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Introduction to Adobe FrameMaker

This chapter provides a starting point for those who are familiar with XML but not as familiar with FrameMaker. It also covers FrameMaker's structured document publishing capabilities. (From the book XML and Framemaker, by Kay Ethier, published by Apress, ISBN: 159059276X.)

Author Info:
By: Kay Ethier
Rating: 5 stars5 stars5 stars5 stars5 stars / 22
July 26, 2004
  1. · Introduction to Adobe FrameMaker
  2. · Text Format and Table Placement
  3. · Figure Placement and Settings
  4. · Page Layout, Master Pages and PDF Creation
  5. · Content Sharing Across the Enterprise
  6. · Understanding FrameMaker Templates
  7. · Understanding Structured FrameMaker Basics
  8. · Looking at Round Trip XML Benefits

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Introduction to Adobe FrameMaker - Understanding FrameMaker Templates
(Page 6 of 8 )

Many of the formats and special features discussed herein are components of FrameMaker templates. Their place within FrameMaker, and the role they play in creation of your documents, is explained in this section.

What Is a Template?

In FrameMaker, a template is a file that contains formatting and layout information for text, tables, graphics, and pages. Often when new files are created, the author uses a template to ensure the new document matches other documents of that type. Some companies use several templates.

A template contains a set of formats, all designed to work together and create a specific type of document. Some templates are included in the FrameMaker installation, although the majority of companies create their own templates to suit their needs. Components that make up a template are:

  • Paragraph formats

  • Character formats

  • Master page layouts

  • Table formats

  • Color definitions

  • Document properties (this includes a variety of settings, including zoom percentage, pagination, numbering, and text options)

  • Reference pages

  • Variable definitions

  • Cross-reference formats

  • Conditional text settings

  • Math definitions

While you may not need to use all of these functions (for example, you can skip math definitions if you are not creating equations), you must set up some text formatting and page layouts at a minimum. The process for producing a template is something like this:

  1. Analyze your documents and determine the formats needed to create the look and feel you want.

  2. Create your FrameMaker template, creating the necessary formats.

  3. Save the template in a safe place.

  4. Open the template each time you need to create a new document, and Save As a new name in whatever folder is appropriate.

What is a Structured Template?

A structured template is a FrameMaker template into which element definitions (EDD information) have been imported.

While a regular FrameMaker template deals only with formatting, structured templates also deal with issues of structure and rules of content. These templates have information in them that is similar to the information you would find in a DTD. The process for producing a structured template is something like this:

  1. Analyze your documents and determine the formats needed to create the look and feel you want.
  2. Analyze your document content to determine the structure required to produce the necessary XML. You can also import your DTD to provide FrameMaker with the information about your structure.

  3. Create your FrameMaker template with the necessary formats.

  4. You create elements and attributes as needed to produce appropriate XML. You can also add formatting and feature information to your DTD to tie FrameMaker functions to your existing elements and attributes.

  5. Save the template in a safe place.

  6. Configure FrameMaker to use the template when it opens an XML file.

  7. Open the template each time you need to create a new document, and Save As a new name in whatever folder is appropriate. If importing XML, you can also select the configuration that includes the template so that FrameMaker uses it automatically.

Note: A template that contains formatting information plus the element information from the EDD is referred to as a structured template.

The structured templates certainly require more time and thought. While issues in formatting are easy to clear up in FrameMaker templates, problems with structure may not be so easy to fix—especially if you plan to export XML for use by other tools, you need to structure your content as correctly as possible on the first pass. You can always extend a structure, but major rework could render existing documents invalid.

The file in which you create your structure and add the tie-ins to FrameMaker’s formatting engine is called an Element Definition Document (EDD). As mentioned in the terminology section, this is the list of FrameMaker elements and attributes. The EDD contains information on how often elements can be used, what elements must be present, and what elements can be used inside other elements. It also contains formatting information for each element. This is what differentiates it from a Document Type Definition (DTD), and what makes it possible for the elements to tie into FrameMaker’s formatting features. Once it is exported from FrameMaker, the formatting information is dropped and the EDD becomes a DTD.

Once you have your structured template created, you can begin publishing structured documents. In many cases, you will have additional files that will interact with—and augment—your structured template. A few of these are described in the next sections. 

This chapter is from XML and FrameMaker, by Kay Ethier (Apress, 2004, ISBN: 159059276X). Check it out at your favorite bookstore today. Buy this book now.

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