Resolution of some difficulties distilling a large doc

Subject: Resolution of some difficulties distilling a large doc
From: Mark Dempsey <mxd2 -at- OSI -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 26 Mar 1999 13:15:56 -0800

A few weeks ago I wrote techwr-l, frameusers, and adobe tech support
about problems I was having distilling a large (2500+ page) Frame doc.

I've since succeeded in fixing this, but not without learning much more
than I wanted to know about fixing corrupted FrameMaker files. The
suggestions I received from the listservs and Adobe tech support, while
welcome, were not useful (e.g. making sure I had enough swap space).

I think the origin of this problem was that the docs a) originated with
Frame 4.0 or earlier (distillation failed with both Solaris and Windows
Frame 5.5.6), and b) were also part of a FrameViewer online help system,
since abandoned.

For what it's worth, here are the tips in case anyone else needs to fix
a Frame doc that just won't distill:

Important: keep notes about what you've done as you try the list below.
I made at least 50 iterations of my distillation attempt and discovered
how handy notes can be. This *does* work, but you must be patient,
persistent, thrifty, brave, clean & reverent.
Either that or Dopey and Grumpy...

Follow these steps:

1. Isolate the problem. If you can distill without one file, but can't
with it, then that file's the problem. I recommend the binary search
algorithm: Distill half the book, then three quarters, then seven
eighths, etc. This was a 100-chapter book, so many distillations were
made to isolate the problem.

Once you've found the source(s) of your problems, however, I cannot
guarantee you that discovery will be definitive. Cross-references
between chapters, TOC's and indexes and chapters are common, and either
side of the cross-reference can be the problem's source, Return to
#1 if, after fixing the discovered source, problems persist, and see if
corruption hasn't shown up elsewhere.

2. Mif and resave the corrupt mif file in Frame format. Try distilling
now.

If that doesn't work:

3. Rename the chapters, and remake all the inter-chapter
cross-references. Note: do *not* copy the chapters to a new name, move
them (cut & paste) or rename them. If you leave the old chapters
around, you can't search for unresolved cross-references to remake
these.

If that doesn't work (especially if you get makefont errors)

4. Delete all character and paragraph formatting and re-generate them
(!ftf). One note here: you must also remake the book file itself. You
can also Mif the book and see all the fonts in all chapters. If fonts
are part of the problem, you may want to ensure you have the correct
fonts in all chapters, then re-make the book from scratch (discard the
old book). To find what fonts are in a chapter, do File | Generate |
List of References (select Fonts). Select all text in the generated font
list, make it a table and sort it for easy reference. Make all fonts
listed hyper-linked and you can click (in UNIX [Ctrl+right-click]) to go
to the spot and change the font in paragraph or character designer.

If that doesn't work.

5. Export the file as text, open it (as text) in Frame and re-format the
chapter. It's OK to import formatting from the old, corrupted chapter,
but be very careful to select, copy, and paste screenshots and
illustrations a piece at a time. I found plenty of empty text frames and
empty graphics frames within anchored illustration's frames that may
have been the source of my problem.

If that doesn't work.

6. Go back to #1 and see if other files are the source of the problem
(or retype the chapter, retake the screenshots).

If that doesn't work, go back to #1 and see if other files are the
source of the problem.

--
Regards,

-- mailto:Mark -dot- Dempsey -at- osi -dot- com
--
-- Mark Dempsey
-- Technical Publications
-- Objective Systems Integrators
-- 110 Woodmere, Folsom, CA 95630
-- 916.353.2400 x 4777


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