Sorry about this question but I am a newbie to Adobe FrameMaker so, here goes -
Let's say I need to create a software installation/user guide in FrameMaker. I need the output in various formats obviously - PDF, online help, and so on. Can an unstructured document created in FrameMaker be used to generate different formats or do I need to create a structured document using DITA/XML?
Also, how does the formatting in structured documents work in FrameMaker? Any insights would be appreciated. I am currently getting the hang of DITA, and it sounds more practical to use it since my current and future projects call for it.
Copy link to clipboard
Can unstructured FM produce multiple outputs? Yes.
Is structured FM more applicable? Maybe - depends on your amount of reuse and localization required.
Does it make sense to create a structured document and then create different EDDs for multiple output formats?
Or create an unstructured document with the formatting and then convert it into a structured document?
IIRC, since the whole point of structured is to not deal with formatting in your content, I would say that your second question is moot. AFAIK, you have to create different transforms to get your structured content out into different output formats. Your main focus should be on if you need to go structured or not. That's a whole different discussion & the answer depends on your particular situation. I would reach out to content strategy gurus like Matt Sullivan or the folks at Scriptorium for advice like that.
You might create separate EDDs for separate PDF outputs, as the EDD contains both the structure model (DITA or other model) and the formatting info.
However, if you have only one look and feel for your PDF output then you would only use 1 EDD. See the structured Fm forum for more info.
Copy link to clipboard
Unstructured docs will get you everything you need, but structure can be more cost-efficient in a number of situations.
Structure helps with:
If you have no need to deliver a specific structured document type (like DITA, a mil-spec, or aviation model) then you'll likely appreciate starting with an unstructured system. You can move later to structure.
While there is some duplication of effort using this method, it's easier to get a working system than starting cold with everything in a structured environment that will eventually be an advantage.
For an idea of what to expect in structure, I recommend looking at my two structured workbooks, available at http://techcommtools.com/books/
Thanks, Matt. I have been reading the pros and cons of both and will soon choose a strategy. Will keep you posted.
To add to Matt's list, well-designed structured documents help the user include all required document components in a permitted order and prevent including material that does not match a defined structure in a permitted context.
I had no problem creating a PDF and CHM or Responsive HTML.
You can use templates and conditional text to achieve fine tuning