Re: Are You Using Structured Framemaker?

Subject: Re: Are You Using Structured Framemaker?
From: Stuart Burnfield <slb -at- westnet -dot- com -dot- au>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2005 07:23:51 +0800

****Tony Markos <ajmarkos -at- yahoo -dot- com> said:
**> Is structured Framemaker(vs unstructured Framemaker)being used alot?

Yes, especially in larger organisations in sectors such as defence,
aerospace and telecoms.

Is a structured writing prerequisite to using structured Framemaker?

I wouldn't say it's mandatory but yes, they go together. As I understand
it structured writing is about breaking the information into chunks
based on audience and purpose, making sure each information type (such
as reference, concept, task) is presented consistently, organising the
chunks into a logical hierarchy, and so on.

You could define rules for how each information type should be
presented. For example, in a conceptual topic, which headings are
required and which are optional, what order they must appear in, whether
graphics must have captions and whether they go above or below.

You could use a word processor or DTP tool to lay out the content of
your documents. You could have a written style guide and templates or
skeletons to encourage conformance to the structure rules. But the tool
(such as MS Word or Frame in unstructured mode) can't *enforce* the
rules or validate that a document conforms to them. A writer could enter
a subheading followed by a main heading followed by three bullet points
followed by a table caption and another bullet point--Word can't prevent
it because

A structure document in Structured FrameMaker is like a container that
contains document objects that themselves can contain other objects, and
so on. (It's a little like what you see in Windows Explorer--your
filesystem is composed of one or more drives, each of which contains one
or more folders, each of which contains subfolders and files.)

Document objects are things like tables, lists (several different
types), topics, examples and figures. Your rules might state that a list
must contain at least one list item, and a list item can contain
paragraphs, another list or a note, but not a table. A table might
contain a header, a body and a footer, or which only the body is
required. The table body must contain one or more rows, each of which
must contain one or more cells, each of which can contain... you get the
picture.

So one advantage to creating your structured document in Structured
FrameMaker is that it can enforce your basic rules for how the objects
in each information type must be structured.

Regards

Stuart Burnfield

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