New FrameMaker user’s guide: sliced, diced, and enhanced

v2_fm_iconOver the years, many of you from the FrameMaker community shared rich feedback on the content and structure of the FrameMaker user’s guide. We’ve been listening and we’ve spent several busy months acting on the feedback to create an improved user’s guide that meets your content requirements better.

So, what exactly has changed? As we analyzed your feedback, some key themes emerged:

  • Content organization: FrameMaker is a powerful product packed with rich functionality. However, not all users use all of its functionality all the time. While improving the guide, we made a conscious attempt to minimize scattering of information and keep content around related features together. For example, information about using structured authoring features forms two neat chapters in the new user’s guide. This information was spread across several chapters in the earlier user’s guide.
  • Workflow-based approach: The new user’s guide makes it easier for you to just get things done. We’ve tried to step into your shoes and figure out what information you’d need and in what order. That you’d shared useful feedback over the years made our job a lot easier. So, whether it’s managing graphics or single-sourcing content, we walk you through relevant concepts and tasks in an order congruent with FrameMaker workflows. With apologies to Coleridge, might we say, the best content in the best order?
  • Responsive content experience: Content experience is two words—content and experience. We know you’re connected 24/7 and that you access instructional content on your devices. On your desktop, the new FrameMaker user’s guide opens in a little content viewer app of its own. When you access the content on a smaller screen, it is displayed in a responsive layout, ensuring a seamless content experience.

    Viewing the new FrameMaker user’s guide on a smartphone

  • Visual treatment: Wherever possible, we’ve tried to pull down the wall of words that traditional documentation is. So, as you glance through the new user’s guide, expect to see visuals and illustrations that help demystify a complex concept or task. Not sure how you can publish across multiple channels? Well, see it for yourself.
  • Discoverability: You turn to the user’s guide trying to find answers to questions that are blocking your everyday work. That’s why we kept titles in the new user’s guide crisp and the content search-friendly. So, whether you search on Adobe.com or Google, you can expect to find a useful Help article that helps you get back to your work as quickly as possible.
  • Resource ecosystem: We want the new user’s guide to be more than just your first stop for information on everything FrameMaker. We want it to be also the launchpad that propels you to other, often advanced, sources of information on the web. Hop right over to the appendix at the end to view a list of select FrameMaker resources. We promise to keep the list updated as more resources become available.

What we place in your hands today is just the version one of the improved user’s guide. Your feedback has helped us get it to this stage, and your feedback will be pivotal as we try to refine it even further. Keep the wishlists coming; we’re making a careful note of them.

And now that we’ve said enough, here are the links to the new guide:

HTML: http://help.adobe.com/en_US/FrameMaker/12.0/Help/Using/index.html
PDF: http://help.adobe.com/en_US/FrameMaker/12.0/Help/using-framemaker-12.pdf

Happy reading!

Sneak peeks: FrameMaker 10 and RoboHelp 9

Sneak peeks into Adobe FrameMaker 10 and Adobe RoboHelp 9 are now out, courtesy RJ Jacquez, Adobe’s senior product evangelist.

  • First Adobe RoboHelp 9 Sneak Peek: SharePoint & Cloud-based Reviews – visit this URL
  • First Adobe FrameMaker 10 Sneak Peek: Rich Media – visit this URL
  • [Edit: December 2, 2010] Second Adobe RoboHelp 9 Sneak Peek: How RoboHelp lets you publish directly to a Microsoft SharePoint workspace – visit this URL and scroll to the bottom (same URL as the first RoboHelp 9 sneak peek)

Hope you enjoy watching these videos. I’ll share more information about these exciting releases in the weeks to come. Stay tuned!

RoboHelp tips article in Indus

RH-icon.jpgNandini Gupta and I recently contributed an article on our favorite RoboHelp tips to Indus, the newsletter of the India chapter of STC. Check out the article here!

The May issue of Indus carried an article on my favorite FrameMaker tips. Check that one out here!

FrameMaker, CMS, XML, and DITA eSeminars

Exciting news! Adobe is teaming up with partners to organize eSeminars on FrameMaker, CMS, XML, and DITA.

There are two eSeminars coming up in June:
  • Integrating Adobe FrameMaker 9 with Documentum to maximize content reuse with Linked2 on June 22
  • Sense out of Confusion: Streamline your Authoring by transitioning from unstructured to DITA XML on June 24
Stay tuned with RJ Jacquez’s blog for information about the contents of the eSeminars and to register.

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!

Embed a TOC in a FrameMaker document

FrameMaker iconLet’s discuss an easy way to embed a file-level TOC in a FrameMaker document. We’ll generate a standalone TOC for the document and then import it by reference into the same document.

Here’s how:

  1. Open the FrameMaker document.
  2. Click Special > Table of Contents. When FrameMaker prompts if you want to create a standalone TOC, say Yes.
  3. In the Set Up Table of Contents dialog, select the paragraph tags that you want to include in the TOC. Click Set. FrameMaker creates a separate TOC file and stores it in the directory where your FrameMaker document is stored.
  4. Open the new TOC and format it as necessary. You may want to change the font styles/sizes for the TOC paragraphs and set tab stops/leaders.
  5. 1.jpg

  6. Now, open the parent FrameMaker document, place the cursor at the intended insertion point (usually the beginning of the file), and then click File > Import > File. Select the external TOC file and click Import.
  7. Retain the default settings in the Import Text Flow by Reference dialog box and click Import. FramaMaker imports the TOC by reference into the parent document.
  8. 2.jpg

Now, whenever you update the external TOC, simply select the embedded text inset in the parent document and click Update in the Text Inset Properties pod.

3.jpg

Here’s some further suggested reading:

Top ten FrameMaker conversion tips

Simon Bate has posted his top ten FrameMaker conversion tips over at the Scriptorium blog. Pretty interesting stuff! Do take a look.

As for our FrameMaker tips that he refers to in his post, you can download the PDF from this link.

Enjoy!

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.

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.

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!