It is my pleasure to announce the availability of the new versions of FrameMaker line of products. Yesterday, we launched FrameMaker 11 and FrameMaker Publishing Server 11 (FrameMaker server has been re-branded to FrameMaker Publishing Server to better communicate the product’s value to our users). Watch the video below to learn more
The FrameMaker 11 release comes at a time when many changes are happening in the Technical Communications landscape and Technical Communications professionals are continuously being asked to “Do more with less”! As you will see shortly, this has been one of the main themes of this release. We have focused on providing several capabilities to empower our users to be more productive in their daily tasks, and to effectively manage the tremendous and exciting changes happening in the industry!
Before I go into the major enhancements in this release, let me go over the key trends in the Technical Communications space the way we see them, as they have had a significant influence in shaping the strategy of this release. There are four main trends and they are as follows.
- Momentum for structured authoring remains strong: Several organizations have and continue to migrate to structured authoring, and there are many reasons for this shift. Some of the main drivers of the business case include content re-use (which drives lower localization and content production costs), consistency in documents, separation of content from formatting, and need to seamlessly exchange information etc. Some of the industry surveys tell us that an increasing number of organizations are adopting structured authoring. From the attached graphic (click to see a larger version), you can see that the number of respondents who reported that they are already doing structured authoring, almost doubled from 15% in 2008 to ~30% in 2009, and then jumped to 42% in 2011. Also, a significant additional number of respondents stated that they are moving in the direction of structured authoring, which means that this number may be even higher in the future. So, the momentum towards structured authoring remains quite strong
- Rapid Mobile penetration driving major implications on technical content distribution: We all know how ubiquitous smartphones and tablets are becoming in our lives. All of us are using them to access information, to connect with our friends, to entertain ourselves and to do productivity/office related work. In the attached graphic, you can see how rapidly the smartphones and tablet category has grown in terms of annual shipments. In fact, the number of smartphones shipped globally surpassed the PC shipments for the first time last year by a margin of 32%! So, it is safe to say that we will be living in a very different world few years down the road, wherein people will be consuming a lot of content on these devices instead of their PCs. This trend has huge implications for Technical Communication professionals as well, as the need for accessing technical content on these devices continues to grow.
- Increasing usage of rich media in technical communication: Attention spans are decreasing and people want to get the right information at the right time and through the right medium! An increasing number of Technical Communication professionals are leveraging multimedia in their content to “make it come alive” and to provide more engagement to the end users. In the attached graphic, you can see how various types of multimedia assets are already being used by professionals to make their content be more engaging. We expect this trend to continue going forward as well as more and more technical communicators will be leveraging videos, 3D, graphics etc. to make their content more engaging.
- Challenging economic conditions result in the need to “do more with less”: Macroeconomic conditions, explosion of devices, budget cuts, increasing globalization are among several factors that are putting increasing demands on Technical Communications professionals to produce more output sometimes with same or fewer resources. This is resulting in a need for technical communications professionals to amplify their productivity to meet this challenge. This trend is best illustrated in a recent survey conducted by writers UA. In this chart, you can see a significant number of UA professionals are reporting an increase in their workload due to staff changes (42%) and increase in either the number or the scope of projects they are working on (23%). So, the need of the hour is clearly to “do more with less”!
These major trends have been at the forefront of our minds in our planning for the new release of FrameMaker. With these in mind, let’s take a look at the major enhancements in this release.
Meet the challenges “head on”, with enhanced support for structured/XML authoring
Multi-view XML authoring environment
In FrameMaker 11, we are very pleased to introduce the multi-view XML authoring environment. As part of this environment, authors will be able to work with the XML source natively in FrameMaker with the new XML code view. Authors will be able to create or modify XML files, work with elements and attributes and create valid XML content as per the rules in the DTD. The workflow is seamless as it doesn’t require the user to close and open any files, or to save any files. With an XML file that is currently open in FrameMaker 11, the user can seamlessly switch to the XML code view and continue to edit the XML source in this view.
Furthermore, we are also introducing a new and simplified XML Author View, which provides a stripped down environment suitable for XML authoring. This view doesn’t have any pagination, side heads, formatting options and has an overall simplified menu structure. Lastly, these views are in addition to the current WYSIWYG view and can be customized further including the ability to hide any of these views for a given user.
See the video below to learn more about the XML code view
Support for XML technologies
Furthermore, we have enhanced our support for related XML tools. We now have support for XPath 2.0 and XSLT 2.0. XPath is a W3C standard and now FrameMaker users can run XPath expressions to query and navigate through elements and attributes in an XML document. When in XML View, XPath expressions can be run on individual XML documents, all open documents, folders or on a DITAmap/book. XPath expressions can be run through the toolbar or the query builder pod available in XML code view, and the user can easily navigate to the results through the Xpath pod. See the video below to learn more about XPath support in FrameMaker 11.
Besides XPath, XML experts will love the ability to run XSLT from within FrameMaker 11. With XSLT you can instantly transform XML from one standard to another or process one or more files, filtering or splitting content based on this W3C standard. As an example, you can transform your XML content to HTML, which can then be viewed in a browser. Users will be able to simply run transformations by specifying an XSL. Alternatively, they can create and save reusable transformations in an XML file. The reusable transformations include information such as the XSL file, and the path of the output files.
Enhanced publishing of DITA content
In FrameMaker 11, users can now automate book file creation from a DITAMap, automatically generating various components like Title page, ToC, List of Tables (LOT), List of Figures (LOF), Index etc. In earlier versions, this was a manual process, as one had to create these components and add them manually to the book. Now, one can generate these components automatically when saving a DITAmap to a book (both nested and flat books are supported) based on the settings stored in a file. Furthermore, one can choose different template files for different components in the book (e.g. chapter, section, subsection ToC, index etc.) and configure various numbering options (e.g. chapter, page numbering) in the settings file. We believe this feature will be a significant time saver and provide more control over the final published document. We hope that our users will be able to generate professional looking output more quickly from their DITA content with FrameMaker 11.
XML Performance improvement
We have made several improvements “under the hood” and optimized FrameMaker performance when working with XML content and DITAmaps. Files would open faster and publish faster. More details on this topic in a later blog post. Stay tuned!!
XML usability enhancements
Lastly, we have enhanced the usability of several XML workflows such as the new and improved XML dialog. Further, we are also providing straw man structure and banner text, which will be useful when creating new XML content. Also, users can now create untitled XML files (without the need to save them first), automatically assign IDs to DITA elements and work with a more streamlined Error console in XML workflows.
Provide even more interactivity with Multimedia in your technical content
Technical documentation is not limited to paper. As rich media and mobile formats continue to grow, our content needs to keep up as well. In FrameMaker 11, authors can provide even more interactivity and engaging content to the end users while working with multimedia.
See the attached sample PDF to try out the new 3D functionality in FrameMaker 11.This PDF and the interactive links were created in FrameMaker11. Also, this along with another sample document is available in the install directory of FrameMaker 11. You can access these samples by clicking on Help > Samples > MoreSamples > U3d>
Video support has been enhanced with the ability to import mp4 videos. Also, we have added the ability to add links to play, pause, rewind and even jump to specific cue points in the video (available with SWF and FLV video formats). Lastly, users will be able to set the video poster by selecting a frame from the video itself.
In FrameMaker 11, users can create clickable hotspots on variety of objects such as raster images, vector drawings, and graphic objects. Basically, you can create any supported shape in FrameMaker (e.g. rectangle, oval, polygon etc.) and convert that into a hotspot. You will be able to provide links to external URLs as well as internal hypertext marker locations within your document. End users when viewing the content (in PDF/web and even mobile, depending on the mobile viewer support) will be able to click on these hotspots and navigate to the specified destination.
Take your content to Mobile devices
In FrameMaker 11, we have made significant strides forward to enhance our support for mobile publishing. Now you can generate various mobile outputs using the new, improved and re-branded FrameMaker 11 Publishing Server (formerly known as FrameMaker Server, requires a separate purchase).
One of the most exciting aspects of FrameMaker Publishing Server is support of important new formats. FrameMaker Publishing Server supports direct output to EPUB 3.0, Kindle, Multiscreen (HTML5) and native Android application formats.
Lastly, FrameMaker Publishing Server enables automation and scheduling of publishing tasks. Together with the automation and scheduling features, you can now update eBooks as needed, or at scheduled intervals, ensuring the most up-to-date content is available to your users.
We will have a detailed blog post on this topic later! Stay tuned!
Do more with less!
Given the demands on the professionals in today’s environment, there is a growing need to “do more with less”. We have listened to this demand and provided a large numebr of enhancements in FrameMaker 11 to enables our users to be more productive. Here are just few of the items
FrameMaker 11 introduces an incredibly efficient way to repurpose content from HTML and Microsoft® Office applications such as Word, Excel and Outlook. The “Smart Paste” feature automatically recognizes the inherent structure of content on the clipboard, and converts that content to DITA-compliant structure in your file. User can copy content from these various sources and do a “smart paste” into a DITA file, and FrameMaker will not only paste the content but also wrap DITA tags around the content. Give it a try, it is definitely cool! Lastly, “Smart Paste” is provided out-of-the-box for DITA, but can be built for a custom XML structure as well.
Most FrameMaker catalogs now allow for inline insertion using the “Smart Insert” feature. The Smart Insert now shows at your insertion point, rather than below in the status bar. You can use Smart Insert to insert elements, change elements or wrap elements when doing structured authoring. Also, you can use this feature to apply para/char and even conditional tags. In addition to this keyboard focused authoring, we are also providing inline attribute editor, which you can bring up by pressing Esc-i-a-e, when the cursor is in an element.
Lastly, we have listened to user feedback, and changed the ways you navigate within the Smart Insert, reverting back to the more popular FrameMaker 8 catalog navigation behavior (i.e. press a character repeatedly and quickly to circle through the catalog list). We hope that our users will like it!
We’ve added an Object Style Designer and Catalog to allow automation of formatting when working with graphic objects such as images, anchored frames, and text frames etc. for consistent size and appearance. You can create and manage styles using the Object Syle Designer and apply them using the Object catalog. For example, you can create and apply an object style to all the anchored frames in a document to make them of the same size. We hope that this will be a huge time saver as well as a great tool for those working heavily with graphic objects in FrameMaker.
Several enhancements have been made to this commonly used dialog
- When you activate Find/Change with selected text, the Find field is automatically populated with the selection
- The dialog retains focus after performing a find. This allows you to more rapidly continue finding additional instances of your search criteria.
- FrameMaker now remembers the last 5 Find and Search items
- You can repeat your last search via the F3 (search forward) and Shift-F3 (search backward) keyboard shortcuts.
- Find/Change opens by default in an undocked state, making it easier to find among other panels and UI controls
FrameMaker 11 now has line numbers support now. View > Line Numbers. In addition, you have robust formatting options (in Format>Document>Line Numbers) and the ability to restart numbers on each page, or continue throughout the document.
Customize your FrameMaker Interface
Workspaces help keep things tidy in almost every Adobe application. In FrameMaker 11, you have three sets of workspaces, one each for the WYSIWYG, Authoring, and XML View. Further, there are several workspaces that are shipped along with the product. Now, in FrameMaker 11, you can customize your FrameMaker menus through the menu configuration (.cfg) files and associate those with a workspace. This way you can hide menu items in certain workspaces in addition to configuring toolbars. So, using this, you can customize you FrameMaker interface to show just the things you need, in other words, now you can create your very own FrameMaker!
Track Text Changes
We have added 2 buttons to the Track Text Edit toolbar. The “Accept Edit and Show Next” and “Reject Edit and Show Next”. These commands automatically direct focus on the next proposed comment, after you are done processing a particular comment. This should reduce the number of clicks needed when processing comments.
More header/footer variables and marker types
In FrameMaker, one can create running headers and footers in which the text changes from page to page. For example, the running header can contain the current section heading and the footer can contain the page number and some text typed directly into the background text frame. Previously, display of marker text via master page headers and footers was limited to 2 specific Running Header/Footer variables. We have added 6 more Running Header/Footer variables and marker types in FrameMaker 11.
Direct OLE support referencing in XML/DITA workflows
FrameMaker now directly supports OLE (Object Linking and Embedding) in XML/DITA files. If you wish to roundtrip OLE content such as Visio diagrams, PowerPoint files etc., now you can directly refer to these OLE objects by configuring a flag in maker.ini. Any changes to the underlying OLE object will be reflected in the FrameMaker file when you open it.
Achieve seamless integration with your CMS
Build tight integration, with less effort
In the past, FrameMaker has provided integration with several of the leading CMS including out-of-the-box connectors with EMC ® Documentum and Microsoft ® Sharepoint. Now with FrameMaker 11, it is easier than ever to build connectors to your own CMS with the new CMS connector framework. In this framework, we are exposing a new connector layer connector layer, in which we are providing APIs and Extend Script functions, which can be called by clients. Now, you can build connectors to your CMS (with very much similar functionality to the native connectors to EMC Documentum and Microsoft Sharepoint, that we ship with) and build your own custom functionality as well. You will be able to build a more seamless connection to your CMS and with less effort in FrameMaker 11.
Custom metadata support with native connectors
FrameMaker 11 has native connectors with EMC ® Documentum and Microsoft ® Sharepoint Connectors. Furthermore, in FrameMaker 11, we are providing the ability to work with custom attributes on both these leading CMS. Now you can bring in custom attributes and work with these, all using the native connectors that come with the product.
In this post, I haven’t covered all the new functionality. For a complete list of new features, refer to the following links
- FrameMaker 11 and FrameMaker 11 Publishing Server Reviewer’s guide has complete information and more than 20 videos along with how-to tasks for all the new features
- FrameMaker 11 User guide
- FrameMaker 11 Publishing Server User Guide
Also, you can learn more about the new release by going to the following links
- Watch new feature videos on our channels on YouTube and Adobe TV
- Detailed Version comparison chart
- FrameMaker 11 datasheet
- FrameMaker 11 Publishing Server datasheet
Furthermore, I will be hosting a webinar on August 7, 2012 from 10-11:30 AM US PST, where I will walk you through the new capabilities in Adobe FrameMaker 11. You can register for this free webinar here
Lastly, we are already starting to get some accolades on FrameMaker 11 Here is what people have said about the new release
- Some select quotes from the leading industry experts can be found here
- A detailed review of FrameMaker 11 by Scott Prentice of Leximation can be found here
In the coming weeks and months, I will be posting more details on the new features in both FrameMaker 11 and FrameMaker 11 Publishing Server on these pages. So stay tuned. Until the next post then….
Sr. Product Manager, FrameMaker and FrameMaker Publishing Server