Third-Party FM manuals
"Dave L. Meek's User Account" <dave -at- ROGUE -dot- DISC-SYNERGY -dot- COM>
Fri, 19 May 1995 11:38:03 -0700
My request for info regarding third-party FrameMaker manuals
netted the usual excellent results. The following is a
compilation of the responses I received. (Long post follows.)
I worked with both the Frame 3 and Frame 4 manuals. The Frame 3 manuals left
a lot to be desired (as did the program). The Frame 4 manuals are much
better. I think some of them won prizes in the STC's 1993 Northern
California Tech Pubs Competition.
I recently came back from FrameMaker training. One of their parting gifts was
a bibliography of third party books about FM. They are all available from
Ellipsis International Publications, Inc. (800) 944-5551.
FrameMaker 4: From Desktop to Printshop; Yvonne Johnson
FrameMaker 4 for Windows: Visual QuickStart Guide; Jann Tolman
Power of FrameMaker 4 for Windows; David B. Doty
FrameMaker 4 for UNIX Solutions; Helena Jerney & John Jerney
Structured Publishing from the Desktop; Michael Fraase
FrameMaker for Windows: Step-by-Step; Janet Lienhard
PS--I taught myself FM using the docs from Frame. They seem OK to me. . .
The Frame Handbook: Building FrameMaker Documents That Work
Linda Branagan & Michael Sierra
O'Reilly & Associates, Inc. (1994, 1st edition, 506 pp.)
Chapters and appendixes listed in its Table of Contents:
1. FrameMaker Basics
3. Searching and Spelling
4. Footnotes, Variables, and Cross-References
5. Paragraph and Character Formats
6. Master Pages
8. Importing Formats
9. Graphics and Color
10. Integrating Text and Graphics
11. Keyboard Macros
12. Creating Templates
13. Creating Books
14. Tables of Contents and Other Generated Lists
15. Creating Indexes
16. Version Control, Revision Control, and Hypertext
A. Keyboard Shortcuts
B. FrameMaker's X Resources
C. Tips and Tricks 52 pages long, and maybe alone
worth the book's price!
FrameMaker is an excellent choice. Frame v4 is current, but Frame v5
is supposed to ship in June, so you may be getting it. I udnerstand
that v5 includes a minimal but useful Frame-to-HTML utility for creating
small, simple Web documents. Since the World Wide Web is THE hot thing
right now, and since Word is offering its free Internet Assistant for
converting Word docs to HTML, it's good that Frame has jumped on the
bandwagon. (BTW, Frame's HTML utility is a subset of the Quadralay
product, WebWorks. My company is about to look into Webworks as a
fullscale HTML document creation and Mosaic web-browsing addition to
our FrameMaker DTP software.)
Two things about Frame: First, as soon as you get it, take the tutorial.
Second, use the manual to learn how to create "*.book" files. Creating
.books is one of Frame's strong points, because it allows you to make
and update TOCs and Indexes quickly and easily.
To keep up with Frame issues, and to get your questions answered without
having to call Frame Tech's Customer Support, subscribe to the Framer's
list. Send the following command in email to "Majordomo -at- Math -dot- McGill -dot- CA":
subscribe framers your_e-mail_address
I think I own every book written on FrameMaker.
"The Frame Handbook" by Branagan & Sierra (O'Reilly &
Associates) is the most useful to me. The 94 tips and
tricks are worth the price of the book.
It is written for the X Window System, but most of it
applies to other platforms.
The learning curve is not that steep. Frame 5 includes
8 modules of very good interactive CBT on using Frame.
I switched from PageMaker to FrameMaker in 1991 (that was FM 3.0). After
seeing demos of FM & going through its tutorials, I realized that the
complexity was much more than PageMaker's. So, I took 4 days of a 5-day class
& feel that saved me at least a month of self-learning.
At that time there were no books on the market. The ones I've seen haven't
looked too helpful. (I haven't surveyed all of them, though.)
I really recommend the class. Frame has authorized learning centers available,
across the US. Contact them for your closest site.
> The only third party Frame book I've found is "The Frame Handbook,
> Building FrameMaker Documents That Work" by Linda Branagan & Michael
> Sierra, O'Reilly & Assoc. It has a couple neat features that
> FrameMaker's docs don't have - a section called "Tips and Tricks" and
> a decent index. :-)
Hmmmm, I started on Frame 3 and read the manuals cover to cover before I
even looked at the program. I thought the manuals that came with the
package then were excellent; I haven't found the need to consult the
Frame 4 manuals much so I won't defend them, but I can only wonder what
could have happened in their pubs department that the new manuals could
deserve such disparaging comments.
Anyway, if you want a 3rd party book to get you up to speed on Frame, you
might look for a book called "Structured Publishing from the Desktop: Frame
Technology's FrameMaker" by Michael Fraase, copyright 1992, published by
Business One Irwin, Homewood, IL 60430. ISBN 1-55623-616-6. It seems like
a good starting point. The focus is primarily on Frame for Mac, but the
approach should work on any version of Frame.
My recent experience in the Barnes & Noble bookstore suggests that
you'll have an easier time than I did finding FrameMaker books. The
fellow in the Computer Science section told me that he's aware of only
one FrameMaker for UNIX book, and it's called _FrameMaker for UNIX
Solutions_ by Jerney & Jerney. Apparently, there are many more third party
books for the Windows version of FrameMaker. I didn't look in the
BTW, do you subscribe to the Framers listserver? That would be a really
good place to ask about FrameMaker books.
I think you can subscribe by sending an e-mail to
Address: majordomo -at- math -dot- mcgill -dot- edu
Message: subscribe framers <your e-mail address>
I don't know about FrameMaker 5, but I do know there is nothing recent out
there for the Mac version 4.0, having just started using that version last
December. You can find publications for Windows and Unix.
I was at Frame Technology tonight in San Jose for a user meeting and
introduction to features of 5.0. They did not mention any third-party
manuals, but there is an interactive CBT feature in the new release. It
covers the basics.
Of course most of us have no trouble with basics, what we want is help with
the meatier aspects. Do you know about the comp.text.frame group on the
Internet. You can get a lot of good answers there. Those folks saved my
sanity more than once.
I'm working for a new company and am being forced to use
FM4 and I have to tell you, FM doesn't have a steep learning
curve at all, it's a vertical line!
I subscribe to the Frame listserv (which is helpful in some ways),
I read the Frame manual, and the third party book I've bought
so far is: _The Frame Handbook, Building FrameMaker Documents
That Work_ by Linda Branagan and Michael Sierra. I also rely
on Frame phone support because our company pays for it with
the license, so I get our money's worth.
_The Frame Handbook_ has been helpful in some ways, I've found
information I needed quicker in it than in the Frame Manual.
However, it suffers from being laid out, indexed and cross-referenced
in the same manner as the Frame Manual is. And there are holes.
One of the biggest ones I stepped in had to do with spacing.
(Mind you, I'm new to Frame so I wasn't too hip to their
vocabulary, which caused this problem.) I noticed that the
documents I inherited to edit wouldn't allow more than one space
between words, after periods, commas, colons, or semi-colons.
However, some documents would allow them. Anyway, I correctly
deduced that there was a "switch" or "button" to turn this
feature off and on. It took 1.5 hours of three adults (all
new to Frame) trying to find it in the Frame manual, the
third party manual, the online help, and then finally calling
Frame phone support.
I/we read everything that was referenced in the ToC and the Index
having to do with spacing: line, paragraph, words, etc. Nothing
turned up. That was a big, unnecessary hole I fell into early
on in my Frame career. When I got through to Frame support, it
and explained my problem, it was "Ohhhhhhhhhhhh, you mean.....
" and the answer was right there. Duh!
However, without knowing the buzz word(s), no one could have
found it. Very, very, very, extremely poor documentation and
cross-referencing in this case. I'll tell you what you look
for to get the answer concerning spacing between words if you
want to know but I took the support person to task and wrote
a long flame on the Frame listserv about this experience.
oh yeah, don't know if you know it or not, but Frame, at least
FM4 and earlier, does not alphabetize, not even simple lists.
I found that very surprising, also.
I am also eager to learn which is the recommended Frame text. I think *any*
third party reference will be better than that which Frame publishes.
About the ONLY 3rd party book I've seen is The Frame Handbook by Linda
Branagan & Michael Sierra, O'Reilly & Associates. The best things
about it are that I can find things in it and it has a chapter called
"Tips and Tricks." Handy stuff in there!
Hmmmm. I moved from Word to Framemaker 3 a couple of years ago
and was producing useful (although short....around 20 pages)
manuals within a week.
I didn't think the learning curve was very steep at all, and I
thought the Framemaker manual was excellent. I found Framemaker
more intuitive for me than Word.
However, I understand that there are lots of new features since
3.0, so that might not be as true now.
I would strongly suggest taking a class taught by an
authorize FrameMaker trainer. When my department switched
from Word to FrameMaker, no amount of reading helped.
But a few days in a class made all the difference and we
were up and running very quickly. It really was worth
the investment in training. In fact, since there were
several of us needing the training at once, the trainer
came to our site and taught the class. (I think there
were 4 of us in the class.)
Osbourne publishes one called _FrameMaker 4: From Desktop to Print Shop_
that I've found useful. It seems to provide good coverage in a decent
The one or two books that exist don't have a very good reputation.
Frame is very logical, and they have good telephone support. The
manuals are OK.
I would make sure your company contracts for the support, and go
through the tutorials that Frame supplies. Then get to it!
And be sure to join the Frame user's list. Just send a note here:
framers_request -at- uunet -dot- uu -dot- net
There may be something really fine out there, but I have always
thought that Frame's documentation was pretty darn good. O'Reilly
press has a Frame book, but the stuff it covers is no better -- and
less complete -- than the Frame manual itself.
I don't have any suggestions for third-party manuals on FM5, but
I also don't think it has a steep learning curve. I think it is
a good product and I think their manuals are goo too. I think you
will be happy with all of the capabilities.
I beg to differ on the Frame learning curve. If you are
familiar with windows-type environments (popup menus,
icons, clicking and dragging), you should feel very
comfortable with Frame's interface in about an hour.
I believe it is the most intuitive DTP (as opposed to
word processing) UI I've ever encountered.
Dave Meek "Imagine Whirled Peas"
Dave Meek "Imagine Whirled Peas"
Visit TechWhirl's Other Sites