From Print to Online Summary

Subject: From Print to Online Summary
From: Deborah Crossman <DLCrossman -at- AOL -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 1999 20:39:17 EDT

Reply-to: Gerry -at- InfoDesign -dot- com -dot- au (Gerry Gaffney)

I can't comment specifically on FrameMaker. However, I have been involved in
converting a lot of docs from paper to online format.

I have some general comments:

- To do the job properly, the paper-based documentation will almost
certainly require some serious re-writing. It's also the case that many
organisations simply won't do this becuase it's 'too expensive' and they'd
rather have unusable documentation. Such is life.

Reasons for the re-write include:

- People read less online than on paper (estimates vary; 30% less seems to
be widely quoted); therefore a trim will almost certainly be rquired. Online
writing can be much more terse (in general) than print writing.
Interestingly enough, it's relatively easy to take text from online to
printed format in this regard.
- Graphics may be too big to fit in windows and hence need to be re-done or
- Colours used in graphics may not work correctly on the target environment
- Cross-references will need to be changed to links and checked, or deleted
- It may be necesssary to define different types of windows (e.g procedures
may appear in cue cards, reference material in a larger window, and so on)

When converting from paper to online, I always try and push very hard for at
least a language edit; otherwise the online versions can be seriously ugly.

From Word to winhelp or HTML or whatever there are many tools (such as HDK)
which do quite a good job. I imagine other list members can recommend
FrameMaker options.


From: LDurway -at- pav -dot- com (Lindsey Durway)
Sender: Framers -at- FrameUsers -dot- com
To: Framers -at- FrameUsers -dot- com

A few weeks ago I offered to send my Frame-to-HTML conversion doc to anyone
interested. Two or three hundred folks responded, and I sent my doc out to
each of you. It occurs to me, however, that email software might have
balked at the message and failed to send it to you, or perhaps it was in an
unusable format in the first place (I sent it from Outlook running on
Windows NT, with my Frame doc included in it). So maybe you got it but
couldn't extract the FM file, or whatever. Anyhow, if you requested my doc
but have not heard back from me, it's not because I slacked off: it's
because some bit of software lying between you and me didn't like my
message. Before anyone writes and asks for a copy of my doc, I'd like to
make a request: does anyone out there have a web site where you could post
my doc so that interested parties could download it directly? I don't want
to field anymore email requests for it--it's eating into my work time. If
anyone would volunteer to post my doc on a web site, you'll get mucho

From: okeefe -at- scriptorium -dot- com (Sarah O'Keefe)
Sender: Framers -at- FrameUsers -dot- com
To: LDurway -at- pav -dot- com (Lindsey Durway), Framers -at- FrameUsers -dot- com

We have posted this at


From: garyh -at- hillysun -dot- com (Gary Hillerson)
Sender: Framers -at- FrameUsers -dot- com
To: Framers -at- FrameUsers -dot- com

Thanks to Lindsey for all the efforts explaining why you use Frame.

I have to say that for the situations I'm in - contracting at very Silicon
Valley companies - WebWorks Publisher presents a much better solution. Yes,
it's very painful to learn, and it's very complex, and it does some things
that I absolutely hate (like switching the default printer driver).

However, if your organization uses templates and the writers strictly
adhere to those templates, you can create a single WebWorks template that
will work with all of those documents. Getting the WWP template to function
properly will take some time, but once it works, it works. And creating a
different version for different output types - like WinHelp - is then an
iterative process.


The approach depends on your goals. Are you interested in moving to
based (i.e. XML/SGML) delivery? Or, would you be happy with a quick and
conversion to PDF, or HTML? Even more important: What are your needs/budget?

I've grouped approaches into three categories of difficulty. Those
that I am familiar include some commentary:

A great starting place. PDF is a good tool, friendly GUI, etc., but, "locks"
out of the ability to apply standards based SGML/XML or allow true content
Benefits: Cheap, Quick, Easy
Note: Frame has a simplified path to PDF (naturally) with a "Save As" to

"Save As HTML" (from FrameMaker 5.5): Quick and easy. Some wrangling the
conversion tables may be necessary.

"Save As XML" (from FrameMaker 5.5.6): From what I've seen this option is
much "under construction" and won't work until the W3C ratifies XSSL and TOC
stylesheets. The XML displays with IE5 but, without the formatting that is
essential to documents.


(These products will take some deep pockets but, are not aligned with
that I am aware:

- Quadralay Corp: WebWorks Publisher

- Chrystal Software - Astoria

High end:

SGML/XML publishing systems where there are several emerging products:

Warning: None of these products are "shrinkwrapped". All will take
development($$), and time ($$)

- ArborText: BladeRunner and affiliated tools. BladeRunner is currently
to .DOC files. ArborText does have other tools that will help in the
AdeptEditor is extremely agile in converting from/to most any format.

- Inso Corp: DynaTag,DynaWeb. These tools take Frame's MIF (Maker
Format) and after some armwrestling result in your choice of XML or SGML,
optomized for CD-ROM, and/or served up as HTML. Powerful searching and
language friendly

Also, in PDF or HTML it works the same. Just make sure your targets are where
(directory-wise) you specify in Frame's Special/Marker/Hypertext.

We currently maintain an internal doc index with links inserted in Frame
save as PDF. The marker path is set to a subdirectory where the doc resides
our fileserver. (It's the number one site on our Intranet next to the
home page)
Click the link and BINGO the PDF displays.

Keep in mind PDFs can be slow to load when dealing with documents in color
manuals with 100+ pages. (If we were doing it again I would push for
manuals into bite-size chunks.)

FTPing to your site is the fun part. : ) )

Don't forget Test, Test, Test those links or look foolish with a 404 error


Reply-to: Kathi -dot- Knill -at- template -dot- com (Kathi Jan Knill)

For creating online doc from Framemaker doc, I have used the
Adobe Acrobat to create pdf files and then I put the appropriate
links into the pdf files directly. It is a very user friendly
product, so it would not be hard for you to pick up. The only
drawback is
that pdf files can only be read using Adobe Reader -- of course
the Reader
is a free download from the Adobe site so that really shouldn't
be an issue
(I just included it because some people have indicated that it
was an issue
for them). Easiest method is for you to provide the reader to
your customer
on the media in which you present the help file(s).
The nice thing about the pdf files is that they print just like
pages that
Framemaker would print -- and you don't need a specific printer.

For turning Framemaker files into online help, a nice product
that is also easy to pick up since you know Frame, is Quadralay's
Web Works Publisher. It allows you to create HTML Help, WinHelp,
JavaHelp, etc. You can get more information and an evaluation
copy at their website:

If you don't get a lot of responses to your posting, I'd suggest
checking the archives. I am sure that this question has come up
Good luck.


From: EOlive -at- glhec -dot- org (Olive, Eric)
To: DLCrossman -at- aol -dot- com ('DLCrossman -at- AOL -dot- COM')

The easiest thing to do is to use Adobe Acrobat to create PDF files. The PDF
format creates small and easily portable files.

1. Buy Adobe Acrobat (the reader is free but you need Distiller which is not
2. Print each FrameMaker file/book to PostScript.
3. Open the PostScript File (again, the PS file can be an entire Frame book)
in Distiller.
4. Tell it where to save the PDF file you are about to create.
Voila, an online document.


From: mcgowan -at- loran -dot- com (Kevin McGowan)
To: DLCrossman -at- aol -dot- com

go to

and many of your questions will be answered.



From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=

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