Owning Your Content:
Using the Power of FrameMaker to Get Back to Writing
Note: 30 June is an Introductory session. The first session will begin on 7 July. You can expect about three hours of work, each balanced roughly between course materials, projects, and live sessions. The live sessions are scheduled on Thursdays and Matt will also hold online “office hours” on Tuesdays, giving you a chance to drop into an online meeting to discuss the current week’s assignment.
You’re a writer and a communicator. So why spend up to half of your documentation time being a desktop publisher? Or a web designer?
What if you could rely on your numbering, your page breaks, and your cross-references?
What if you could publish whenever you want, to whatever format you needed?
Matt Sullivan has been guiding organizations large and small through the process of template-based workflows for over twenty years. He consistently provides a 30% or more reduction in time spent on documentation, while at the same time improving the consistency, branding, and organization of the content.
This six-week course will teach you rock-solid techniques for creating and managing your content that are guaranteed to make you a more productive, more focused content creator. Just look at the outline below to see how this results-oriented course is going to help you get your documents under control.
Weekly Session titles and descriptions (what will each week cover):
SESSION 1: WHY FRAMEMAKER MAKES YOUR JOB EASIER
FrameMaker keeps track of numbering, cross-referencing, complex tables, TOCs, IXs, and formatting. And absolutely nothing can publish to online formats and PDF like FrameMaker. In short, using the techniques you’ll learn in Week 1, you’ll see why tech comm experts have made FrameMaker an indispensable part of their workflow for over 20 years. We finish off the week with a complete demo of publishing FrameMaker content to mobile and Help formats.
- Understanding the FrameMaker workflow
- Setting up a FrameMaker workgroup
- Using templates in a template-based workflow
- DEMO: Publishing to mobile and help formats
After this lesson, expect your content goals to come into focus. You’ll see how FrameMaker’s organization and features make it a bulletproof way to manage your content.
SESSION 2: USING STYLES: LETTING FRAMEMAKER DO THE HEAVY LIFTING
Formatting on the fly is not a strategy. In this section you’ll learn why the fastest ways to change formatting will cost you the most in the long run. You’ll learn why up and down the development line style usage and consistency will make your editing and publishing a breeze, and why a solid template-based workflow can easily save you 30% or more of your documentation effort and resources.
- Using paragraph styles
- Using character styles
- Understanding object styles
- How styles help manage content, layout, and publishing
After this lesson, you’ll be able to write and properly format faster than ever before. More importantly, you’ll be laying the foundation for manageable editing and publishing as part of your template-based workflow.
SESSION 3: ROCK-SOLID WAYS TO CREATE TABLES AND CROSS-REFERENCES
Got a complex table that spans 30 pages or more? Bring it on! Need to pepper your user guide with cross-references to procedures including section numbering, titles and page numbers (but only in the PDF, not the online versions?!) FrameMaker makes all of this a breeze. In this section you’ll learn how tables and cross-references are two of the most solid and least to be feared things you can produce and manage in your documents. A deep understanding of these two concepts alone can make a world of difference in managing your content.
- Understanding proper use of tables
- Modifying table content
- Table odds and ends/more advanced concepts
- Referencing: Cross-References
- Basic Cross-References
- Template Design: Cross-References
After this lesson, you’ll be comfortable working with long, complex tables, and accurately inserting perfect cross-references to your content. You will virtually eliminate edits related to table breaks, table headings, and numbering/accuracy issues with your content.
SESSION 4: GRAB THEIR ATTENTION AND DON’T LET GO
Did you know that FrameMaker easily handles over 100 graphics and rich media formats? That’s important when your content is more likely than ever to be viewed on digital and mobile platforms. Scalable, interactive, and controllable content are easy to insert and publish as needed. Control your media with conditional text (Week 5) and you can manage which content publishes to each platform within a single document.
- Working with content: Using graphics and rich media
- To Frame or not to Frame
- Using anchored frames
- Placing and controlling rich media
Bonus: This week we’ll review the production process for my 700 page FrameMaker book, and how I managed the hundreds of graphics without losing sleep.
SESSION 5: QUIT REINVENTING THE WHEEL
Managing one instance of your information is hard enough…let alone managing versions for print, help, product variations, or options. In Week 5 you’ll learn to use the FrameMaker options that improve content reuse. You’ll create content in one location, and then reference it as needed. Along with a review of the cross-refererence content from Week 3, you’ll learn about:
- text insets
- conditional text
- built-in integration with Dropbox and leading content management systems
After this lesson, you can simplify your content strategies based on version number, configuration, and/or output target.
SESSION 6: BOOKS AND PUBLISHING
This is where it all comes together! The peak of FrameMaker’s tactical advantage in tech comm is project management and digital publishing. This week you’ll see how we collect all the content for a project into a book file, create chapter and book TOCs, mark entries for a generated index, and push the entire project out to PDF, Help, and just about any other format you can think of. You’ve already done the legwork to make this all come together, so look forward to seeing a cohesive final project, with easily updatable content and formatting.
Specifically, we’ll cover:
- Creating and managing book files
- Defining tables of contents
- Indexes and index markers
- Print, PDF, and Electronic Publishing, including more detail on the Help/EPUB/mobile publishing process
- Overview of PDF review cycle, commenting features in Reader
- Creating PDF for import, and automatically updating FrameMaker content from the PDF comments
After this session, you’ll have a full working knowledge of managing FrameMaker content and appreciate the merits of a template-based workflow.