Customize Toolbars in FrameMaker 9


FrameMaker 9 introduces new toolbars to the Framers. These toolbars are new to the user in the sense that they have a new look-n-feel and allow more flexibility. Also, the older .ini model of the toolbars has been done away with, with the new .XML model. New toolbars could be of great use as they can enhance user’s productivity in an easy way. One may place toolbars nearer to the work-area, or dock them to the nearest dock, or change orientation vertical/horizontal, or choose customized icons for any toolbar or create customized toolbars.

Toolbars Dockable at Top and Sides

The following toolbars can be docked at the top and at the sides of the user interface:

  • Graphics
  • Quick Access Bar (QAB)
  • Table Formatting
  • Object Alignment
  • Object Properties
  • Track Text Edits

When any of these toolbars is docked on the sides and dragged out to float, a small arrow icon appears at the top dark-grey area. When this is clicked one may change the orientation of the toolbar from vertical double-column to vertical single-column to horizontal.

Toolbars Dockable at Top Only (“Control Bars“”)

The following toolbars can be docked only at the top of the user interface:

  • Text Formatting
  • Paragraph Formatting Bar

Toolbars in FrameMaker 9 cs Earlier Versions

  FrameMaker 9 FrameMaker 8 and older

Info File




Dockable at the top & sides in any order.

Docks were not present earlier


Except the formatting toolbars (containing a dropdown) toolbars may be placed horizontally / vertically / single-column / double-column

Only QAB had limited control over orientation


All toolbars are viewable together.

QAB had a page-by-page view. One had to change the page of toolbar to view the next.


New Grey look that changes to colored on mouse-over.

Mouse-over used to darken the contrast of the colored icon.


Better segregation of commands. (FrameMaker 9 has seven customizable toolbars, excluding Graphics Bar).

FrameMaker8 had three toolbars and one sidebar. QAB consisted of four scrollable pages in itself.

Icon Images

The icon image can be customized

Image name of the icon was restricted to fmcustom.dll only

FrameMaker 8 had a QuickAccess Bar, Formatting Bar and Track Text Edit Bar. A sidebar above the vertical scrollbar also served as a bar for frequently used icons. With the new design in FrameMaker 9 those icons were adjusted in the “Quick Access Bar (QAB)”.

Earlier we used to have one .ini file ($FMHOME\fminit\fmtoolbr.ini) to define all the toolbars. Now the fmtoolbr.ini has been changed to a more modular architecture.

  1. The toolbars now exists in the $FMHOME\fminit\toolbars AND <FM9-User-Area>, i.e. %appdata%\Adobe\FrameMaker\9\toolbars\. The toolbars present in the <FM9-User-Area> supersedes those present in $FMHOME just like the maker.ini. So, multiple users using one FrameMaker build may design their own toolbars by storing the toolbar files in their user area.
  2. Also if one needs to add a new toolbar, he just can create another XML file and add its entry in fmtoolbar.xml. The usage of toolbars is defined in tag-description.xml.

If one desires some frequently used icons of the toolbar to stand out, one may do so by tweaking the .xml file of the respective toolbar. Here is a small change that is done to make the Enable/Disable icon (first icon in trackchanges.xml) stand out:

  1. Open the .XML file of the toolbar you wish to change. One may edit the file present in <FM9-User-Area>. The $FMHOME toolbars would serve as a backup.

  2. In the XML file interchange the “rollover” name with the “normal” name. This would bring the bright image as normal and the grey image on rollover.

    Before: <images normal =”P_EnableTrack_18x18_N.png” rollover =”P_EnableTrack_18x18_R.png” dark_normal=”P_EnableTrack_18x18_N_D.png” dark_rollover=”P_EnableTrack_18x18_R_D.png”/>

    After: <images rollover =”P_EnableTrack_18x18_N.png” normal =”P_EnableTrack_18x18_R.png” dark_normal=”P_EnableTrack_18x18_N_D.png” dark_rollover=”P_EnableTrack_18x18_R_D.png”/>

  3. If this doesn’t make the desired difference, one may go on to creating new custom icon images. Those icons can be kept at any custom defined path too. Icons can be kept at:

    • User area
    • Custom Path
    • A custom dll file with the full name being <DLL path>\<image-name>.<extension>. Currently the icons are kept in fmcustom.dll present in $FMHOME\fminit. Its entry is present in maker.ini as: AlternateResources=fminit\fmcustom.dll.

Summary / Additional Information

  • Users can create any number of toolbars.
  • All the menu items / commands that end up executing an FCODE can be used here.
  • Only Formatting toolbars cannot be docked in vertical orientation – Text Formatting, Para Formatting. All other toolbars may be oriented to vertical or horizontal position.
  • Graphics toolbar doesn’t have its own .XML file, it was not customizable even in earlier versions.

Utilize the power of the new UI and let us know your feedback about it!

Amit Agarwal, FrameMaker Engineering

FrameMaker, Products, Support

Posted on 07-07-2009


  • By Zecharia Bar-Khai - 11:21 AM on March 7, 2019   Reply

    I am using FM2019.
    Can I set the default color and line width on the Graphics Toolbar?

  • […] Darüber hinaus ist es in FrameMaker seit Version 9 ausgesprochen einfach, die verschiedenen Toolbars den eigenen Vorstellungen gemäß anzupassen. So können nicht nur die Ausrichtung oder Beweglichkeit bestehender Toolbars verändert, sondern auch neue Toolbars, Items oder Icons erstellt werden. (Weitere Informationen dazu finden Sie hier.) […]

  • […] Following blog post explains toolbar configurability in detail […]

  • By David Coverston - 3:33 PM on December 7, 2011   Reply

    Amit, where are the images referenced in the XML file stored? Is there a way to make custom images? I am using FrameMaker 10.

    • By Amit - 7:23 AM on December 8, 2011   Reply

      The icons are placed within $FMHOME\fminit\owlres.dll & $FMHOME\fminit\fmcustom.dll
      (can be opened in Visual Studio).

      You may create your custom images (through any icon creating software) and provide the .png path directly in the toolbar file (or use a tool to modify the .dll itself).

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