Unstruct Author Post #3: FrameMaker 11 new Productivity – Smart insert, line numbers, find/change etc.

Friday, October 26 2012 @ 5:33 PM, By Maxwell Hoffmann

This is our third in a series of parallel blogs covering unstructured FrameMaker 11, to balance blogs written by Kapil Verma which focus on the many enhancements to FrameMaker 11 for working with XML and DITA. More than ever, FrameMaker is an extremely potent authoring and editing tool for “unstructured” content, e.g. documents or books that do not have XML or DITA structure. A sizable segment of the market still authors unstructured content. Fortunately, unstructured FrameMaker documents can be swiftly transformed into DITA or XML when customers choose to make their content more flexible.

This blog will focus on several features that allow for more swifter authoring and more nimble editing that were added to FrameMaker 11. These improvements will be welcomed by veteran FrameMaker users who upgrade, as well as that segment of Microsoft Word users who have projects that have outgrown the capabilities of their software.

Smart Insert of catalog styles

When FrameMaker adopted a new user interface with the advent of Version 9, the ability to use keyboard shortcuts to apply paragraph and character styles diminished somewhat. Control key sequences used to open up a small window in the lower left corner of the old user interface, and allow the user to type the first few characters of the style name.

The feature has not only been restore, but substantially improved. When FrameMaker 11 users have cursor inserted in text, they may press Control+9 to display an “in place” paragraph catalog right next to the text that they wish to change. The screen capture to the right shows the result of pressing Control+9 in the paragraph that has a word highlighted in black.

Keyboard shortcuts can also be used to apply character tags (Control+8) and to apply or remove conditional text control tags from selected text (Control+4, Control+5 and Control+6.) There are a variety of “smart insert” commands that can also be used in structured editing, specific to XML and DITA.

Enhancements to the FIND/CHANGE command

FrameMaker 11 introduces what seems, on the surface, a minor change, which has major productivity impact. After clicking on the Find button, your focal point will stay in the FIND/CHANGE menu, it will not revert to found selected text. With previous releases of FrameMaker, there was some risk of deleting found text if the user accidentally hit delete.

Also, when the user selects a word or phrase before invoking the FIND command, that text will automatically be copied into the “find text” field, if the FIND command is set to search for text. This can be seen in the screen capture to the right.

Here is a summary of improvements to this feature:

  • 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

Automatic line numbering in page margins, even in multiple columns

I think that this is one of those features that users have periodically requested “since God was in Jr. High School.” Well, it has finally arrived. You can now do the following:

  • Toggle the display of line numbers on and off from the View menu
  • Line numbers will print if displayed
  • Line numbers will automatically adjust for text size and line spacing
  • Line numbers will accompany each line of paginating text, even in multiple columns
  • Line numbers may restart on each page or number continuously throughout the document
  • Users can control size, color and font for line numbers under Forma->Document->Line Numbers

In the screen capture to the right, the user has customized the line numbers to be in a flashy font, Britannic Bold, 10 point size and red. Notice how the numbers track the smaller paragraph text near the bottom.

FYI — the ability to publish line numbers to PDF file for review is literally a god-send for customers who have content published in multiple languages. Many linguists who review PDF for linguistic quality assurance plant “note” comments in PDFs that are sometime ambiguous about the desired document location where a table or illustration should be relocated. In my experience while in Localization, it was not uncommon to find comments that said, “move this table under the third paragraph on the next page.” The only problem was that a series of edits had changed page breaks, and it was unclear as to which page break or paragraph the reviewer was referring to. Now he/she can make a notation, “please move this table before line 47 on PDF page 22″ … and whomever is making the edits can find the desire location in an instant.

This will reduce billable post-translation editing costs over time, and will have a positive impact in single-language project review as well.

How will you use it?

The possibilities with these new tools are as limitless as the profiles of our existing and potential customers. Who doesn’t want or need to created a richer, guided experience with interactive graphics to cut down on pages of successive screen captures? To discover how you can use FrameMaker, download a trial copy of FrameMaker 11 today. After having your own hands-on, you may decide in favor of the best bargain of all, obtaining a cloud subscription to the entire Tech Comm Suite 4, which includes RoboHelp 10, Captivate 6 and other products in addition to FrameMaker 11.

You may read about Object Styles more in-depth in the “FrameMaker 11 Reviewer’s Guide.”

Watch for Part 4 in this series on the usage of FrameMaker 11 in “unstructured” mode coming soon.

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