Re: FrameMaker conditional text question

Subject: Re: FrameMaker conditional text question
From: Dick Margulis <margulisd -at- comcast -dot- net>
To: David Castro <thejavaguy -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 06 Jan 2006 13:38:39 -0500

David Castro wrote:

Here's a Friday brain twister for you. I have inherited a guide that
has vast amounts of duplicated content in it. It is an installation
guide for a product can be installed on either Windows 2000 or 2003.
There are subtle differences between the way the product is installed
on the two operating systems (path names are different, there are
extra steps for one O/S, and so on).

Currently, the information is simply copied and pasted within the
guide. I was thinking that it would be better to extract the content
into an external FM file, apply condtional text settings to the
information that is different, and then import that external FM file
into the main file.

The problem is that as far as I know, the conditional text wouldn't
work, as the content would be imported into the *same chapter* twice.
So, if I set the conditions to show Windows 2000 content, then both
copies would identically display the version for Windows 2000. The
opposite is true if I set the condition settings to show Windows 2003

I already broached the subject of combining the steps and calling out
the differences between the operating systems within the procedures,
but was told that they want steps completely separate from each other,
so that the installer doesn't have to think about what operating
system they're installing to and make decisions based on that. Seems
like a weak argument for keeping it the way it is, but they're the

I already tried a test with four files:,,, and In source, I put some common
content, some version-a content, and some version-b content. I then
imported the content into the two intermediate files and applied the
conditional text settings appropriate for the file. Finally, I
imported the content from the two intermediate files into the
composite file, but unfortunately the conditional text settings
(what's visible/invisible) of the file override the
settings in the intermediate FM files.

Any suggestions?

Three thoughts (choose only one):

1. Publish two separate editions of the book (the typical use of conditional content).

2. Have separate chapters per operating system. Depending on how many chapters are involved, this could get ugly.

3. Forget conditional content. Instead, pull out the common pieces as separate tagged files (could be quite a few of them, just number them sequentially). Write the material that differs between the systems directly into the chapter, and every time you get to a place where you need one of the common pieces, link it in. In the end, you'll have linked each such piece twice. Probably more trouble than it's worth.


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FrameMaker conditional text question: From: David Castro

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