Experimenting with XML and DITA to see if it work for my company.
We make unstructured parts manuals in framemaker in a book format that contains a series of parts page documents within the book.
This content must be made available in an XML format with a lot of additional information that we don't require for normal parts manual production -- the xml version must contain fields for remarks, serial numbers, etc.
Right now this requires that the information be reentered in the xml format, filling in fields we have information for.
Was trying to see if books from here on out could be produced in a structured format that could be exported from framemaker to xml.
To test this, I made chapters in xml, and I can save these individually in xml.
And I can export the book file in xml. This produces an xml file referencing the xml chapter titles.
But in order for it to work I'd need the ability to export as one file of the entire book with all the xml in the individual chapters included in that file.
Is that possible?
I do not have an exact answer for you, but I was sad that you got no responses at all. So, I decided to add some general thoughts.
With native features, I do not think that FrameMaker can do what you are asking. But with some additional innovation, it certainly is possible.
Maybe an XSLT stylesheet could combine the data? I am not an XSLT expert so I can't say for sure, but it seems that XSLT has file management capabilities. Somebody smarter than me would have to confirm that.
If nothing else, a very basic ExtendScript or other type of scripting/coding could assemble the data. Is scripting an option?
There is also the possibility that a different structural architecture might be appropriate. For example, maybe DITA is not the right structure definition... would it be possible to use a simpler definition and maintain longer files in FM?
These are just thoughts. It is a very complicated area that will require local study and expertise to reach your goal.
Hadn't gotten to XSLT or scripting yet, but will put it on my list.
I'm not sure I've really understood your requirement, but what we do in our application suggests to me that XSLT in Framemaker will allow you to do exactly what you want. I don't know how familiar you are with XSLT concepts, but it's relatively straightforward to create a pre-processing stylesheet that Frame can run on loading an XML document and have this stylesheet suck in the content of many child (and grand-child, etc.) documents. We do it all the time. We can open the "book" to edit everything at once, or open a "chapter" to edit that, or open a standalone group of paragraphs with an image that is stored as a single XML document.
In our case we have to split any included files apart again on save. I don't know if your requirement needs to do that. If you just want to do a one-time operation that combines all your source documents into one monolithic XML document then you can do that with XSL outside Framemaker.
XSLT is looking like it might be the solution. Don't know much about XSLT at this point, but will research it deeper.
What you're describing that you do sounds exactly like what I'm trying to pull off.