Benefits of “Easy” XML Authoring

In this FIRST episode of a 3-part series with Tom Aldous, the benefits of EASY XML AUTHORING are covered in detail. Aldous begins the session with a strategic view of content, structure and content re-use. Extensive DEMOs of FrameMaker as an XML authoring solution underscore this product’s unique powers.

You may view the RECORDING by clicking on the TITLE below:

Aldous Sess 1) Benefits of Easy XML Authoring: Migrate from old unstructured doc workflow to XML

Note: When you follow this link, you will come to our event page. There you will need to click on [REGISTER] to obtain access to the recording. You will receive a confirmation webpage that has a link with the webinar name. Click on this link and you will see title and description, and the [REGISTER] button will have changed to [VIEW NOW].

Minute Markers to Key Points in Recording


INTRO by Dustin Vaughn


INTRO for Tom Aldous


Aldous covering GENERIC CHALLENGES OF CONTENT … many still work in organizations where content is not recognized as a strategic asset.


“Lack of respect” is challenge – must become aligned with corporate goals


Getting the funding that you need to succeed – often a challenge … a move to XML is a wise move, but funding is necessary


Controlling your career path has been a challenge in recent times


Challenges of Unstructured Authoring:- Not all unstructured applications are created equal (e.g. Notepad) - Match your tool to the requirements of your goals - Many unstructured doc apps outside of FrameMaker were not created for TechComm


Even unstructured FrameMaker allows you to break up long files with a useful container – non-FM applications are often prone to crashing when you get over 400 pages …


Need to break up content into multiple files – a challenge to maintain consistency with less powerful authoring tools


Benefits of being able to “conditional” content in FrameMaker. Less powerful tools do not have this advantage. XML has ditaval which also allows you to publish conditionally.


most unstructured editors are very weak at cross-referencing. FrameMaker automates the process and works well across multiple files, *even* in unstructured files


most unstructured editors have no automatic generation of lists (e.g. List of Figures) in very long documents – Aldous has seen extreme examples where 3 people worked on manual TOCs


Sharing content is a challenge outside of FrameMaker in unstructured editors




Consistent automatically applied formatting … need nested lists, etc. to always be identical – an XML workflow in FrameMaker is superior to unstructured FrameMaker, which allows format overrides – XML FrameMaker empowers people to use their industry domain knowledge


XML makes it easy for an organization to change (e.g. re-branding documentation after a corporate merger) – an entire doc set can be changed in just a couple of hours …


much easier to exchange content with other organization … content is basically a coded text file that can be re-purposed to someone else’s look n’ feel.


EASIER to RE-USE XML CONTENT – standard structure for caution, warning or note = one instance used many times


Easier ot make mass updates via XSLT for major transformations. FrameMaker XML enables you to automatically apply XSLT on open and save – [previous recorded webinar with ALDOUS has a deep dive on this topic] …


improved SPEED OF NEW PRODUCT INTRODUCTIONS – need for constant updates is very dramatic in SW industry


ROI just got faster … payback on massive saved time from automated XML in FrameMaker is quite dramatic


No need to learn a “style guide” or worry about formatting. The burden of memorizing dozens of format-specific paragraphs is eliminated with XML. STYLE GUIDES are extremely difficult to enforce.


OBSERVATION: older versions of FrameMaker 5 or 6 versions ago were more limited with XML or structure. Sometimes negative comments about the product are based on obsolete information about this product which has changed dramatically over the past 12 years


Invest time in creation of content, which is the value that YOU add


BECOME A VALUED MEMBER OF THE CORPORATE TEAM: when improving documentation via XML can align you with marketing and strategic revenue goals




Determining the ROI of moving to structured contentUseful links to on-line CALCULATOR for DITA/XML in FrameMakerThe beginning of what you need to sell to management on move to XML


FrameMaker is a COMPLETE TOOLKIT (overview of built-in tools for conversion, etc.Benefits of Extendscript … no compile necessary; better than plug-in


You don’t have to operate in a vacuum


What is Adobe XML Author?


DEMO:How to do hybrid publishing … continue some publishing in unstructured FM while making transition to XML via FRAMEMAKEREXAMPLE of a book that contains XML/DITA chapters and unstructured end-matter


examine document after it is converted to DITA/XML from unstructured FM3 ways to view XML in FMWithin FrameMaker, can publish continuously, either in unstructure, or XML during the transition …


Overview of steps to convert unstructured document to XMLView an auto-generated conversion table[can request sample files/docs from Aldous]


DISCUSSION: many customer choose to economically outsource the initial conversion … then have the consultant show you “how they did it” so you can continue converting further legacy content


Look at conversion table that Aldous used to convert unstructured file to “structured” *.fm file that is still a FrameMaker file, not XML yet.


Overview of structuring an unstructured file … then take structured binary *.fm file and SAVE it as XML (this only needs to be done once. This process can be done to an entire book, or contents of a folder.


Viewing the pure XML file derived from the initial “one-time” conversion


Using XSLT to transform XML file to have an “in-line” table of contents at beginning of XML file


Adding some additional concepts to have more entries in the TOC after the XSLT transformation is run. NOTE: this demo starts with transform being done manually.


ALDOUS prefers modifying structured application / EDD so that XSLT transforms will be run whenever XML file is opened or saved. No more manual transforms required!file being viewed


Correct the EDD … then use “Revert to Saved” on XML file to see it re-open with an automatic transformation. DEMO shows that every time file is edited, then saved or opened, it will ALWAYS have an automatic in-line TOC.


OBSERVATION: all the cool features you have learned to use in REGULAR / UNSTRUCTURED FrameMaker are available to use as tools for structured templates and achieving sophisticated formatting.


DITA 1.2 COMPLIANCE: DEMO of opening up DITA OPEN SOURCE TOOLKIT … XML is seamless due to FrameMaker’s total compliance with DITA …


DEMO: starting with WORD document that needs to come into DITA in FrameMaker … use of “SMART PASTE” … which automatically converts unstructured WORD content from CLIPBOARD into seamless, validated DITA. – example of copy/smart paste from HTML web page into DITA structure view … even the graphics are converted to externally referenced graphics


DEMO of HOW TO MODIFY STYLE SHEET so that SMART PASTE works with XML other than DITA as configured in FRAMEMAKER …


FrameMaker can easily support custom structure. FrameMaker is an easy transition from ARBORTEXT …


Review of how UNSTRUCTURED FRAMEMAKER allows you to cut up huge projects into chunks via book/chapter model …


DEMO of publishing to RESPONSIVE HTML5 … very practical to publish to PDF/paper as well as to responsive HTML5, which resizes for desktop, tablets and smart phones


ALDOUS ADVICE TO HIS CLIENTS: “Dream about what you think is impossible, and we will help you find a way to do it via FrameMaker … and do it yourself”


WHAT IS ADOBE FRAMEMAKER XML AUTHOR? (Dustin Vaughn)Templates from FULL FrameMaker XML will work with FrameMaker XML Author


QUESTION AND ANSWERS and OBSERVATIONSVideo from other Adobe product can be embedded in DITA files


Overview of THE CONTENT ERA’s services


Contact for Dustin Vaughn and Ashish Cherian for Sales Qs about FrameMaker


ALDOUS: with FrameMaker, the ease and success of your solution involves having a team member who understands your essential content creation goals. Discover how to make enhancements to structured applications w/in FrameMaker. You only need 1 or 2 content experts, and the rest of the team simply need to be good content creators.

This post is part of a 3-part series “Aldous XML 3×: Author, edit and publish in the Content Era that we live in”. Please find the blog posts about the other three parts here: