FrameMaker 11 w/o XML: why upgrade? Graphics & Anchored Frames

FrameMakerProductsTechnical Communication Suite

If you have had a chance to view the recording of our launch webinar, “What’s new with FrameMaker 11“, you may have noticed a heavy emphasis on DITA and XML. This is the fastest growing segment of our users, but we recognize that many people (a) continue to used FrameMaker w/o XML in unstructured mode and (b) there are many people experiencing growing pains with tech doc in Word who are interested in using FrameMaker 11 w/o XML.

FrameMaker 11 still a great unstructured authoring solution

Over the last several releases, major improvements have been made that save a great deal of time in an unstructured environment. This blog focuses on several features that add new powers in regards to graphics and anchored frames. You can see brief videos on some of this functionality in our AdobeTV show, “New in FrameMaker 11: Rich Multimedia Capabilities.”

Here’s an overview of key new features in this area, and how you might use them in your workflow.

Object styles and Object style catalog

For years, FrameMaker has had powerful control over paragraph, character and table styles. A table “catalog” was added in the last release to make application of styles even easier. FrameMaker 10 also introduced strong “housekeeping” tools for styles, e.g. the ability to search for any paragraph, range of text or table that does not match the catalog definition.

This type of power and control has now been extended to graphics, vector objects and anchored frames through Object styles. This can be used in a variety of ways:

  • Anchored frames: you can create object styles for identified anchored frames that you wish to globally update. For instance, Conditional Text Control may expand your content, increasing paragraph depth and page count. You may wish to universally change certain anchored frames from “below insertion point” to nested “inside paragraph” which allows text to wrap around the anchored frame. The screen capture below shows a very simple use, with 3 different object styles position anchored frames with the elephants into the 3 most desired positions:

    In the example above, it would be possible to use the Object Style Designer to make all instances of the ANCHOR OUTSIDE to jump to the opposite side of the page. This eliminates the old steps of searching for anchored frames and manually adjusting settings, one instance at a time.
  • Globally update all instances of a particular symbol: You may have multiple instances of arrows or other objects within graphics which need to be globally updated. For instance, you could make every instance of an Object style “named” arrow rotate 45 degrees. You could have all instances of a background, color tinted box change properties. This can eliminate not only hours of works, but errors as well. When you update Object styles, every instance can be changed, and you need not worry about missing one.

Hot spots, or hyperlinks to graphic objects

  • Older versions of FrameMaker had a crude workaround for creating hyperlinks to a graphic, which was restricted to a text frame rectangle placed over part of an image; multiple steps were required and accuracy was limited. New Hotspot properties may nowbe assigned to an entire graphic, or to specific vector objects (e.g. arrows, ovals, etc.) within an anchored frame. The hotspot can make specific text with an appropriate hypertext marker jump to the graphic, or a graphic object may be hot-linked to a specific line of text. This adds a potent new tool for providing user-friendly navigation within tech doc that has many technical diagrams.
  • Uses: select various portions of “grouped” vectors from an imported vector diagram to make selected equipment parts jump to related, instructive text.

Create a link table to a 3D graphic

This feature is one of the most exciting because (a) it takes a couple of mouse clicks and (b) it produces such dramatic results. FrameMaker has supported rich media for some time now, including the ability to have interactive 3D graphics in PDF output. The problem was, there was no type of guidance of navigation controls. The user was left to their own devices to rotate a diagram and change views from solid to wireframe, etc. It was quite a challenge to identify a specific part.

FrameMaker 11 allows you to “name” imported 3D graphics, then generate a link table. This table will extract a hyperlinked part name for every piece of the graphic and instantly assemble a table. The table may display parts, “views” or different animations. See the diagram below:

  • Tech doc with 3D diagrams for instruments (e.g. medical devices) may now have a convenient table that pre-selects the parts or the views that you wish the reader to display.
  • Traditionally, vector or CAD diagrams have been static images in tech doc. With these new tools in FrameMaker 11, you can transform these images into an interactive experience for your customers.

More graphic formats

  • Rich graphic formats have been increased to include FLV and MP4 formats. This is significant, because SWF files (based on Flash) were not compatible with iOS for iPhones and iPads. Now you have the ability to import software simulations and videos in a format compatible with more devices. FYI — the latest version of Captivate C6, (which is bundled in Tech Comm Suite 4) has the ability to publish projects to MP4.

Reduced FrameMaker 11 file size for “placed” graphics

Reduce file size by eliminating unwanted graphic facets:Some people who create shorter documents in unstructured FrameMaker import “placed” graphics (e.g. import by copy vs. import by reference.) Previous releases of FrameMaker automatically created a display facet, which could bloat the file size. You can modify FrameMaker 11 to save smaller files with placed graphics by taking the following actions:

  1. Open maker.ini
  2. Modify based on the following example entry:

This example would stop generating facets for the types of graphics indicated. This feature can be a boon to people who have converted Word docs (with embedded graphics) into unstructured FrameMaker and decided to leave the graphics “placed” rather than replaced with externally referenced images.

How much time and money can you save with FrameMaker 11?

Each publisher has slightly different needs. However, with graphics alone, a team can potentially save hundreds of hours per years using FrameMaker 11 since so many manual steps have been removed from previously complex tasks. To get complete information on resources for FrameMaker 11, including a download for trial software, click here.

FrameMaker, Products, Technical Communication Suite

Posted on 08-24-2012

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