I've seen instructions for using side heads or table formats. Is there any other way to get an icon to appear to the left rather than just above or below?
It's pretty easy to do it manually with an anchored frame, ahead of the first character of the paragraph, At Insertion Point. Adjust borders to suit. Import graphic object into it. Then set tag indents as desired.
But if what you want is for this to happen automatically as part of the Paragraph Format, that's not so simple, unless FM has added some capability in later versions.
One hack would be to get your icon converted (perhaps via FontForge) to an OpenType font, ideally a Unicode character in Private Use Area code space. Then just use it like an ordinary autonumber. I'd target the U+E000..U+F8FF range of the BMP, as I have no idea how well FM supports the higher planes (U+F0000..U+FFFFD and U+100000..U+10FFFD).
For a simple glyph, even a freebie on-line converter might do, like icomoon. I just tried it, and quickly got a TTF back from an SVG.
For a complex glyph, and/or one with multiple colors, it would probably be worth paying someone who knows their way around fonts to generate the OTF for you (and that person would not be me - I've already told you more than I know).
What type of paragraph are talking about? A heading? An alert or note para?
Here are instructions I wrote up for two of my students for the latter scenario: https://www.rockymountaintraining.com/adobe-framemaker-adding-icons-in-front-of-text/ This was for Fm 11, but works with all versions. Once the first table is set up, you can quickly add additional tables (pre-formatted) with Table > Insert Table, or the keyboard shortcut Esc ti.
fwiw, here's how I deal with it … sideheads help headings stand out for easy navigation, and I don't get beaten up for using tables for layout :-}
re: …sideheads help headings stand out for easy navigation, and I don't get beaten up for using tables for layout :-}
Well, the OP did indicate awareness of both the SH and TBL approaches, and wanted something else. Of course, we still don't know precisely what is desired from a layout, workflow and stewardship standpoint. Any of the 4 techniques discussed so far would be fine for print and PDF workflows.
HTML, XML and eBook workflows have different considerations, and would require testing.
For example, I have no idea how FM flows SH layouts to those paths, and tables could result in something that doesn't scroll smoothly, and may not be treated as part of the main flow for copy or print-selection. The anchored frame technique requires careful selection of graphic object format.
Icon-as-custom-font has workflow issues as well, due to being a non-standard font that would have to be embedded and/or assured-available as a web font.