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FrameMaker: The Long Document's Best Friend In This Chapter Deciding whether FrameMaker is for you Working with its word-processing capabilities Introducing features that make FrameMaker special Understanding templates
If you want to create a great oil painting, you probably would not use a piano. Okay, in today's modern art you just might, but bear with me here. The point is that you need to choose the right tool for the right job. FrameMaker Is for You If...
FrameMaker is a powerful, complex piece of document processing software that is for you if your documents
Have tables of contents
Have running headers and footers
Are delivered in multiple formats (print and online)
Have lots of graphics
Are revised often
Basically, FrameMaker is for you if you create long documents, such as books, technical manuals, and dissertations. FrameMaker includes many features that help you create documents that are consistent from chapter to chapter. For example, you can set up FrameMaker to grab the title of the current chapter and put that in the header automatically. You only have to touch the header once to tell FrameMaker what to include there. After that, the chapter title in the header is updated every time you start a new chapter.
FrameMaker is probably not for you if your documents
Are highly designed with little consistency from page to page
Do not need structure or consistency
For these cases, you should probably choose a visual page layout tool, such as PageMaker or QuarkXPress (or perhaps Adobe's new InDesign).
FrameMaker has a reputation for being difficult to learn. This is partly because it's packed with powerful features. This book gets you started with the easier, more familiar stuff, such as word-processing features, and then gently launches you into more advanced information. The old 80/20 rule applies: 80 percent is easy to learn and includes the basics, like general word processing. The other 20 percent is where you find the real power, and you can learn that as you go. Word Processing in FrameMaker
FrameMaker offers the basic word-processing features that you expect (see Chapters 2 and 3 for details). You may find, though, that FrameMaker is a bit more Spartan than some word processors. It does not, for example, support drag-and-drop editing. To me, it's a small price to pay for the power that FrameMaker offers in other areas. FrameMaker on Multiple Platforms
As you flip through this book, you'll see that I've included screen shots from Windows, Macintosh, and UNIX environments. FrameMaker works almost identically across platforms, so all the knowledge you acquire on the Windows version can be transferred immediately to the UNIX or Macintosh version (or the other way around).
Furthermore, the data files in FrameMaker transfer seamlessly from one platform to another. You may have an occasional font problem or a graphic that works on one platform but not another, but the FrameMaker content is not a problem. Special Features in FrameMaker
FrameMaker includes lots of powerful features that help automate book production: cross-references, indexes, book paginations, tables of contents, variables, cross-reference, and more. Each of these items has its own chapter (except for books, which has a whole part!). Just jump in with the features that you need most! Template Tantrum
FrameMaker can help you create a set of documents that is completely consistent the documents use the same numbering style, same type of headers and footers, same formatting for the text, same lines and spacing in the tables, and more.
You accomplish all of this using FrameMaker's formatting catalogs. Each major item in FrameMaker, such as paragraphs, characters, tables, and cross-references, has a list of formats. You can easily transfer formats from one document to another. This is a simple statement, but it means that you can set up the appearance of your pages in one document and then transfer that appearance to a completely different document.
These formatting catalogs are the basic feature that separates FrameMaker from other publishing tools. Most word processors nowadays have formats defined for paragraphs (often called style sheets), but FrameMaker uses formatting catalogs for lots of things, including the following items:
Content of headers and footers
Formatting for tables of contents and indexes
These extensive formatting catalogs, which "live" in each document, can be copied from one document to another. More importantly, you can overwrite the definitions in one file with definitions from another file (provided that the style names are the same). This makes it possible to maintain your formatting catalogs in a template file and periodically import the template into your documents to keep them consistent.
Unlike some other desktop publishing packages and word processors, FrameMaker files don't have an external template file attached to the FrameMaker file. Instead, a complete copy of the formatting information is maintained in each file. You don't have to worry about keeping track of a separate template file to maintain the formatting in your files.
Any file can be used as a template, but to simplify maintenance (and prevent rogue formats from sneaking in), it's probably a good idea to create an official template file and make some rules about who's allowed to update it. Better yet, lock it up in a safe place where only the designated template owner has access to the file.