Text frames and flows

Advisor ,
May 05, 2017 May 05, 2017

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The purpose of this note is to share some understanding that I recently acquired about the interaction of text frames and flows. In particular:

1) Applying a master page to a body page does not affect the Room for Side Heads property of any flows on the body page.

2) Importing document properties from one document to another sets Room for Side Heads in all body flows in the destination document with the same flow tag as the main flow in the source document. The property in those flows is set to the same value as in the main flow of the source document. For example, if the main flow in the source document is tagged B and the destination document has one flow tagged A and another tagged B, body flows tagged B in the destination will wind up with the same Room for Side Head setting as in the main flow of the source document. Flows tagged A on the body page and flows tagged B on master pages are not affected.

3) The Text Frame page of the Text Frame Properties dialog has an area marked Flow. It contains a text box for the flow tag, three check boxes (labeled Autoconnect, PostScript Code, and Room for Side Heads), text boxes labeled Width and Gap, and a pop-up menu labeled Side. The arrangement of these fields makes it clear that Width, Gap, and Side relate to Room for Side Heads. However, Room for Side Heads is a flow property and Width, Gap, and Side are text frame properties. I plan on submitting an enhancement request to ask that the dialog box be redesigned to clarify that the properties labeled "Flow" apply to the content of the text frame rather than the frame itself and to clarify that Width, Gap, and Side are not flow properties.

I had to think about it for a while, but most of this now makes sense to me. Loosely defined, a text frame is a rectangular area on a page that can hold text and other content such as tables and anchored frames. That content is a flow, and the flow may extend over several frames on one page or on multiple pages. The particular frame that holds any part of the content depends how much content precedes the segment of interest. Therefore, the use of side heads is a flow property. Applying master pages affects text frames rather than the flows they contain and therefore applying a master page does not affect Room for Side Heads. The effect of importing document properties on Room For Side Heads setting is understandable but not intuitive. If importing document properties did not affect this setting, then another method of copying the setting from one document to another would be needed.

It also makes sense that Width, Gap, and Side are text frame rather than flow properties. Suppose a page contains two connected text frames. One, for instance, might be used tor a title and the other for the titled content. Just as the fonts and other paragraph properties for the two parts of the content may differ, properties of any side heads may also differ (except, the property that indicates whether side heads can be used).

I really wish there were different dialog boxes for setting text frame properties and flow properties. A dialog box for a flow, though, would require a way of selecting the flow. FrameMaker provides a way to select the content in the flow and each text frame containing part of it, but it does not provide a method for selecting the flow itself.

Anyway, I hope this rambling makes sense and that someone out there finds it to be of some use.

    --Lynne

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