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formatting structured documents

Advisor ,
Sep 24, 2013

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So … I have a whole bookmap's worth of valid DITA files I've developed with XML Mind, and it seemed to me they would be a good starting point if I want to explore using structured FM for DITA.

The first thing that hits me when I open any of these files in FM10 is that FM (naturally) applies its own page layouts and paragraph styles. Purely logical, since I haven't defined anything else. Keeping my fingers well away from ths structure, I use the familiar paragraph designer to update the styles FM has applied and soon have a pleasing combination of DITA structure and FM layout … until I save and re-open the document, and find all my formatting has been discarded.

Deceptively simple – can of worms perched on tip of iceberg – question: what do I have to do to update the layout/styles? I realise there may be many more styles defined than elements used by my simple DITA files, and (even) that the inheritance we miss in unstructured FM may suddenly spring in to complicate matters in structured: but if I want to keep my readers and clients happy, I need to wrap the fine bones of structure in the fair flesh of formatting. Keeping me happy wouldn't be so bad, either :-}

N

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formatting structured documents

Advisor ,
Sep 24, 2013

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So … I have a whole bookmap's worth of valid DITA files I've developed with XML Mind, and it seemed to me they would be a good starting point if I want to explore using structured FM for DITA.

The first thing that hits me when I open any of these files in FM10 is that FM (naturally) applies its own page layouts and paragraph styles. Purely logical, since I haven't defined anything else. Keeping my fingers well away from ths structure, I use the familiar paragraph designer to update the styles FM has applied and soon have a pleasing combination of DITA structure and FM layout … until I save and re-open the document, and find all my formatting has been discarded.

Deceptively simple – can of worms perched on tip of iceberg – question: what do I have to do to update the layout/styles? I realise there may be many more styles defined than elements used by my simple DITA files, and (even) that the inheritance we miss in unstructured FM may suddenly spring in to complicate matters in structured: but if I want to keep my readers and clients happy, I need to wrap the fine bones of structure in the fair flesh of formatting. Keeping me happy wouldn't be so bad, either :-}

N

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Structured

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Sep 24, 2013 0
Contributor ,
Sep 24, 2013

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Hi Niels,

before you start to define your own styles, you need to answer yourself one question: are you going to format your text in the EDD or with paragraph styles?

The crowd out there is sometimes discussing this matter very enthusiasticly, but in my opinion this is only a matter of taste.

If you decide to do it in the EDD, you will have to define the formatting overrides right there.

If you decide to do it with para styles, you will have to add/edit the context rules of the elements with the para styles you want to use.

So much for the theory.

In practice, you first need to find out, which templates your FM uses to display the DITA files. This is depending on what topic type you use and can be tweaked in the structapp definition (you will also find the pathes to the default templates there).

After identifying the template(s), that is/are used, you will need to edit its EDD. To do this you open the template and save its structure definitions as new EDD. Then you do the edit (refer to the structapp_dev_guide) of the context rules and/or the formatting overrides.

When you're finished (or to test a change), you import the structure definitions back into the template (make sure to make backup of it).

If you do the formatting with para styles, you need to define those in the template according to the style names you defined in the EDD.

The structured templates work more or less just like the templates in unstructured FM, but on import (file open) they are formatting the XML content according to the defined context rules.

Sounds complicated, and is complicated, if you really want to define loads of special formatting.

Sounds complicated,  but is easy, if you stick to a straightforward layout.

Key here is, to not let your context rules go wild. Keep them at a realistic level. There is rarely a need to nest lists deeper than two layers or to use lots of different spacers on end or starting lines.

I think this might be at least some info to start with.

Everything else is reading, trail and error, and more reading.

-Cheers Alex

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Sep 24, 2013 0
Advisor ,
Sep 24, 2013

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If you do the formatting with para styles, you need to define those in the template according to the style names [you] defined in the EDD.

But that's what I thought I'd done, by opening a structured document and editing the styles FM proposed as and when the document calls for them – which seems to me like the most comfortable way to approach the issue. I'm not immediately enthusiastic about having to edit an EDD with goodness knows how many definitions (that is, matching the full DITA spec) instead of updating around twenty style definitions; not unless editing the EDD turns out to be as easy as editing a style definition, anyway, and I'll keep an open mind on that until bitten.

I'll register my disappointment <g> … dust off the notes from a structured Frame course I took some years ago and start with the trial and error.

N

[ps] I agree entirely about keeping context rules simple, especially for multi-level lists – when are these ever going to help the reader?

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Sep 24, 2013 0
New Here ,
Nov 19, 2020

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So this topic is seven years old, and there has been no update to the process, but I am also looking for a clear description of how to make the Frame DITA UI more WYSIWIG by simply changing a few styles, such as changing title.0 paragraph style to use Blue font instead of Black. But it never retains the changes when I reopen the dita file.

 

Can someone provide an ordered list of the steps for just a simple change like that? (I get lost with general instructions like "find the topic type template you use, tweak the the structapp definition, and edit the EDD".)

 

Anyone?

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Nov 19, 2020 0
Advisor ,
Nov 19, 2020

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Hah! I've taken occasional looks at FM as a DITA environment since that original posting, and stayed with XML Mind: there it took me just a couple of simple, relatively well-documented steps to apply a corporate colour to headings and indent all body text. Job done … but I would like to have been able to carry on in FM.

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Nov 19, 2020 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Nov 20, 2020

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Hi. I don't have time to type out a list of steps, mainly because I would have to double-check the process, but if you can meet for an hour, I can walk you through the process and you can make your own notes. There would be no cost for the meeting. Next week would be better. I am on Eastern Standard time in the US. If you are interested, please contact me offlist: rick at frameexpert dot com. Thank you.

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Nov 20, 2020 1
Adobe Community Professional ,
Nov 20, 2020

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If both of you want to meet with me at the same time, that would be fine with me.

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Nov 20, 2020 0
New Here ,
Nov 20, 2020

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That sounds great, Rick!

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Nov 20, 2020 0
Advisor ,
Nov 22, 2020

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That's a very generous offer, Rick; thank-you. I'll be in touch off-list.

 

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Nov 22, 2020 0