Technical Communication Suite 3 is here!

Technical Communication Suite 3 has now gone live!

Some of the new features include:

  • Robust single sourcing and publishing to multiple devices including ePub from both FrameMaker and RoboHelp environments (TCS special versions).
  • Seamless review and collaboration.
  • Improved cross-product integration.
  • Complete suite supports scripting, thus strengthening automation workflows.
  • Improved search capability in the outputs.
  • Ability to directly link DITA files.
  • Rich multi-media support
  • And More…

For updates and helpful information, stay tuned to this blog! Visit the product page here on Adobe.com.

PDF watermarks: Settings that work for me

When you add watermarks to a PDF document, you want them to be visible unobtrusively. The following settings for the Watermark tool in Acrobat (Document > Watermark > Add) work best for me:

Font: Arial
Size: Varies. For shorter watermarks like the word Draft, 72 pt works well.
Color: Pure red (R: 255, G: 0, B:0)
Rotation: 45°
Opacity: One notch above zero on the slider (12%)
Location: Appear on top of page

Watermark.jpg

If required, you can specify different watermarks for different sets of pages. Click Page range options in the Add Watermark dialog box to do this.


To understand how you can work with watermarks in Acrobat 9, see this Help article.

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.
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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.

Automating conference registration using LiveCycle Designer

livecycle.jpgLast year, I had an opportunity to help automate the registration process for the STC India Conference 2009. I created a PDF form using LiveCycle Designer and designed a simple workflow around it.

The presentation at this link discusses this workflow, together with guidelines for both form authors and end users. A snapshot of the workflow is captured in the schematic below.

workflow.jpg

Some 475 delegates registered using the form without any glitches.

Conference registration is, of course, just one of the examples of the numerous processes that you can automate using LiveCycle Designer. The tool is easy-to-use and provides templates and boilerplate forms that you can customize for your requirements. Through custom JavaScript/FormCalc scripting, you can easily fine-tune any aspect of the PDF form. For example, in the form in question, I used JavaScript to allow “conditional access” to fields. Thus, “field A” accepts input only when “field B” has a certain value, and so on.

If you are looking for the right learning resources to get started with LiveCycle Designer, refer to Adobe LiveCycle Designer ES2 Help (HTML). If you are looking for more information about the product or want to download a free trial copy, visit this page.

Linking to a page within a PDF (and more!)

Acrobat icon.jpgIf you have a PDF document live on the Web, can you link to a specific page within it instead of the PDF opening at the title page? Absolutely! The page=<pagenum> parameter let’s you do just that.

For example, try http://blogs.adobe.com/samartha/Handbook/pdf_handbook.pdf#page=8. When you click this link, the destination PDF opens directly at page 8.
There are several other parameters that you can specify when you open or link to a PDF document. The following parameters I think are especially useful:
For more information, see Parameters for Opening PDF Files (PDF) in the Acrobat SDK documentation set.

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!

Important Hotfix for FrameMaker

If you face problems with FrameMaker 7/8 suddenly crashing when you try to generate PDF files, you’re probably missing a hotfix that Microsoft has released for FrameMaker. This hotfix solves some other issues as well.

Try these links:
A related blog post on the Adobe Technical Communication blog is here.

Fix broken cross-references in PDF files

It can be challenging to fix broken cross-references in long documents — 500 pages, for example. Resolving the cross-reference(s) in the source FrameMaker file and then generating the PDF all over again isn’t the only way out. With Acrobat, you can easily fix broken cross-references in the PDF itself. Here’s how:
  1. In Acrobat 9, click Tools > Advanced Editing > Link Tool.
  2. Double-click a highlighted cross-reference.
  3. On the Action page in the Link Properties dialog, select Go to a page view from the Select Action drop-down menu. Click Add.
  4. gotoapageview.jpg

  5. Scroll to the destination page for the link and click Set Link.
See http://bit.ly/1Xpucp for the Adobe Help article on creating links in PDF files.

Download the Top Ten Acrobat Tips brochure

Acro.jpgHere we go! The Top Ten Acrobat Tips brochure is here.

Please feel free to print it and pass it on to your colleagues and friends. Your suggestions and queries are welcome!

My colleague, Nandini Gupta, has shared the Top Ten RoboHelp Tips brochure at her blog.

Quicker review cycles with FM9

As a technical communicator, you’ve probably sent more PDFs out for review than any other type of file. Reviewers add their comments, which you incorporate by comparing the PDF file with the source .fm document. So far, but not anymore! FrameMaker 9 lets you import PDF comments directly into your documents.

It’s a simple three-step workflow that you can now follow for reviews:

1. Generate a tagged PDF out of the FM file and send it for shared review. To do this, check Generate PDF For Review Only in the PDF Setup dialog box.

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See Tagged PDF in the online FM documentation for details on tagged PDFs.

2. Let reviewers add their suggestions using the commenting features in Adobe Acrobat — sticky notes, text edits, text highlights, and so on.

3. Import the comments back into the source .fm file and choose which ones to keep. Before importing comments, FrameMaker lets you select if you want to import all comments or only comments of a specific kind.

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An important prerequisite here is to not modify the source FrameMaker file after sending the tagged PDF for review until comments have been imported back into it. This ensures that the comments are inserted into their exact location in the FrameMaker document. The FM import summary dialog reports the number of comments that were inserted into an approximate location, but not their exact intended place.Untitled-3.jpg

After import, PDF comments are inserted into the FrameMaker document as tracked text edits, text formatting, or markers. In particular, sticky notes from the PDF are imported as markers. Use the Markers pod to read and manage these markers.

Untitled-5.jpgYour source document will look something like the screenshot below after PDF comments have been imported into it.

Untitled-4.jpg

It’s a few weeks now since I began using this feature, and I’ve found it quite a time saver. Read the Adobe Help article on this feature to get hooked onto it straightaway. For a list of other cool features in FrameMaker 9, click here.