Simplify getting table-based data to FM / PDF

Subject: Simplify getting table-based data to FM / PDF
From: Heidi Bailey <HBailey -at- PLXTech -dot- com>
To: "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 18 Jan 2011 14:30:56 +0000


Apologies for the length of my query: I don't know how to put it more succinctly! Also apologies to those who have seen this query on the Framers list - I'm hedging my bets...

I wonder if anyone has ideas on how to improve a process for taking table-based information (from .reg files, saved to HTML then converted to Word) into FrameMaker and finally made into PDF (as part of a large book).

The source info is created by many people typing into mysterious files and parsed by coding. I have no access to these tables or the coding and no ability to maintain either. But they are very well looked after by an intelligent and helpful techie.
The source info is highly structured and suitable for keeping in a database.
In the smallest instance, the source info translates to 250 A4 pages of tables. In the largest instance (so far), the source info translates to 900 A4 pages.
The source is used by many people and only specific parts of it are taken into the book. It is in effect conditionalised so that the view of it I convert only shows the parts I need.

Currently I have to:
-open the .reg page in IE
-save as HTML
-open in Word and save as Word
-open the Word file in FM
-apply FM template
-run a (fabulously helpful) Framescript to tidy everything up
-create a LoP for various headings in the converted file
-create a few cross refs to places in the converted file
-do the book and PDF things you usually have to do.

Specifically, I am looking for a swifter way to get from source info to either FM or PDF. This means I would like suggestions on:
- formats the source info could be in, that quickly and accurately convert to FM or PDF
- if going from source straight to PDF, suggestions on how to deal with the LoP and cross refs plus formatting to match the FM template (tools or automation routes)

As I have to add navigation (such as cross refs and the LoP), I suspect that there isn't a better way than using FM. Fine by me, but I'm open to ideas.

No, I can't train the source inputters to use FM - it's hard enough training them to spell...

Please reply directly to me, as I'm on digest.


Heidi Bailey
Technical Author

PLX Technology Ltd
25 Milton Park
OX14 4SH

Registered in England no 2733820
Registered Address:  As Above

Tel: +44 (0)1235 824958
Email: hbailey -at- plxtech -dot- com


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