What if you use FrameMaker 7.x and don’t want DITA? Upgrade to FM 10 anyway!

Tuesday, June 5 2012 @ 2:43 AM, By Maxwell Hoffmann

FrameMaker 10 is well worth the upgrade, even if you don’t use structure

There has been such an emphasis on DITA (due to popular demand) in recent months, that some people forget that all versions of FrameMaker, past and current, make excellent documents without DITA or XML.

So, if you’re still using FrameMaker 7.x, and you don’t have plans to move into DITA or structured editing, should you take advantage of the June upgrade to FrameMaker 10 promotion? Absolutely!

Please note the list of resource links at the end of the blog, and details on the short-lived promotion to upgrade your FrameMaker 7.x to FrameMaker 10 by June 15th.

Better control over formatting

The following are some key features in FrameMaker 10 that would make it well worth your while to upgrade from FrameMaker 7.x before June 15th, (when the promotion expires):

  1. Table Catalog
    Actual table catalog, that matches style and behavior of paragraph and character catalog makes product more logical and accessible to new users.
  2. Better Catalog management
    Paragraph, character and table catalogs will (a) display checks in front of styles currently used in documents, (b) let you display only styles in use, (c) let you restrict catalog display of styles to unused styles, (d) delete unused styles with one click and (e) create “custom lists” of any combination of styles you wish to display, out of alphabetical order.This last feature eliminates the common FrameMaker 7.x practice of putting “0_” prefixes in front of styles you wish at the top of the list and “z_” prefixes in front of styles you wish to display at the bottom of the list. Speaking from personal experience, this one feature would have saved me and my production team in translation agencies 100s of hours per year in unnecessary communications and documentation.
  3. Find and Correct Format Overrides
    FrameMaker 10 allows you to use the FIND feature to locate paragraph, character or table format overrides, which do not match catalog definitions. A single click of REMOVE OVERRIDE will restore the paragraph or selected text to its catalog definition. Again, this single feature can save 100s of hours per year for a small project team.
  4. Find and Replace missing fonts without modifying maker.ini
    Many of us have inherited documents that called out fonts that were not part of our libraries. There was a need to universally replace one missing font with another. With FrameMaker 7.x, this required an edit to the maker.ini file, a reboot of FrameMaker, and the font substitution took place on a “per session” basis.Have another set of fonts you wish to replace? Modify maker.ini again, reboot and repeat.FrameMaker 10 allows a simple command in the pods at the bottom of the workspace, in which you simply double click on a missing font. A “replace font” dialogue appears, and you may specify the substitution. You can use this function on a “per-document” basis with FrameMaker 10, vs. the “per session / maker.ini” solution in FrameMaker 7.x.

Role based publishing with custom workspaces

Training and ramp up time is an issue for any authoring solution, with or without DITA/XML. Adding structured editing certainly increases the time required for training. Regarding how thoroughly the workforce is trained, how often do you receive Word documents from people who do not know how to insert page headers and footers?

FrameMaker 10 uses workspaces in which menus may be docked or displayed in a variety of ways. It is also possible to “hide” certain pull-down menus (e.g. formatting) with the usage of short, simple, config files.

How can you benefit from this? When using FrameMaker 10, if you have a rush job and you only have a couple of hours to train a new team member, you can swiftly create a custom workspace that confines menus and command choices to just the functions required. Typically, with FrameMaker 7.x, since unwanted pull-down menus are present, new users are more prone to “contaminate” an unstructured document with unwanted format overrides.

 More productive user interface

With FrameMaker 10, you can “collapse” floating menus (e.g. a paragraph catalog or paragraph designer) by double clicking on the grey bar at the top of the menu. This functions much like third part “window shade” software on older Macintosh software.

Documents may be dragged outside of the workspace and onto another screen. When working with multiple files, you no longer have to painfully “stretch” your FrameMaker 7.x window across multiple monitors.

The new user interface is also far better suited to smaller screens, like Netbooks or laptops. If you need to edit FrameMaker documents on an airplane (even in economy!) you’ll find it far easier to do with FrameMaker 10 than with FrameMaker 7.x

Handy list of references

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