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
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
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:
This ini file seems very long and is undocumented. Looks like users will need to figure out the meaning of the individual options themselves 😐
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
All in all a very productive and good looking feature!
Do you author in DITA ? Need to assemble your content from various sources(HTML, Word etc.)?
“Smart Paste” offers a great and a quick solution. Tools people can customize this functionality to work for other XML specifications as well. Full points to FrameMaker team for this feature.
- Created a new DITA topic file.
- Copied some paragraphs along with images and tables from the Web
- Smart pasted the content in FrameMaker
- With very minor tweaks, we could realize completely valid and relevant structure in the DITA topic being authored
Productive: Yes. Cool: Definitely!