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Running Header Variable Question

Jan 22, 2013 7:33 AM

Tags: #headers #variables #custom_variables #running_header #framemaker_11

FrameMaker 11


I would like to show a hierarchy in my document headers (System User Manual) as a quick reference to the reader's location in the document.

The look/feel I'm going for is something like this:  Heading 1 > Heading 2 ... translates to ...


Planning > Creating a Plan


I have the variables inserted. Heading 1 is my chapter name and only occurs once in each file. When I get to the Heading 2... it works fine. But...

The first few pages look like this:


Planning >


because FM hasn't seen the first instance of Heading 2 yet.


Question 1: Is there a way to "hide" the arrow (greater than symbol) until there is a second level part of the variable string?

I'm not sure if this would be considered Conditional Text? Sorry, my FM vocabulary is rusty. It's been a few years and a few versions since I was working steadily in FrameMaker.


Question 2: Does anyone know of a better "arrow" I can use (hotkey or ascii keystrokes) rather than the > character?

  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 22, 2013 9:16 AM   in reply to Chris Dunn

    If you just use the <$paratext[paratag]> building blocks, then you don't get the control that you want.


    However, if use the Header/Footer $1-$8 marker text blocks (<$marker1>, <$marker2>,...), then you can control things quite finely. This does require you to populate the markers at their desired locations. So insert the ">" as part of the next level content, e.g. in Heading 2 insert a h/f $2 marker containing " > Creating a Plan" to get the sequence to build out properly.


    Also, keep in mind, that FM remembers the last satisfied conditions for the building blocks, so if you get to the next Heading 1 level, the original approach that you're trying will still include the Heading2 > Heading3... etc. as FM looks upstream in the document to staisfy the requested criteria. With marker text approach, you can reset the lower level building blocks (i.e. $marker2, $marker3, etc.) to be empty at each Heading1, so that you have clean Header 1 content in your page heading.


    Another benefit is that if the heading is quite long in the body of your document, you can insert an abbreviated version in the marker for use in the running header/footer.


    [As you may be able to tell, I'm a very big fan of the running header/footer marker approach and really appreciate the increased count available in FM11.]

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 22, 2013 3:29 PM   in reply to Chris Dunn

    Observe what happens to the running headers when you transition from one page to the next:



    The 3rd & 4th levels still show what was on the previous page! This would be very confusing to your readers.


    What you need to do is at every subsequent top heading entry, also insert empty markers for the next levels down  to reset these to get the following instead:




    It may take a bit of tweaking on some pagess depending upon which headers also appear. But at least you can control this by adding or deleting content in the marker (just don't delete the markers, since FM always looks back towards the start of the flow to satisfy the requested condition and may pull content from previous sections).

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 22, 2013 11:27 PM   in reply to Chris Dunn

    Arrows: if you're up for experimentation, and have some Unicode fonts, try File > Utilities > Character palette :-} Unicode arrows start at U+2190

    On some other hand, I prefer an endash or a bullet for this sort of separator, and save the > for menu levels … but that's a  choice.

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 24, 2013 7:29 AM   in reply to Chris Dunn

    Just a thought, but if you're only using two levels of information in the heading, you could sidestep the separator problem by using a change of font size for the second level or putting it on a second line … but while typing this, I was hit by a completely new idea. Experiment seems to validate it: go to your Running H/F 2 definition and put the required separator character in the definition! The example below (as you'll see) prefixes any :h2 or :h2_b heading text with a bullet and a space.

    • <$paratext[:h2,:h2_b]>

    May not be what you want, but it's well elegant :-} so thanks for setting me thinking about building-blocks.


    [ps] Looking back up the thread at my leisure, I see with no surprise that Arnis had already suggested this. Never mind: it's still elegant.

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 24, 2013 8:28 AM   in reply to Niels Grundtvig Nielsen

    This hiercharcical display of current and previously-visited destinations is often called "breadcrumbs." Here's how this forum does it:


    All the ingenious workarounds are great, but it would be better if FM offered additional building blocks that could provide the feature. Who'd like to file a formal feature request? Here's the link: Wishform











    Peter Gold

    KnowHow ProServices

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