Cross Product Integration : The Journey begins

Technical Communication,RoboHelp,FrameMaker,Captivate,Acrobat 3D,HAT,Help Authoring,Knowledge Base,Policies and Procedures

With FrameMaker 8, we began our journey towards closer integration among Adobe products for technical communicators. With four products, FrameMaker, RoboHelp, Captivate and Acrobat 3D, catering to the needs of technical communicators, we have best in class products for each requirement. Now with much closer integration among these products, we are enabling new workflows.

FrameMaker 8 has two novel features – (a) insert a SWF file and (b) insert a 3D file. Using Captivate, you can create a software simulation and generate a Flash (SWF) output. With FrameMaker 8, you can now embed the SWF file in a document and when you save as PDF, the PDF generated contains the Flash demo. The end users can now play the Flash demo by double-clicking the SWF file in the PDF. We recognize that FrameMaker document also gets printed and the author needs an image (instead of the SWF) to print the document. There are two options there. One, before you publish a Flash demo from Captivate, select a pre-loader image. This pre-loader image is visible in FrameMaker and when you take a print of the document, this image will be printed as part of the document. Second option is to use conditional text to specify an image for print purposes.

Update – To ensure that Captivate includes the Playback Control in the published SWF, de-select the borders option in Captivate before you publish. Go to menu Project -> Skin, select the tab Borders and de-select the Show Borders check box. If you use this option, then the SWF will show the playback controls in the generated PDF. If you click on the SWF in the Adobe Reader, you can scroll, play, pause and stop the playback.

Use of 3D files in documentation opens up a new paradigm in technical communication. You no longer need long descriptions of the 3D models, designs or diagrams in the document. A short description with the 3D file in the document should now suffice. In addition, this substantially improves the user experience. With FrameMaker 8, you can now embed a U3D file (with Acrobat 3D, you can convert a large number of CAD formats into U3D format) and when you save as PDF, the PDF generated contains the 3D file. The end users can now double click on the 3D file in the PDF and can rotate, enlarge and view the 3D object in different ways. From printing perspective, there is a feature in Acrobat 3D to define default views for the 3D object. In FrameMaker, you can select one of the default views and the printed documented will have that default image.

During the Sneak Peek of RoboHelp at the STC Conference in Minneapolis, we also demonstrated closer integration between RoboHelp (currently under development) and FrameMaker. Cross product integration is a long journey and with FrameMaker 8, we have moved significantly forward. For sure, we have many more milestones to cross.

Please do share your comments and suggestions.