FrameMaker tips article in Indus

FrameMaker iconI recently contributed an article on my favorite FrameMaker tips to Indus, the newsletter of the India chapter of STC. Check out the article here!

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!

A curious case of broken cross-references

images (1).jpg

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.

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! :-)

FrameMaker: Making comments stand out

Consider this scenario: you’re working in a FrameMaker document that uses a lot of conditional tags, including the conditional tag defined for comments and editorial notes. If you need to work on incorporating comments, you can display all the conditional content in the document with the condition indicators visible. However, browsing your way through the multi-colored text to look for comments may be difficult.

Before.jpg

A simple workaround here could be applying a character tag to the comments and editorial notes in addition to the conditional formatting. This way, even when the condition indicators are hidden, the comments and editorial notes in the document stand out from the rest of the content.The screenshot below illustrates the character tag Comment-text applied to editorial notes.After.jpgFurther reading