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timezoned
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Is there any danger in opening an unstructured document in structured Framemaker?

Aug 1, 2013 7:06 AM

I know that it's not a good idea to open a structured FrameMaker file in the unstructured FrameMaker interface, and that there's a warning about this when you try.

 

What's come up for us however is whether there's any problem with people using the Structured FrameMaker interface to edit unstructured files.

 

We have a machine set up for people who are not expert or highly skilled with FrameMaker, and since we have both structured and unstructured documents, the question is whether to leave it set as the structured interface, or the unstructured interface. They're just making small content edits in most cases, for anything more involved they ask me.


So:

 

If it's set to unstructured:

 

  • If they open an unstructured document, all is well.

 

  • If they try to open a structured document, they will see the warning. I can tell them what to do if they see it. (This might mean telling them to change to structured, or just to give me that file to edit instead.)

 

If it's set to structured:

 

  • If they open a structured document, no problem.
  • If they open an unstructured document however -- is there any danger if they edit it that way? Will saving from structured FrameMaker change anything about the file?

 

In the latter case, opening unstructured in structured Frame, there's no warning, it just opens with a blank structure view window, if they even open that window.

 

I have to imagine that Adobe separated the two interfaces for a reason, but possibly it has more to do with just not needing all of the resources like XML and DITA menus when you're in unstructured.

 

I realize that the real answer is not to let people unskilled with FrameMaker use it to edit documents, but this is the way things are for the moment. If it's set to unstructured, they'll have to switch over in order to edit structured files, and then be sure to remember to switch back. Leaving it set as structured in some ways seems the best choice, but only if it won't damage unstructured files that way.

 

Thanks

 
Replies
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 1, 2013 8:02 AM   in reply to timezoned

    The only danger is confusion in being forced to navigate the extra structure workspace elements.

     

    Structured tools will be useless with an unstructured doc.

     

    I work this way all the time, and there is absolutely no reason to fret about unstructured docs suddenly changing or becoming unusable in unstructured Fm.

     

    -Matt

     

    Matt R. Sullivan
    co-author Publishing Fundamentals: Unstructured FrameMaker 11

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 1, 2013 8:29 AM   in reply to mattrsullivan

    No worries, just mark the entry as Helpful or Correct to let others find it more easily

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 1, 2013 9:57 AM   in reply to mattrsullivan

    > The only danger is confusion ...

     

    Never having tried it, I presume this means that re-saving unstruct.fm from Structured mode won't cause the file to get tagged as structured (which would result in a nuisance warning at next open in Unstructed mode).

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 1, 2013 8:54 AM   in reply to timezoned

    timezoned wrote:

     

    I know that it's not a good idea to open a structured FrameMaker file in the unstructured FrameMaker interface, and that there's a warning about this when you try.

     

    What's come up for us however is whether there's any problem with people using the Structured FrameMaker interface to edit unstructured files.

     

    We have a machine set up for people who are not expert or highly skilled with FrameMaker, and since we have both structured and unstructured documents, the question is whether to leave it set as the structured interface, or the unstructured interface. They're just making small content edits in most cases, for anything more involved they ask me.


    So:

     

    If it's set to unstructured:

     

    • If they open an unstructured document, all is well.

     

    • If they try to open a structured document, they will see the warning. I can tell them what to do if they see it. (This might mean telling them to change to structured, or just to give me that file to edit instead.)

     

    If it's set to structured:

     

    • If they open a structured document, no problem.
    • If they open an unstructured document however -- is there any danger if they edit it that way? Will saving from structured FrameMaker change anything about the file?

     

    In the latter case, opening unstructured in structured Frame, there's no warning, it just opens with a blank structure view window, if they even open that window.

     

    I have to imagine that Adobe separated the two interfaces for a reason, but possibly it has more to do with just not needing all of the resources like XML and DITA menus when you're in unstructured.

     

    I realize that the real answer is not to let people unskilled with FrameMaker use it to edit documents, but this is the way things are for the moment. If it's set to unstructured, they'll have to switch over in order to edit structured files, and then be sure to remember to switch back. Leaving it set as structured in some ways seems the best choice, but only if it won't damage unstructured files that way.

     

    Thanks

    As Matt notes, the extra structured stuff in the interface may be confusing to users familiar with unstructured FM. However, it will also be confusing when unstructured FM users try to find and use the paragraph and character catalogs, and some other unstructured features that are perfectly usable in structured FM, but are not immediately visible in the structured interface.

     

    One way to improve and simplify the FM environment for users who are able to edit text, but shouldn't be manipulating other tools, is to customize the interface. Search Google for terms like "customizing framemaker" without quotes. Recent FM releases feature the ExtendScript ToolKit, which offers new ways to customize FM, in addition to those in the older methods of modifying the maker.ini and configui files. One option if you follow this path would be to create custom Windows icons that call startup scripts which then call FM. Before the script launches FM, it can copy specified configuration and ini files into the user's environment, so that when FM starts up, it's got just what you design it to have. A simple approach here would be customize unstructured FM's interface to have only the minimum set of menu items and other things you specify, and launch unstructured FM. An icon could be named for the user, like SallyJonesFM, or for the task, like FMUnStrEditing.

     

    I'm sure some folks on the forum have taken an approach like this for their users, and can offer some advice from their vast experience.

     

    HTH

     

     

    Regards,

     

     

    Peter

    _______________________

    Peter Gold

    KnowHow ProServices

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 1, 2013 9:14 AM   in reply to timezoned

    FWIW, if you do save and unstructured document as MIF while in structured mode, there is additional information written to the MIF file.These would get ignored by FM if read back in when in unsttructured mode.

     

    However, if you have any third-party applications that parse the MIF, the additional tags might need to be accounted for depending upon the application.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 1, 2013 1:33 PM   in reply to timezoned

    I remember seeing an Adobe webinar in which one of Adobe's employees (R.

    J. Jaquez?)  recommended turning on the structured interface, even if

    you worked in unstructured mode, saying that it wouldn't hurt anything

    and the tools would be there if you decided to use them.

     

    I did that for a while, but ran into a bug or two that only occurred in

    structured mode. So I changed back to unstructured interface. (I only

    work with unstructured documents.) Those bugs may have since been

    fixed-- I don't know-- but if you turn on structured mode and run into

    bugs, you might try switching back to see if they go away. And, sorry,

    but I cannot recall what the bugs were.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 6, 2013 5:21 AM   in reply to timezoned

    Actually, working with structured FM and unstructured documents
    leads to annoying problems within our agency:
    Person A converts FM files to MIF (with structured FM) for translation.

    Person B opens the translated MIFs with unstructured FM and receives
    the "Document is Structured" message. Because he is not aware
    whether the document is really structured or not, he needs to switch
    to structured FM. If the MIF files would be delivered to the client
    (who is opening the documents with unstructured FM), he would be
    pretty irritated because of the structure message ...

     

    Background:
    When an unstructured book is updated with structured FrameMaker,
    useless "DbookElementHierarchy" information is written into the MIF
    files of the documents:

     

    <DBookElementHierarchy
      <ElementContext
       <PrevElement
       > # end of PrevElement
       <Element
        <ETag `NoName'>
        <Attributes
        > # end of Attributes
       > # end of Element
       <NextElement
       > # end of NextElement
      > # end of ElementContext
      <ElementContext
       <PrevElement
       > # end of PrevElement
       <Element
        <ETag `BOOK-COMPONENT'>
        <Attributes
        > # end of Attributes
       > # end of Element
       <NextElement
       > # end of NextElement
      > # end of ElementContext
    > # end of DbookElementHierarchy

    structured.png

    Kind regards,
    Klaus

     
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