF opening at the title page? Absolutely! The page=<pagenum> parameter let’s you do just that.

For example, try http://blogs.adobe.com/samartha/Handbook/pdf_handbook.pdf#page=8. When you click this link, the destination PDF opens directly at page 8.
There are several other parameters that you can specify when you open or link to a PDF document. The following parameters I think are especially useful:
For more information, see Parameters for Opening PDF Files (PDF) in the Acrobat SDK documentation set.

Download the free PDF production handbook

Creating a final, print-quality PDF from FrameMaker documents can be an involved, multi-step process. We thought it would be useful to capture all relevant considerations and steps in a single handbook that could be immediately put to use in real-world situations.

The following sections are included in this handbook:
  • Relevant scenario
  • Prerequisites
  • Important considerations
  • Equip yourself with relevant details
  • Stage 0: Prepare the content
  • Stage 1: Clean up the source
  • Stage 2: Prepare the book and create PDF
  • Stage 3: Test the PDF
  • Stage 4: Prepare the PDF for publication
  • Stage 5: Optimize the PDF in Acrobat
  • Appendix: Best practices for using conditional text
  • Appendix: Keeping track of content changes across versions in a collaborative environment
Click this link to download the handbook: pdf_handbook.pdf.

And yes, feel free to share it with your colleagues and friends!

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.

Resolved.jpg

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.

Unresolved.jpg

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.