Unstructured Authoring Post #2: Object Styles in FrameMaker 11

Wednesday, October 17 2012 @ 12:08 PM, By Maxwell Hoffmann

This is our second 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. There has been so much emphasis on FrameMaker’s incredible growth as a “world-class” DITA or XML editor that I’ve actually had some users of older version ask me if we still have an “unstructured mode.”

Yes! Not only are there many improvements in FrameMaker 11 that apply to non-XML or traditional documents, FrameMaker has been long-standing features that benefit traditional, binary *.fm files. This blog will focus on one specific feature that tremendously improves the handling of vector graphics: Object Styles

Extending the power of catalogs to graphics

For years, FrameMaker has had more granular control over paragraph and character styles than most traditional authoring tools. Previous releases extended the use of styles and catalogs by (a) adding a catalog for easy application of Table Styles and (b) enhancing FIND/CHANGE to include the ability to locate and restore both paragraph and character format overrides.

Previous versions of FrameMaker had a limited ability to “globally” update all instances of a graphic’s position or behavior, if the graphic were contained in a frame on the Reference Page, and was invoked as part of a graphical image “above” or “below” a paragraph styles. With some clever values added to a paragraph definition, it was even possible to have “Caution” or “Warning” artwork boxes appear in the page margin. One instance existed on the Reference page, and all “copies” invoked in paragraph styles would instantly change were the source Reference graphic to change.

Name and globally update specific graphic object styles

Now, FrameMaker 11 gives you the ability to select individual graphic objects or anchored frames and apply an “object style” that will enable you to universally update the appearance of all instances, without the limitations of Reference page artwork.

Nearly everyone has graphics with some vector objects. Your illustration may be a typical flow chart or diagram, or perhaps you have certain types of arrows selected from vector clip art to emphasize key sections of your image.

Typical WorkFlows with Object Styles:

Typically, a user creates a an Object style via the Object‐Styles‐Designer and then applies it to a graphic object via the Object
Styles Catalog.

A user could create styles to make images of similar:

  • Dimensions
  • Colour Fills
  • Strokes Patterns
  • Arrow Styles
  • Runaround properties
  • Scaling
  • Anchored Frame properties
  • Graphic Properties

 A simple example, start to finish

The descriptive text and screen captures below will show how simple the process of defining, applying and updating Object Styles can  be. In the screen shot below, an arrow has been selected and the Object Style designer has been opened to (a) change the color to blue, the stroke to a tinted dashed line  and  (b) define the Object Style as “TRUNK” … to apply to a series of elephant graphics.

In the next shot, the “TRUNK” Object Style has been applied to an arrow in the second image from the open Object Style catalog.

The Object Style designer has been opened to globally change all instances of “TRUNK” to the color green. The  result of this global update can be seen below. Obviously, other instances of “TRUNK” Object Style on unseen pages would also be changed as well.

Incidentally, you can import the definitions of Object Styles from one document into another, or even into an entire book! Although you may be working with “unstructured” FrameMaker, you have a huge boost in maintaining consistency with the appearance of graphic elements using this powerful new tool. The screen capture below shows the import formats menu, with all values neutralized except for Object Styles.

See a brief video to get the whole picture on Object Styles

A series of product launch videos for FrameMaker 11 were created and uploaded to AdobeTV and also to YouTube. You should click on the video below to see an example of Object Styles and the Object Style catalog being used with a series of simple rectangles, which will make the concept of this feature extremely clear.

Note: you may wish to click on the “Full Screen” icon and also click on the “gear” icon in the lower right corner and change the resolution to “HD” for a crisp image, so you don’t miss a thing.

The benefits of Object Styles are fairly obvious …

Clearly, the ability to name graphic objects and globally update them, as you would a paragraph style, eliminates a tremendous amount of manual effort and error in maintaining consistency with your visual images.

Benefits include:

  • Ability to universally change appearance or orientation of certain objects via Import Formats before producing an alternate version of a publication from single-source files
  • Reduce the training curve in graphics annotations with new staff or contractors
  • Maintain control over graphics with a familiar methodology that mirrors the way you are already controlling paragraph, character and table styles through FrameMaker

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.

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

Watch for Part 3 in this series on the usage of FrameMaker 11 in “unstructured” mode coming soon.

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