Myths vs. Reality about XML Authoring and FrameMaker

In session 2 of our 3-part series on FrameMaker with Tom Aldous, we hear this industry expert share his opinions about “Myth vs. Reality” regarding XML Authoring and FrameMaker’s XML capabilities. Due to the many years that FrameMaker has worked with structure (to a much more limited degree 5 years ago) there is a great deal of misinformation about this powerful product.

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Aldous Sess 2) FrameMaker and XML authoring: “Myths vs. Reality”

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Minute Markers to Key Points in Presentation


Audience question: why use FrameMaker instead of InDesign?


Is FrameMaker a proprietary solution, and doing XML in FrameMaker, are you using a binary *.fm document with structure?


DEMO of differences between unstructured FrameMaker document and structured or XML. Aldous discusses FrameMaker advantages of embedding video and easy publish output to ePUB formats without creating style sheets.


Opening up DITA/XML content from DITA OpenToolkit … demonstrates that “pure” XML opens flawlessly in FrameMaker. DEMO of edits, etc.NOTE: NO CONVERSION necessary. XML files simply opens.


3 ways to view XML … quick exploration of AUTHOR VIEW (no page breaks) and XML CODE VIEW (new to FrameMaker 12) … view pure XML content sans any formatting


View REAL TIME XML ERROR VALIDATION by deliberate error in XML CODE VIEW – view same XML file outside of FrameMaker in an ASCII EDITOR Notepad++ … notice that XML content edited in FrameMaker is immediately reflected in external XML editor.


ALDOUS discusses advantages of 3 views of XML within FrameMaker


Discussion of older versions of FrameMaker which DID have limitations working with XML or SGML … in previous versions there USED TO BE some proprietary codes visible in XML code … this no longer occurs, but some former users are not aware of this. DEMO of how clean the XML code is in FrameMaker today


DEMO: opening up DITAmap … XML opens fine within FrameMaker


Comparing XML in external editor vs. the XML CODE VIEW in FrameMaker.


Aldous comments why and when you would wish to customize XML with comments


Jang Graat (guest) comments on cases when “clean” XML can have legitimate COMMENTS or processing instructions.


XSLT (Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations) discusson – DEMO for using conditions to generate an embedded TOC (Table of Contents) – brief look at an XSLT stylesheet


Answer Q about “what is DITA” … various – ALDOUS: discusses ConRef attribute for CONTENT REUSE – FrameMaker checks that elements are valid against DITA standard, or rules that you set up for DITA specialization. Discussion of benefits of “specialization” for certain circumstances.


Aldous discussion on HOW FRAMEMAKER ENRICHES DITA, e.g. dropping in U3D and video to publish intelligent graphics that can be manipulated in published PDF output


Jang Graat comments that there are about 300 DITA “standards” in the world right now. You have the ability to alter the semantics to enrich DITA without breaking the standard.


Discuss why The Content Era wants their consulting to be BRIEF, and allow you to customize and further develop your XML solution on your own.FrameMaker enables you to do this:1. You can hide the complexity of XML if you want 2. You can use traditional FrameMaker page layout tools in the structured template.


Discussion of how users can master the EDD (Element Definition Document) with relative ease in order to further customize their solution …


Questions and Answers involving migration from regular/unstructured FrameMaker to structured XML via FrameMaker. Benefits of being able to continue working with existing paragraph styles married to Elements.


QUESTION: why would I choose FrameMaker for an XML workflow?ANSWER: Aldous discusses various case study scenarios where he has worked in various industries. Why it is key to understand importance of moving information through the organization. Some clients get sidetracked by XML code, and forget to keep a vision of the workflow and the information flow.


FRAMEMAKER ADVANTAGE of a TRANSITIONAL MIGRATION and WORKFLOW. Only FrameMaker makes it possible to publish XML and unstructured FrameMaker documents together in one project.


FrameMaker gives consultants like Aldous the ability to teach you how to fish, rather than be dependent on the consultant over a long period of time.


DEMO of how you can use traditional FrameMaker formatting tools (e.g. page layout) to experiment and achieve the look n’ feel that you want added to your structured template.


DEMO of ease-of-use publishing FrameMaker XML out to ePUB and HTML5 responsive


COMMENT FROM CHAT: “For what it’s worth: Last year we moved a client’s data out of Excel and into a database. Then we exported XML from the database, processed the XML with custom scripts, and imported into unstructured FM. Short version: 600 pages of tables were generated in FM in less than one minute. The job previously had taken weeks.”


DOES FRAMEMAKER WORK WITH DITA RIGHT OUT-OF-THE BOX?Demo how how you need to specify the XML Structured user interface when you first load the software.


DEMO of “smart paste” to bring copied, unstructured content from web page, unstructured FrameMaker or Word into “structure view” of a DITA/XML document – DEMO of where h2d.xsl XSLT style sheet is … discussion of how if you know XSLT code, you can customize this style sheet to achieve custom results.


How to achieve FLAWLESS MIGRATION FROM ARBORTEXT TO XML IN FRAMEMAKER – FrameMaker has awesome built-in ability to capture unstructured data from multiple sources and bring it into XML within FrameMaker.


QUESTION: “I was told that FrameMaker won’t work with a competitive authoring solutions CMS” … FrameMaker and CMS (Content Management Solution)ANSWER: FrameMaker has API to address any CMS. Also, if CMS has a web portal that is WebDav enabled, FrameMaker will work beautifully for that … because Adobe TechComm is such a huge player in our space, the majority of CMS vendors WANT to integrate with FrameMaker and keep pace with each new version.See also the constantly growing list of CMS integrations here: Integration with Leading Content Management Systems.


Jang discusses FrameMaker’s developer kit for connecting to CMS. Jang’s description of process for creating your own CMS if you are on a budget …


ALDOUS expresses respect for Adobe being honest about product information, and truthful info about competition …


ALDOUS discusses his experience with clients using FrameMaker integrated with Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) … it is used to bring XML content in from other XML authoring solutions that were popular a decade ago … DISCUSS how FrameMaker has continued to evolve due to terrific feedback from an active, diverse user base.


Discuss the FUTURE of FrameMaker and it’s importance to Adobe … WHY FRAMEMAKER IS NOT GOING AWAY … the integration between FrameMaker and ADOBE EXPERIENCE MANAGER is such a powerful, competitive solution, it is one of the many reasons that Adobe would never drop FrameMaker as a strategic product.


QUESTION: is it possible to show/hide content within XML in FrameMaker, similar to the way that CONDITIONAL TEXT CONTROL is used in REGULAR FrameMaker …ANSWER: Yes, it is. See also the section in the FrameMaker 2015 Online Help (“Filter by attribute”) and this Video on Adobe TV (for the older version FrameMaker 11).


Sharing resources and special offer


SPECIAL, LIMITED TIME OFFER for price reduction on people willing to switch from competitive product to FrameMaker … this offer ends May 22nd. Send email to for further details.


List of useful RESOURCES with hyperlinks to recorded webinars, pre-recorded demos, etc.

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: