Eddie Van Arsdall’s Ten Tips for FrameMaker Docs

If you use Adobe FrameMaker and wondered ‘well how could I get these documents into another tech writing tool’, then read this week’s edition of  MadNewz from Madcap Software. Eddie VanArsdall has written a great tutorial that shows how to move content between these packages.

How to Move Documents From Framemaker to FlareEddie

Eddie makes the point that, ‘single-sourcing FrameMaker content is time-consuming and tedious. And buying licenses for separate conversion tools gets expensive. Now you can use one tool to author and single-source your content.’

These are the first five in the list.

  1. Set up a directory for your Flare projects.
  2. Start with a relatively small FrameMaker book.
  3. Clean up your source files.
  4. Indent your TOC sublevels.
  5. Map FrameMaker content to Flare topics.

You can read the other Ten Tips for Importing FrameMaker Docs into Madcap Flare here:

Start with a small pilot project

His suggests to start small and avoid importing all of your FrameMaker content at once. For example, choose one or two relatively small books (50 to 100 pages) or a long chapter file as pilot projects.

This can help you judge how much you can transfer in one go. Of course, the more complex the Frame documents, the small the files I’d bring over.

Test and test again!

Clean up source files

This will also speed things up. He adds that your FrameMaker files should be completely tagged and free of formatting overrides. ‘Flare will convert tags to equivalent CSS classes. If it finds a lot of overrides, it will create a class for each one. That’s a maintenance headache.’

Who Wrote This?

One of the nice things about Madcap is the way they bring real users into the mix.

Eddie is senior member of the Society for Technical Communication and a past president of the Washington, DC chapter. He runs VanArsdall InfoDesign™, a consulting and services company specializing in technical communication.

‘I analyze, organize, and deliver simplified technical information so that people can understand it.’

You can read his tech writer’s blog at http://www.vanarsdall-infodesign.com/

Missed Opportunities?

There are two things I like about this article. One is that it’s practical. I can run with his suggestions and try them today.

The second is the way Madcap engage with their customer base. They’ve been very good to me when I’ve had issues, which I can’t say some other Tech Doc vendors. You know who you are!

It’s a bit ironic that an industry with so many tech writers (who I assume love the process of writing) aren’t courted by IT vendors to write on their sites.

I think there’s a missed opportunity here. What do you think?