I've worked hard to answer this question myself, but need to turn to the forum members for help.
I have a book that is separated in to files as follows. This is illustrative only - there are dozens of files in the book.
Section 1.fm (<$paratext[SectionTitle]>=Before You Begin)
Introduction.fm (this is currently chapter 1;there is no instance of SectionTitle so that chapter files can be reordered under different sections by just reordering files in the book)
Important Safety Information.fm
Section 2.fm (<$paratext[SectionTitle]>=Key Pump Features)
Other chapter files here.fm
There is thumbnail text in the chapter files that needs to reference the SectionTitle text (which is only found in the section files).
So - there are five chapters in Section 1 that have thumbnails that need to read and fill in "Before You Begin"
The book is designed so that when a product manager decides to add a new chapter or rename a section or add a section divider, this can be done very quickly. However, this is the first time I've needed to pull text from a separate file.
I've read about using a cross reference, but that means that 12 master pages need to be updated in every chapter with a specific cross reference, right? (Not acceptable.)
I don't believe a cross reference can be inserted into a variable, can it?
Please tell me Adobe has thought of this and made it easy for this type of book management.
Not quite getting why you think you need a variable - if you're just wanting to pull text in from another file, why not either just copy it and paste it into your shell chapters or use a text inset to pull the source content?
Hi Jeff - everything needs to be updatable, so copy/paste won't work. To make things more complicated, some of the chapters are shared with other user manuals, so I really need them to read the information they need during book update and not have to set any static values.
I'm not sure what you mean by text inset? I have a running header footer set up in the chapters now to pull <$paratext[SectionTitle]>. However, it only works if the section title is in the chapter file, and that defeats what I'm trying to do.
Sorry, still not getting a good picture of what you're trying to achieve - if I set up a new chapter in section1, and copy & paste content into it from wherever, why would it not be update-able? Anyone with FM can come in and edit the content I've dumped in there.
If you're referring to someone updating the original source material, then I would be looking at using text insets (look them up in the FM help) - then the person can edit away in the original docs (in Word or FM or text editor) and when you update the book, you choose to refresh the text insets that draw their content from the source doc.
So is the bottom line that there is no way for a chapter to "read" information from another chapter through paratext or variable? (cross-reference would definitely not work, since this is more of a push of information than a pull which breaks when chapters are rearranged)
I apologize that I'm not explaining the need well. I want to change the position of any files in a book, update the book, and be done. Low maintenance = low cost of ownership.
The only way for a chapter to "read" big chunks of info from somewhere else is to use a text inset - you can rearrange your chapters til the cows come home and update away then. The beauty of them is that when you change the content in the source doc, it gets propagated out to all the places that are using that same content. It's that re-usability of content in the unstructured FM world.
Some ways to implement shared relocatable text:
You can use a variable with the section title in one of the files in your sections and import the variables into the other new files of that section.
Then your thumbnails get updated automatically.
That's very quick and very easy to do.
Is this what you mean?
Of course you can also create a separate file with only the section title.
Then you can import this text as text inset.
If the file name of this section title file does not change, this is independent of the location.
However, you must move the new file with your file manager. Do not use Save As in FrameMaker.