Adobe annnounced a major update to its Technical Communcaiton suite on January 31. The suite, which is available now, is a collection of tools including FrameMaker, RoboHelp, Captivate, Presenter, and Acrobat. Here's a brief overview of the tools that make up the suite:
Adobe FrameMaker 2017
Author and publish multilingual technical content across mobile, web, desktop, and print with FrameMaker. Easily work with unstructured and structured content in the same documentation. Work faster and smarter with advanced XML/DITA capabilities. Explore FrameMaker’s endless possibilities faster with reorganized and more logial menus and the new Command Search. Publish content as Responsive HTML5, Mobile App, PDF, EPUB, and more. And all this in the brand new high-dpi screen compatible interface.
Adobe RoboHelp 2017
Create and deliver policy and knowledge base content for any device. Publish next-generation Responsive HTML5 layouts. Help users find relevant content faster with best-in-class search, including search auto-complete. Dynamically filter content for personalized Help experiences. Generate content-centric mobile apps.
Adobe Captivate 9
Captivate helps you create attractive and instructionally sound eLearning. Go from storyboarding to Responsive eLearning using a single tool. Dip into the exclusive asset store to enrich your content. Create amazing courses that run seamlessly across desktops and mobile devices.
Adobe Acrobat Pro DC 2015
Acrobat changes the way you work with important business documents. Create, edit, and sign PDFs anywhere with the new Acrobat DC mobile app. Protect important documents. Send, track, and confirm delivery of documents electronically.
Adobe Presenter 11
Presenter transforms your PowerPoint slides into interactive eLearning with stunning assets and quizzes. Leverage HTML5 publishing to deliver courses to desktops and tablets. Track learner performance with the integration of leading LMSs.
Adobe FrameMaker 12 supports GREP Find/Change (General Regular Expression Print), but I tend to forget about it because it's not prominently featured in the Find/Change dialog box.
One of my major headaches in a FrameMaker layout job is updating hyphens to en dashes between ranges of numbers, as outlined in my article on GREP in Adobe InDesign. Without the aid of GREP, I run 10 replacements, 1- to 1-. 2- to 2-, etc. It's tedious, but if I wait until I have all the files in the book, I can do it once and be done with it.
Until today. Thanks to a series of misfortunate events which made me sit back and think, "Isn't there a better way?", the lightbulb finally illuminated. A little voice piped up and said, "Barb! Copy the string from the InDesign blog post and paste it into FrameMaker!" And with one minor change, it worked perfectly.
Here's the setup in FrameMaker:
For your copy and pasting pleasure:
Find Text: (?x)\b(\d+)-(\d+)\b Change to Text: $1-$2
Don't forget to change from a Simple Search to Regular Expressions and, once you test the string, remember you can update the entire book. (Always test before you click Change All!)
This simple GREP query will find all digits separated with a single hyphen and change those hyphens to en dashes. Now, if we could just get Adobe to add the widgets that make figuring this out easier and the ability to save these strings for future reference!
Unless you've been deliberately avoiding them, it's a good bet you've come across images similar to the one below.
The image is known as a QR code. As you can see, QR codes are images that are made up of black and white squares. They are typically used for storing URLs or other information and can be scanned by QR Readers. In fact, if you have a smart phone, it may already have a QR Scanner. If so, scan the image above with the QR Reader and you'll be taken to the IconLogic website.
There's plenty of software you can find on the Internet that will allow you to create your own QR codes (some are free; some will cost you a few bucks). However, if you own Adobe FrameMaker 12, you have that ability to create QR Codes right now.
Open or create a FrameMaker document and click where you want the QR code.
Choose Special > Generate QR Code to open the QR Code Builder.
In the File Name field, give the QR code a name (it will be saved as a PNG image) and specify a storage location.
From the Type drop-down menu, select the type of QR Code you'd like to create (you can select from SMS, URL, Phone, Email, and Text).
In the image below, I selected URL from the Type drop-down menu and then typed the IconLogic website URL.
The final step is to set the size of the URL from the Size drop-down menu. (You can select a size from the Image Dimensions drop-down menu or type your own value into the Image Dimensions field.)
Click the Insert button to insert the QR Code into the FrameMaker document.
And that's that. If you only wanted to use the QR Code in your FrameMaker document, you're done. However, if you want to use the QR Code in a different program, or include it in a newsletter like I did above, you'll find the QR Code image file in the folder you specified when you named the image (see step 3 above).
Looking for instructor-led training on Adobe FrameMaker? Check out our live, online, instructor-led FrameMaker classes.
Adobe's new FrameMaker 12 allows you to quickly generate Responsive HTML5 and ePubs. If these features sound familiar, they should... you'll find both in Adobe RoboHelp 11. Now that FrameMaker has these output options,you can take content that was traditionally confined to print or PDF, and deliver it to users over the web.
Your customers can use Responsive HTML5 or ePub content via desktop computers, mobile devices... just about anything. And you don't have to take the variety of screen sizes users might use into account. If the user is viewing your content on a desktop, they will automatically see an appropriate arrangement of the screen components; if they view your content on an iPhone or Android phone, they will see the components resized and rearranged in a layout to best suit the smaller display size.
Generate Responsive HTML5
Create or open a single FrameMaker document or a book file.
Choose File > Publish to open the Publish pod.
On the Publish pod, right-click Responsive HTML5 and choose Edit Settings to open the Publish Settings dialog box.
Click the Gallery button to open the New Screen Layout dialog box.
Select a Theme and click the OK button. (You will be presented with a series of options that allow you to quickly customize many components that make up the original design. What I really like about this area is that the Adobe engineers have labelled everything so you know what each area controls.)
When you're finished customizing the Theme, click theSave button to return to the Publish Settings dialog box.
Click the Save and Close button to close the Publish Settings dialog box.
To generate the layout, return to the Publish pod, right-click Responsive HTML5 and choose Generate.
In the first image below, you can see the chapter structure in my FrameMaker book file. In the second image, you can see how that structure appears in my web browser thanks to Responsive HTML5.
Generate an ePub
On the Publish pod, right-click ePub and choose Edit Settings.
On the Meta Information tab, fill in the information as necessary.
Click the Save and Close button.
To generate the Pub, return to the Publish pod, right-click ePub, and choose Generate.
In the image below, you can see how my FrameMaker book looks when viewed with an ePub reader (I'm using Adobe's free Digital Editions).
All in all, this is some pretty awesome stuff. Keep in mind that you will only need Adobe FrameMaker 12 to generate these layouts. I mentioned at the outset that Responsive HTML5 and ePub layouts were once the domain of Adobe RoboHelp. However, with FrameMaker 12, you don't need RoboHelp or any of the other tools that make up the Adobe Technical Communication Suite. Once you've created the FrameMaker content, you can output content for any audience, no matter the end-user device used to view your content.
There's no trick to creating a PDF these days. Simply open a document and, if you've got Adobe Acrobat on your computer, choose Adobe PDF when you print.
Creating a PDF that will engage your reader is another story. One way to engage the reader, besides stellar content, is to add images. Of course, there's no trick to adding images either... and everyone's doing it.
If you really want to make a splash when it comes to PDFs, you've got to engage the reader like never before... and interactive eLearning is the way to go.
In the image below, I've created a FrameMaker document. You can see there's nothing particularly special about the text (beyond the promise of an Adobe Captivate simulation).
After clicking where I wanted the simulation to appear, I chose File > Import > File and opened a SWF I had published earlier using Adobe Captivate. Just like when importing a graphic, I was met with the Imported Graphic Scaling dialog box. I selected 150 dpi to make the imported Captivate simulation a bit smaller in my FrameMaker document.
After clicking the Set button, the Captivate simulation appeared in my FrameMaker document as a large box.
I wanted the simulation positioned below the text, and I didn't want it to be cropped. I right-clicked the frame and selected Anchored Frame.
I changed the Anchoring Position to Below Current Line, changed the Alignment to Right, and removed the check mark from Cropped. Then I clicked Edit Frame.
And that was all there was to it. I created a PDF by choosing File > Save as PDF. Upon opening the PDF, the simulation appeared immediately after being clicked. And I was delighted to see that the simulation remained as interactive from within the PDF as it was when accessed via a web server.
Even better, when I found an error in the Captivate simulation, I was able to return to the FrameMaker document, right-click the imported SWF, and chose Edit With Adobe Captivate.
The source Captivate project opened pretty quickly in Adobe Captivate. I fixed the error and exited Captivate, at which point the project was republished and the SWF contained in FrameMaker automatically updated.
After re-saving as a PDF and opening the PDF with Adobe Reader, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Captivate simulation had been updated.
All existing customers of Adobe Technical Communication Suite, Adobe FrameMaker and Adobe RoboHelp are eligible to take advantage of a limited promotional offer from Adobe. You can purchase subscription licenses of Adobe Technical Communication Suite 5 at 40% off for an entire year.
While you still have plenty of time to order TCS5 and enjoy the 40% discount, Adobe has indicated that the offer ends sometime in July.
A recent FrameMaker student contacted me with a numbering dilemma:
I am working with a two-level list. The first level uses numbers and the second list uses letters. The numbers start out correctly, as do the letters; but when I go back to numbers, things get wacky. What is going on? Here's what my list looks like:
The obvious problem is that the numbers are increasing incorrectly, but why? The numbered list is picking up from where the lettered list left off. The letter "e" is the fifth letter of the alphabet. When FrameMaker sees the <n+> in the next paragraph, it adds one to the counter value and displays a 6.
The trick is to look at the numbers as columns. I'll sketch them out on paper. This one is fairly straightforward and just needs two columns of building blocks along with the series label. Here's how numbering properties should look for each of these paragraph formats:
Series Label. The series label tells FrameMaker that these two paragraph formats are part of the same numbering series. While I used S for a series of steps, any uppercase letter will work as a Series Label.
List 123. The <n+>. building block in the first column will add one to the current counter and display the result as a number followed by a period. The < =0> building block resets the second column counter back to 0 for each new sub-list, but the space says not to show the 0.
List abc. The < > holds the counter value in the first column (it won't increment), but the space says not to display the value. The <a+>. in the second column adds one to the current counter value (which was reset to 0 in the previous paragraph) and displays the result as a letter.