It would be great if FrameMaker would allow two separate views of variables one for system variables and another for user variables. It could be a tabbed item on the variable pod or at least sectioned in the variable view. Otherwise one spends a lot of time searching around for user variables that are inserted among all the system variables in alphabetical order. Another feature that would bring FrameMaker into a vast range of technical writing would be to create a pod for Database document creation giving Framemaker the ability to connect to a database via ODBC and import or map table rows into the user variables. This should have always been a feature in FrameMaker but we are all still waiting for it and spending a fortune in programming and special programs just for something all of the major desktop publishers have like wordperfect.. I mean where is even a mail merge in frameMaker yet you are touting framemaker as a replacement for Word with respect to long document and it should be. FrameMaker is a backbone program for a lot of data driven documents but why are you making us all jump through all these hoops just to connect to a data source and use the data in an efficient way? Oh yea framemaker has the ability it just hasn't created the facility right out of the box. Which should be a new feature of framemaker.
Feel free to submit this as a feature request on the FM Bugbase - https://bugbase.adobe.com/
This here’s a user-to-user area, partner ;>)
Gee I am new to this board but when I wrote this up I had this great big header on top saying something like Feature Requests: And then there was this make your feature request questions or the like which I thought was a little off. That's why I went on and on. so now feature request are under bugs. that's good to know. Thanks.
I sympathise about the variables: which, indeed, used to be neatly chunked by system and user until someone decided alphabetical order was more useful. (my suspicion would be that someone was overly influenced by the Mac Finder, which can't even tell a folder from a file …)
People do manage database-driven publishing with FrameMaker, though I've no idea whether this is OOB or not.
For a relatively inexpensive approach (i.e. a "freebie") you could have a look at the Miramo personal edition to use with FM for database publishing (see www.miramo.com).
In the Pod view the system and user variables are differentiated by colour - not great, but at least there is some visual differentiation.
I looked at miramo once a long time ago and thought its tagging and programming language was at that time a heavy investment in time and the license is a bit tricky for a business. I think their idea is to get people to invest the effort in learning their arcane methods so as to get a base of people who know something about it. The real problem with Miramo is that it is probably one of the most expensive software products on earth. I will probably end up in the framescript camp if I have to go deep. Its just that framescript has zero HOW TO support and if there is any it is usually in Germam which I can't read. I ran across a blog once that had some information but I lost track I suppose most people who endevor to work with framescript aren't novices to programing and don't need any step by steps.
The Miramo Personal Edition is currently a freebie (however, the PE version limits you to one active session at a time on a desktop version, so if you're not cranking out thousands of documents overnight in a server environment, the price is quite right ). They also just introduced a plug-in at Tekom 2015 today [demonstrated by Scott Prentice of Leximation who makes the DITA-FMx tool] to publish DITA format content using their new page designer module [i.e. no FM required] - orders of magnitude easier than trying to program output via XSL-FO.
Framescript help is available in the US through various sources and one of the foremost experts (Rick Quatro a.k.a. frameexpert) hangs out in these forums. He has written a book on programming in Framescript that, IIRC, you can order as a PDF directly from him. On the other hand, you could try programming using Extendscript that is included in the price of FM.
Miramo's approach to automated publishing isn't really that arcane. You have two routes to go: XML stylesheets or using their macro pre-processor program (or whatever code tool you want to wrap content in XML). Both are very powerful, but as any programming language, it takes some effort to learn and be proficient. I've been using it for about 15 years now and find very little that it can't do.