ParagraphFormatTag vs FormatChangeList

Engaged ,
May 17, 2021 May 17, 2021

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In developing our EDD, I've converted our Paragraph Styles to Format Change Lists, simply because all our Paragraph Styles are really variations of a single base Pararaph Style. Is this the best approach? Or is it better to keep our current Paragraph Styles and use the ParagraphFormatTag property instead?

Historically we've always had problems enforcing paragraph styles, instilling (or at least trying to) in our writers not to make changes to the pre-defined Paragraph Styles. We want to prevent our writers from making these changes and enforce the pre-defined styles.

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Advisor ,
May 18, 2021 May 18, 2021

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Quintin,

   Whether to use paragraph formats defined in the paragraph catalog, formatting properties specified within a particular element definition, declared format change lists, or some combination is often a preference of the EDD developer. One consideration is whether you are using any tools (for example, translation tools or indexing tools) that are based on paragraph tags.  When an element can occur in numerous contexts and you want PDF bookmarks for some but not all of them, it is sometimes easier to define the bookmarks with paragraph tags rather than elements and context labels.

   My own habit is almost always to specify formatting directly in a format rule. I often use variables for strings (such as indent values) that are used repeatedly. I do define FormatChangeLists, but only when they will be used more than once.

       --Lynne

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Engaged ,
May 18, 2021 May 18, 2021

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@Lynne A. PriceGood point about having bookmakrs for some occurances of elements and not others. I was wondering how I would pick up only occurances of Level 1 Heading elements if the same element is used for all headings when creating my Table of Content, but that's a different topic and I'm not there yet.

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Advisor ,
May 19, 2021 May 19, 2021

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Quintin,

   One of the things you can do in a format rule is assign a context label. For example, since you have nested Setions, your EDD can assign context labels called Level1, Level2, Level3, and so forth to a Section dependeing on the context. When you set up a generated list such as a table of context or define element-based bookmarks, instead of simply listing the defined elements, FrameMaker lists elements with their possible context labels. With this example, it would list Section (Level1), Section(Level2) ... Thus, you can bookmark higher-level Sections but ot lower-level Sections. By the way, the context labels can be as simple as 1, 2, 3 ...

           --Lyne

 

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Community Expert ,
May 18, 2021 May 18, 2021

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Because my start with FrameMaker (1993!) was on the unstructured side, I still prefer to reference paragraph, character, and table formats in my EDDs. There are several other reasons that I prefer to do so:

 

1) Many of my clients are transitioning from unstructured to structured FrameMaker and want me to leverage their existing unstructured templates. Also, they may want control over their template's formats and they can still modify the look and feel without having to mess with the EDD.

 

2) Referring to formats instead of doing formatting in the EDD keeps them smaller and more manageable.

 

3) With the formats approach, I can have a single EDD that works with more than one FrameMaker template.

 

I deviate from this in certain instances; for example, I may have a "start" attribute on title elements to control page and column breaks, and I will do this in the EDD instead of having separate paragraph formats. I may also do this for lists where spacing may be different for first or last elements.

 

One thing I miss with this approach is the formatting "inheritance" that can be done through EDD formatting.

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Engaged ,
May 18, 2021 May 18, 2021

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@frameexpertThe "inheritance" is definately something I prefer as all our existing paragraph tags are just variations of the base paragraph style.

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Community Expert ,
May 18, 2021 May 18, 2021

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I used to be "with" Lynne on using the EDD for formatting, and now agree with Rick after seeing:

  • the DITA implementation uses ParagraphFormatTag, which lets you quickly customize a specific element or element context using the Paragraph Designer
  • you'll still need to use the ParagraphFormatTag to publish to HTML, as you map paragraphs, not elements for HTML5 and other output 

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Engaged ,
May 18, 2021 May 18, 2021

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@Matt S - Tech Comm ToolsYour second point about publishing to HTML is the deciding factor for us as we will be publishing to HTML. I was hoping we wouldn't have to maintain our 30+ Paragraph Styles, but alas.

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Community Expert ,
May 18, 2021 May 18, 2021

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Nothing says the paragraph tag needs to style the content, just that it is attached to the element.

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Engaged ,
May 18, 2021 May 18, 2021

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I'm confused now. Wouldn't the paragraph style contain the formatting and therefore make the FormatChangeList redundant?

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Community Expert ,
May 18, 2021 May 18, 2021

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If you had the EDD dialed in (per Lynne's preference) to format the content, you'd still need to have a para tag with As Is settings to allow mapping of that element to HTML publishing via the Publish pod.

In that case, a para tag is applied, but not used for formatting. Not my choice, but if the EDD is already in place, much less work to add the para tag assignment to a "blank" format than to recreate your EDD formatting in the paragraph catalog.

 

-Matt

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Engaged ,
May 18, 2021 May 18, 2021

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That makes sense.

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