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Posts tagged ‘Adobe’

3D and Multimedia interaction

The Adobe team realizes well that the future of technical communication lies in the rich media and 3D direction. And they sure have attempted to address some new requirements from the users of such building blocks.

With FrameMaker 11, author can insert links to multimedia and 3D objects. We really like this option of custom controls using hyperlinks. Following linking options have been provided:

  • View: Show/invoke different object views
  • Parts: Show/invoke different object parts
  • Animation: Show animation
  • JavaScript: Associate custom JavaScript code to the link
Create Multimedia Link Dialog

Create Multimedia Link Dialog

Additionally, there is an option to create a link table to graphics (with type as views, parts or animation). This feature really adds much more interactivity to multimedia objects in pdf.

The play, stop and and capture frame functionality in supported video formats, to be later used as the poster image when the file gets published to PDF, is also a time-saver and helps create better looking outputs!

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Revamped New XML/Preferences Dialogs

Recent releases of FrameMaker have been power packed with lot of features. A number of these come along with a lot of configuration parameters. Some reach the INI files and some make it to the UI dialogs. FrameMaker 11 seems to have taken the first baby step towards providing all such preferences under one roof.

FrameMaker 11 has moved the option for preferences from File menu to Edit menu. Whats new here is the revamped user interface! Instead of having multiple dialogs (one for each set of configurations for general, interface, dictionary, CMS etc), everything has been consolidated into one single dialog which looks good and user friendly. Would also like to see more frequently used options (specially DITA and DITA publish) from INI files moved to this dialog.

Edit Preferences Dialog

Edit Preferences Dialog

On the same lines, all the options of creating a new XML has been moved to one dialog, the File..New dialog. You will also find your custom applications available in this dialog. Definitely, it is much better and easier to create new XMLs as compared to the earlier versions!

New XML Dialog

New XML Dialog

HotSpots

Add life to your ‘so far’ dead content by adding active links to relevant content anywhere in your document! Now it will be possible to add links to any parts of an object/image and take the reader to where he would find more information on that object/image part.

Another feature which adds interactivity to objects in pdf. Although the name “hotspot” looks little weird, this feature is certainly very useful. We gave a quick glance to this new feature and it worked well! What we did was:

  • Imported an image (with circles and squares)
  • Created a “Named Destinations” hypertext on another page
  • Turned the hotspot mode to ON (last icon in Graphics toolbar)
  • On the image, from the Graphics toolbar, we created a square overlapping the square in the image.
  • Linked the square to the named destination (from hotspot properties, that launched automatically!)
  • Similarily superimposed a circle over the circle in the image
  • Linked the circle to a URL (from hotspot properties), say http://www.google.com
  • Made the pen, fill pattern of the square/circle to “None”
  • And whew! In the PDF perfect links were created.
hotspots

Hotspots

Certainly, a lot more interesting stuff can be done through this little new “hot” trinket!

Object Style Designer

Have you commonly encountered scenarios where you have multiple images and you wanted to apply some common settings across all of them? Earlier you would have modified each one individually. Object Style Designer(OSD) in FrameMaker 11 solves it well by doing it all in one go!

Just like paragraph and character styles, FrameMaker allows you to create an Object Style with various properties using OSD.

In previous versions, users would apply the graphic properties individually on objects from the graphic toolbars. OSD stores these styles that can be applied in single step from the “O” catalog over the objects.

Object Style Designer

Object Style Designer

OSD is completely different from the other designers in look-n-feel (don’t know why it was implemented this way!). These inconsistencies in different features across FrameMaker is a major nuisance. Adobe team should give some thinking to make it better.

Banner Text/Document Skeleton

If the authors in an organization need to be guided on what context each element in a structured application holds, then this is a great feature. For template designers, this is a feature that should definitely be explored because they can place a basic structure along with helpful information for authors who start authoring an XML. An instance of which can be seen while creating new DITA XMLs.
The term banner text looks misleading but this feature is about having placeholder content inside elements that guides the author with some text.

For example, we did a File .. New .. XML .. Dita Topic. It showed “banner” text in grey color, on which we could just click and start typing (it informs authors to type in the correct context), while the placeholder content vanishes.
So it actually guides the author in two ways:

  • Where exactly to start authoring content in a document.
  • Setting the context right for what context to author in.
banner text

Banner Text

Moreover, we foresee common usage where the placeholder can contain some warning/essential prerequisites that the author should be aware of. The Help guide says that you can extend this to content other than DITA too! (via EDD).

Print ready DITA Publishing from FrameMaker 11

For the authors that author in DITA standard and love the FrameMaker book capabilities, this is a feature to appreciate. Hopefully it would reduce the post processing effort which organizations commonly spend on publishing ditamaps from FrameMaker.
In FrameMaker 11, users can now generate print ready output from a DITA Map project. Essentially the ditamap to Book with FM components workflow has been enhanced in the latest FrameMaker release.

DITAMap saved as Book

The output would now now also include generation of cover page, ToC, Index, List of figures, List of tables etc.

Book with TOC, Index etc. published from FrameMaker

These properties are configurable in the ditafm-output.ini file (%appdata%\Adobe\FrameMaker\11). Numbering and pagination are  automatically handled as part of this book building process.

Many options are present in this ini file. We did not use all, but it goes to show a lot many parameters, left upon the user to configure as per the publishing requirements. For example, numbering notation for chapter, section and sub section components, Pagination (double sided or single sided) and presence of an option to generate flat books (pre-FrameMaker 9 era). And trust me a lot more to explore in this ini.

A few examples of entries in the ini file:

[BookWithFM-General]
PerformPostProcessing=1
GenerateFMComponentsAtOneLoc=1
GenerateFlatBook=0
GenerateTOC=1
GenerateIndex=1
ApplyOutputTemplate=1
OutputFilesOrder=BookTitle|TOC|Files|ListofFigures|ListofTables|Index


[BookWithFM-Chapter]
PageNumberingFirst=Restart
;PageNumberingFirst=Restart|Continue|ReadFromFile
PageNumberingFirstValue=1
PageNumberingDefault=Continue
;PageNumberingDefault=Restart|Continue|ReadFromFile
Pagination=DoubleSided
;Pagination=DoubleSided|SingleSided
PageRounding=DontChange
;PageRounding=MakeEven|MakeOdd|DontChange|DeleteEmpty
FirstPageSide=NextAvailable
;FirstPageSide=ReadFromFile|NextAvailable|Left|Right

This ini file seems very long and is undocumented. Looks like users will need to figure out the meaning of the individual options themselves 😐

Improved Ctrl shortcuts

Real productivity improvements can be realized using one of the greatest feature in Framemaker history-the Ctrl shortcuts, in a brand new Avatar. FrameMaker 11 redefines control keys aka “Quick Catalogs“.

This gives author the power to perform various actions like element insertion, applying conditional tags, applying paragraph tags, variable insertion etc. using only keyboard shortcuts (CTRL 0-9). Though a variation of the same exists in previous versions of FrameMaker, but the new experience is much better. Using this, the author will see the list of character tags (or paragraph tags, conditional tags etc.) right where his/her insertion point is. This is much convenient because the author will see the complete menu rather than a single tag appearing in the status bar.

Navigation in new quick catalogs is better than before. For eg. to navigate through the list of tags starting with ‘b’, user just needs to press ‘b’ repeatedly. A user can type in the popup-menu and it searches for items/tags on the fly!

Another thing that needs special mention is “Hierarchical Element Insert”. Authors can insert a hierarchy of elements (say a>b>c), all in one step. Also, you do not have to worry about any element being invalid as only valid elements will be shown in this list (taking into consideration the hierarchy as well!!). We are certainly going to use this much more when authoring EDDs.

Hierarchical Element Insert

Hierarchical Element Insert

All in all a very productive and good looking feature!