Workspaces in FrameMaker 9

Tuesday, May 26 2009 @ 1:28 PM, By Nakshatra Bhardwaj


Tired of loading the modeless dialogs every time you start your FrameMaker? — The long awaited feature of Workspaces comes to your rescue. Workspace is a saved set of frequently used panels/toolbars/pods in a desired arrangement for repeated use. It also offers flexibility of screen usage, by allowing a user to place panels in numerous possible forms/arrangements (default, iconic, minimized, docked [left, right, bottom, top], floating, grouped) . Not only does the Workspace remember the dialogs that were open at the previous session but also their positions, size, state etc.


A Workspace created for doing same task may differ from user to user – the main criterion being the Panel Usage & Screen Space. For example, the Workspace “Authoring” may be useful while creation of a document as it contains frequently used panels that are required to be used with a new document/template creation, “Manage Graphics” Workspace may be used while working with graphics and similarly separate Workspaces can be made for different tasks.


Advantages with Workspaces in FM9


Earlier Versions

With Workspaces

Panel docking



Time saved in reopening Panels



Effective Screen Usage



Toggle hide/show all panels feature



Book as a panel



 Workspace Switcher

FrameMaker ships with a set of standard Workspaces tailored for different tasks. You can modify them as you wish. If however, one needs to switch to the original setting, one can do so by using the "Reset Workspace" Option in the Workspace switcher. "Reset Workspace" option also works for the user-saved Workspaces where Reset Workspace option restores the last explicitly saved Workspace. You can manage the Workspaces using “Manage Workspace” option, where user-created Workspaces can be renamed or deleted.


Workspaces are auto-saved by design. Let’s say you closed a panel, you don’t need to save the Workspace explicitly, it is saved automatically. If you need to design a ‘new’ Workspace for a specific task, you can open all the required panels and save the Workspace using the “Save Workspace” option in the Workspace Switcher located in the ‘Appbar’.


While using Workspaces it might help to have the option Hide Panels On Close ‘unchecked’ (File->Preferences->Interface). Otherwise it might happen that many panels remain open in the hidden state. The Workspace loads when first document is opened and unloads with the closing of last document. As a Workspace could contain a lot of panels, loading a Workspace with lot of panels could sometimes take more than a second. You might experience some performance slowdown from the previous FM versions when loading the first file. Same would happen if an operation on book is underway, with no file open and FrameMaker opens one file at a time and closes it. To avoid these situations, you could leave one file open to save loading/unloading time of your Workspaces.


More Workspace Facts:

  • The shipped Workspaces are also configurable.

  • A Workspace is auto saved when FM exits.

  • Workspace loads when the first document in FM is opened.

  • Opening a book as first file doesn’t load a Workspace.

  • If one makes a change to an original Workspace, it is similar to an override. On resetting it returns to its original state (with no Workspace overrides) but one loses the changes (Workspace overrides). To preserve both Workspaces:

  • Goto Workspace switcher > Save Workspace > Provide a different name. The Workspace gets saved and becomes a new non-overridden Workspace.

  • Reset the original Workspace restores the original one.

  • Once you choose to save the Workspace, it will then be available on the Workspace switcher menu.

  • The Workspace panels can be made to temporarily hide (and toggled back) with the “UI Visibility” icon on ‘AppBar’.UI Visibility icon


Advanced Information:

  • Each Workspace has a corresponding .fws file.

  • The shipped Workspaces are provided at the location: $FMHOME\fminit\WorkSpaces

  • The overridden Workspace files & new user created Workspaces are present in FM user-area: <FM-USER-AREA>\WorkSpaces\. (Start > Run > %appdata%\Adobe\FrameMaker\9)

  • Structured & UnStructured are the corresponding folders containing these files for the chosen FM Product Interface.

  • If any change is made to the loaded Workspace, a .cfws file gets created automatically in the same folder location when FM exits. This custom .fws file can be called as containing overrides. (.fws + overrides = .cfws)

  • Though these files are written by FM but a user may hand-edit these files to a limited extent (at your own risk :).

  • For example if a user wants a blank Workspace he may delete all information from all docks – top, bottom, left, right.

  • Incase your default Workspace starts troubling during first document open, you may change it via the <FM-USER-AREA>\maker.ini entry: LastUsedWorkSpaceInStructuredMode=Authoring where “Authoring” is name of the Workspace.


Additional Information on Workspaces:


Enjoy the power of the new UI and let us know what can we do to make it better!

Thanks and Regards,
Amit Agarwal
FrameMaker Engineering



  • By Caroline - 12:41 AM on November 9, 2010  

    We are having a few problems with customising workspaces in Structured FM9. We want to have the book minimised but everytime we open it up, it takes up about 1/3 of the screen space – and even moving it around and saving the workspace doesn’t help as it doesn’t go back to how we have set it up on the next instance of opening the book and files. Is there any way of doing this or more detailed information about how to deal with workspaces when working with a book and files?

  • By Arianna Christian - 7:07 AM on October 18, 2012  

    Amazing post…!!!