4 Replies Latest reply on Aug 18, 2014 2:43 AM by MOL-IT

    Is there any way to display Visio-embedded FM file in Robohelp properly?


      I am considering using framemaker 11 as my main documentation tool, and RoboHelp 10 as my Publishing tool. What is the proper way to import a Visio drawing (.vsd) into Framemaker?  I tried the following steps:

      1. Select File > Import > Object.
      2. Select the Create from File radio button.
      3. Go to the graphics directory and select the image.
      6. Select the Link check box.
      7. Click OK.

      But after importing the FM file into Robohelp, RH could not recognize the image. Is there any way to display Visio-embedded FM file in Robohelp properly?

        • 1. Re: Is there any way to display Visio-embedded FM file in Robohelp properly?
          Jeff_Coatsworth Adobe Community Professional & MVP

          Couple of things here – to get over to RH, the image must be in an anchored frame; is your Visio thingie in one? Second, you seem to want to use OLE in FM – this has a shaky history of working properly; best practice these days is to insert by reference, so that when you change the source, FM follows along.

          • 2. Re: Is there any way to display Visio-embedded FM file in Robohelp properly?
            TomSchenck Level 2

            You may want to explore exporting each Visio file to PDF and then inserting that PDF into a FrameMaker anchored frame. As Jeff mentioned, OLE is not very stable and always changes in each Windows release. I gave up sometime around Win95.

            • 3. Re: Is there any way to display Visio-embedded FM file in Robohelp properly?
              Bob Niland (Error 7103) Level 4

              Found at:
              where Dov Isaacs (Adobe employee) wrote:
              "To be fairly clear about this, FrameMaker never natively supported import of Visio drawings. What FrameMaker does support is Microsoft's OLE, Object Linking and Embedding protocol by which you can place content from one application into another effectively as a Window to that application. In the case cited, whenever FrameMaker would encounter a .VSD file, it would effectively run Visio via OLE to get display or print GDI stream associated with that content. In other words, FrameMaker knows nothing about what is in the .VSD file, but lets Windows dynamically handle the association between .VSD and Visio as well as the requests to Visio to return the appropriate display and/or print GDI data. This linkage also allows for clicking on such data and allowing the edit of the data in the OLE-compliant application, in this case Visio.


              Unfortunately, Microsoft has increasingly backed off of enthusiastic support for OLE over the last eight to ten years. They pulled OLE support from the Macintosh (never was a MacOS X version). The Visio OLE implementation seems to have always been somewhat problematic. And reports are that Windows XP SP3 caused further incompatibilities. (It is this general lack of continued support by Microsoft even back in 1999 plus a few other technical factors that lead Adobe to not support OLE in InDesign!)


              I tried a sample .VSD import (actually object placement) into a FrameMaker 8 document under Vista 32-bit SP1. It seemed to work although Visio 2007 SP1 seems to crash every time it closes. When I get back into the office on Monday, I'll attempt to see whether FrameMaker 9 likewise works with OLE and Visio 2007 in my environment.


              However, because of any number of problems we have heard about with XP SP3, I cannot vouch for the FrameMaker, OLE, and Visio combination working if you upgrade to FrameMaker 9. Too many variable outside of Adobe's control here.


              In general, though, even if you could get a FrameMaker / OLE / Visio combination to work, I would most strongly advise that you migrate away from this type of solution given its general instability and Microsoft's apparent lack of commitment to it in both Windows and Visio. A more stable solution is creation of PDF from Visio and placement of that PDF into FrameMaker!"



              The principal objective of MS OLE seems to be to force any future stewards of your document to have all the apps that generated any OLE objects used in your FM document, which turns out to mean the same release versions of those apps, running on the same Windows version that created the FM file, even if the objects have never changed and never will, if the whole house of cards works at all.


              Finding out exactly what the data formats and flow are in OLE is not simple, and you often have zero control over the image format and quality. You can easily end up with a coarse raster representation of what you wanted to be vector table borders and fill backgrounds, with real stroked text, and high res inset raster icons, for example.


              If it works at all, that is. I was surprised to see that an RTF imported object actually rendered from FM to PDF as stroke text. I was unable to find out if an Illustrator .ai vector art object would render as vector graphics to PDF, because at the Import Object step, the OLE workflow bozo-launched AI, which presented only the AI pods, and no main window. If AI was already running, the main window's File menu had all the essential commands greyed out. Total object import failure. Welcome to OLE.


              • Don't use OLE with any applications, not just Framemaker.
              • Save-As/Export-As from the external app (in a high quality format like PDF or EPS that supports mixed vector/font/raster data).
              • Import by Reference into the compositing app (and in the case of Framemaker, don't sweat the coarse preview during edit).
              • 4. Re: Is there any way to display Visio-embedded FM file in Robohelp properly?
                MOL-IT Level 1

                Thanks all for your valuable feedback. I converted Visio file to PDF and then insert that PDF into a FrameMaker anchored frame. when I import it into RH, it is displaying properly. Thanks again for your help.