Re: Converting Frame to editable format

Subject: Re: Converting Frame to editable format
From: Tim Altom <taltom -at- IQUEST -dot- NET>
Date: Wed, 27 Aug 1997 12:21:01 -0500

At 12:38 PM 8/27/97 EDT, you wrote:
> For our next release on NT, we want to be able to convert documents
> done mainly in Framemaker (some in Word)to all of the following
> formats:
> -PDF (for the CD)
> -Context-sensitve HELP FILES
> -A form that is editable/customizable by the customer (many of our
> customers use MSWord)
> -Printed
> The multitude of documents will be distributed worldwide and many of
> our customers translate and customize the documents to their needs.
> Does anyone know how best to create editable files as well as
> accomplish the other requirements efficiently.
> I believe going to RTF from PDF makes it editable, but you lose the
> graphics (screenshots).
I'd first suggest that you design the FM template to be as rigidly
structured as you can, which will greatly reduce your problems later. In
fact, it wouldn't be a bad idea to get FM+SGML just to use its structuring
power. This will make sure that the structure of every document is identical
to that of every other, and that your tagging is absolutely consistent. If
you're forced to stay with Word part of the time...well, just budget lots of

With a soundly structured base, you should be able to provide both PDF and
printed copy from a single document. The structural adherence now pays off,
because you can run the doc quickly through Exchange or Compose to give
yourself basic links, and do so in a matter of hours. This process gives you
two of your four desired outputs: PDF and print.

For the remainder, I'd see if the customer could take RTF or even ASCII
files for alteration. If they want to alter the documents, they can, but
Lord knows what they'll do, so I'd see if I could supply raw material,
rather than finished stuff that they'll only rip apart anyway. I see little
sense to sending them lovely materials.

The final one, context-sensitive help files, can take the form of either
HTML help, which is fast to convert out of Frame or Word, or WinHelp, which
is actually more functional as context-sensitive help, but harder to make on
the spur of the moment. If you've structured your documents as I suggest,
you can output RTF right from either Word or FM, pull the RTF into a
standalone WinHelp tool, and let the tool automatically slice the RTF into
topics based on your use of tags. Here, again, the tagging and structure
will save you days. Doing things this way, I can create a help file with
hundreds of topics in a matter of eight hours or so. But only if the
original document has no "outliers". If it does, you can chase your tail for
a long time trying to make oddball paragraphs fit into the hypertext scheme.

In short, I'd use the editing tool, preferably FM, as your centerpiece, and
output everything else from there. I wouldn't mess with converting one
format into another. That's a quick way to a slow project, trying to squash
every bug.

Tim Altom
Vice President, Simply Written, Inc.
317.899.5882 (voice) 317.899.5987 (fax)
FrameMaker support ForeHelp support
FrameMaker Conversions
PDF Consulting and Production

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