How to integrate FrameMaker 9 with a WebDAV based CMS

With FrameMaker 9 comes a new way to work with files on a CMS (Content Management Server) that supports HTTP/WebDAV protocol. WebDAV is a kind of extension over HTTP which allows user to write files on Web along with usual viewing. Multiple users can collaboratively edit and manage files hosted on the Web server. Since many of today’s CMS servers provide users with a WebDAV route to access and edit files, FrameMaker 9 can automate the collaborative tasks by providing direct ways to view and make changes to files on CMS systems.

To setup a new CMS server and work with it using FrameMaker 9, initial configurations are required on the server side only. One is required to host any of the FrameMaker supported WebDAV servers on a machine. The list of supported servers includes Alfresco CMS, Apache Tomcat and Microsoft’s IIS server. Anyhow the feature works well with other WebDAV-based servers too. The server machine may either be situated in Intranet or can be remotely located. Other steps to set the server up comprises of establishing a file-structure that will be shared among contributors and creating a list of users who will have password-protected access to files on the server.

At the FrameMaker end, user is simply required to mention HTTP paths of files wherever required. For example, to open an FM file on WebDAV server, user only needs to type the HTTP URL of the file in the File->Open box and open it. If the file required being modified, just make changes and save the file. In a similar manner, user can import HTTP objects, open XML files, Books and Ditamaps, create references to HTTP files, etc. This is made possible with native HTTP path support added in FrameMaker 9. Almost all FrameMaker workflows now support HTTP paths. Frame 9 provides out-of-the-box HTTP integration where user is kept free from the network operations going internally. FrameMaker by itself manages file-caching for user, automatically downloads and uploads files and checks them in and out if required.

The support is not restricted to WebDAV servers in particular; operations that do not involve editing a file (e.g. importing a graphic or a DTD in XML) can even be carried out on files that belong to non-WebDAV HTTP servers.

Besides, FrameMaker 9 also consists of a new WebDAV browser. This browser can be accessed through the “Browse URL” button that can be found on any of File->Open, Import and Save dialogs. The browser is used to list the content of WebDAV server. The dialog also provides user with a set of file operations like create a new folder on server and rename or delete a file. This dialog comes handy especially when user does not remember the HTTP URL of file he needs to open or import. All he has to do is to browse to that particular folder through WebDAV browser and double-click the required file item. This will copy the file’s URL to the Open or Import dialog and will save substantial typing of user each time.

The presented flash demo illustrates some of the common DITA workflows that can be performed over files on WebDAV server. The flash presentation includes opening a Ditamap from one server, making changes to Ditamap, adding HTTP Topicrefs and Conrefs from another server into Ditamap, modifying the Topicrefs and saving them back, converting HTTP Ditamap into a composite document and uploading the generated document to the server. I hope you like the demonstration.

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Jatin Sanghvi
FrameMaker Engineering