Post #2: Making FrameMaker your “own” – How to customize the User Interface?

Friday, December 16 2011 @ 9:56 AM, By kverma

Hello All,

Warm Greetings from the Adobe FrameMaker team!

This blog post is the second in the series that we are doing in order to share complete and accurate information with our users on the product and its capabilities. The topic that we will discuss today is how to customize the FrameMaker User Interface.

FrameMaker has a long history and lot of new features have been added over the last several years. As a result, some users have suggested that the UI is becoming quite crowded with all this functionality. In this post, we will provide information on the various UI configurability options in FrameMaker. As we will see, FrameMaker UI is highly customizable and can be modified according to the organization’s and users’ specific needs, so that they see just the functionality that they want and nothing else.

Here are the 3 main ways in which the FrameMaker UI can be configured

  1. Workspaces
  2. Toolbars
  3. Menus

Workspace

Let us begin with the concept of workspaces. FrameMaker has workspaces that allow a user to configure the various UI elements i.e. toolbars, pods & panels according to the user’s needs. FrameMaker ships with a few default workspaces which are suitable for different user profiles and different stages of the documentation workflow. For example,

  • There are different workspaces meant for authors and reviewers, and these workspaces show only the relevant functionality for these different users. For instance, the “Authoring” workspace shows Paragraph, Table & Font catalogs, marker dialog and quick access toolbar where as the “Review” workspace exposes Cross Reference, Markers, Insets, Variables, References & Conditional Text pods and Quick Access  and Track Changes toolbars.
  • Similarly, there is a workspace called “Design” which exposes functionality suitable for template designers. UI elements exposed in this workspace are Paragraph, Table and Character designers, Add/Edit Conditional Tag and Add/Edit Variable dialogs.
  • Lastly, there is a workspace for XML authoring which exposes only the Structured Window, Element Catalog and Attribute Editor open along with the structured toolbar visible.

Moreover, these default workspaces can be customized further by the user according to his/her specific needs. Lastly, FrameMaker is flexible enough to let the user create totally new workspaces and customize not only which pods and panes are visible but where they are arranged. The concept of workspaces is highly flexible and gives lot of power to the users to choose the user interface they want to work with.

To watch these concepts in action, please watch the following video (from RJ Jacquez) which explains the usage of workspaces in detail (workspace customization can be seen at time 10:50 and 33:00 in the video)

http://tv.adobe.com/watch/tips-and-tricks-for-technical-communicators-to-maximize-productivity/getting-started-with-the-new-framemaker-9-user-interface/

Note: Although this video is on FrameMaker9, the concepts still hold true for FrameMaker10

Here are some additional links for understanding workspace configurability

 

Toolbars

FrameMaker provides the facility of adding custom toolbars or edit existing toolbars. Some configurability options supported in toolbar are as follows

  •  Change the icon (normal or rollover) of a particular item in toolbar.
  •  Modify commands that can be executed from the toolbar icon.
  • Changing the orientation of toolbar.
  • Change the docking of toolbar.
  • Add a new item to existing toolbar.
  • Add new custom toolbar.

Following blog post explains toolbar configurability in detail http://blogs.adobe.com/techcomm/2009/07/toolbars_in_framemaker9.html

 

Menu

FrameMaker is flexible enough to let a user choose which menu entries he/she wants to see. FrameMaker menu is read from a configuration file which is present at “<FrameMakerInstallDirectory>\fminit\fmstruct\menu.cfg

A user can take this default configuration file and modify it to change the menu entries in FrameMaker. This custom configuration can then be loaded in FrameMaker “View->Menus->Modify” menu entry.

The user can use this functionality to remove menu entries from the FrameMaker menu. For instance, an organization may want to remove the “Format” menu completely in an XML workflow since the formatting/styling information may come from a style sheet and any formatting done by the authors is not going to be retained in the XML file and hence, is unnecessary. Using the configuration file, one can achieve this by removing the formatting menu altogether from the FrameMaker interface.

The following video explains in detail how the FrameMaker menu can be customized using this method http://tmaldous.com/2011/01/18/framemaker-10-customizing-your-menu/

 

In summary, as you can see from the above, FrameMaker user interface is highly customizable and can be modified by the users to suit their specific needs. We hope that with this blog post, we have provided the much needed information on how to customize the FrameMaker UI and you will find it useful. Your comments are welcome.

 

Have a great weekend!

 

Regards,

Vimal Bhat – Engineering Manager, FrameMaker

Kapil Verma – Sr. Product Manager, FrameMaker and FrameMaker Server

COMMENTS

  • By Markus Wiedenmaier - 11:32 AM on December 16, 2011  

    Thanks for this post.
    One thing could be optimized with configuring toolbars for FDK clients and ExtendScripts. Toolbar settings are initialized before FDK clients/ExtendScripts are loaded. So it’s not possiblie to configure toolbar items for these additional functions.
    Because FM don’t these external cmds, you have to add these cmd names to cmds.cfg and set fcode to an existing cmd (i.e. Open Help). If a plugin is loaded this command is overriden and toolbar items works well.
    Initialization of toolbars should be made, when all plugins/scripts were loaded.
    Bye
    Markus

  • By Arnis Gubins - 4:49 PM on December 16, 2011  

    The menus for unstructured FM are located in a different folder: \fminit\maker\menu.cfg

    The elements in the toolbar and workspace XML files need to be *formally* documented (and should have a schema and perhaps even an EDD – so that one can edit these using FM as the XML editor).

    The workspace configuration is lacking a method to associate the customized menus with the workspace setup, placing an unnecessary onus on the user to still manually configure things for a complete UI experience.

  • By Georg Eck - 2:41 PM on December 19, 2011  

    Sample: There is an toolbar for FINALYSER available. You can call a plug-in or an ExtendScript.

  • By N Adamson - 5:59 PM on December 21, 2011  

    Although I have happily customized my FM10 workspace (and RoboHelp, Illustrator, Photoshop, Flash etc.) to use two monitors, Adobe could do a lot more to make the portability of these custom layouts easier. Just try moving your complete set of TS3 and CS5 application customizations to another workstation! There is no facility anywhere to export/import all your workspaces, toolbars, swatches, custom paper sizes, scripts etc., and the applications scatter them about the hard drive in an array of inconsistent folder locations. If you have to frequently move to another workstation, it is extremely awkward to get working quickly.

    I have had to write a DOS batch file (!) to collect all my customizations together, which is ridiculous in the year 2011 (even then it’s a real pain to install them correctly onto a different workstation). How about a little free Adobe application supplied with each suite (or every application) that does this nicely? Just click “Export my settings”, and it packages up all your chosen set of features (workspaces, swatches, paper sizes, scripts etc.), from all your Adobe applications, into a single file. Take that file on your USB stick to another workstation and choose “Import my settings”, and then choose which customizations to copy onto the new workstation.

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