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Essential Resources for FrameMaker Users

by Keith Soltys

Note: This article was originally published on the Official TECHWR-L web site.

FrameMaker may be the current standard for technical publication, but that doesn't mean it's a perfect program. Many writers who've used FrameMaker find that it's complex and quirky, with a lot functionality hidden in its now somewhat dated interface. So where do you go when you need help? This article will give you some suggestions.

Support Forums

The natural place to start is Adobe's own Web site, which includes Web-based forums, tutorials, and a searchable knowledgebase. These are all available through the Adobe Online item in FrameMaker's File menu.

The User to User forums are free but require registration before you can use them. There are two for FrameMaker; one is for the plain vanilla version, and one is for FrameMaker + SGML. A quick scan of the FrameMaker forum showed more than 100 active message threads dating back about a month; the most popular thread (FrameMaker 7 wish list) had 94 messages. Older topics (more than 3000) are saved in an archive going back to January 2000. Although the forum is searchable, you should note that there are no advanced search options, but you can search for a phrase by enclosing it in quotes. (View a sample of message topics in the FrameMaker User to User forum.)

Tek-Tips Adobe FrameMaker forum is another Web-based forum. With just over 100 members, there isn't as much traffic here as on the Adobe forums, but it offers an alternative if your post on the Adobe site doesn't get a response.

Mailing Lists and Newsgroups

Mailing lists are a popular alternative to Web-based message boards:

If you have Usenet access, the comp.text.frame newsgroup is devoted solely to FrameMaker. While message traffic isn't very heavy, the group attracts some of the long-term, more technical FrameMaker users, especially those using FrameMaker on UNIX.


Adobe's selection of tutorials is rather limited and built around a series of PDF instructions and sample files; however there are other tutorials available:

FAQs and Other Resources

Users often turn to FAQ (Frequently Asked Question) lists for support. In the case of FrameMaker, there are several FAQ lists of varying quality.

The most comprehensive and current FrameMaker resource, outside of the Adobe site, is "FrameMaker/Acrobat Articles & Resources, Quick Reference Guides, & FAQs," hosted by MicroType, a company started by Acrobat guru Shlomo Perets. To access the page, click the Resources link on the MicroType home page. The FAQ consists of a combination of articles, both contributed by users and extracted from the Adobe knowledgebase, and grouped by topic. The FrameMaker Resources section contains many useful downloads; the keyboard shortcut lists, building block summaries, and articles on customization should be a part of every user's toolkit.

Although it's not a FAQ per se, the Adobe Support Knowledgebase provides a lengthy list of answers to questions, tips, and workarounds. When you open the page, you have the option of viewing the top issues for a product; selecting FrameMaker lists more than 50 knowledgebase topics grouped by platform. The knowledgebase itself is searchable by keyword or error code. Selecting FrameMaker without specifying a keyword reveals that there are (at the time of this writing) 664 items in the knowledgebase. The search function is not very sophisticated; you should consider using the MicroType FAQ first, as it's better organized and contains many articles from the knowledgebase.

FrameUsers has just made an HTML version of their Official FrameUsers Resource Guide available on their Web site; this contains information about FrameMaker contractors and consultants, plug-ins and tools, and case studies about using FrameMaker. The FrameUsers FrameMaker FAQ is now dated, last having been updated in 1999, but still contains useful material. Note that the FAQ is not accessible from the main FrameUsers page.

Additionally, The Idea Store publishes a useful list of tips and shortcuts. There are versions for users with low-bandwidth and high-bandwidth connections, both of which were developed using WebWorks Publisher.

Finally, InFrame Magazine is an online magazine devoted to FrameMaker and related topics, such as Acrobat and WebWorks Publisher. Although publication has been spotty, the magazine seems to be active again. The current issue (number 3, at the time of this writing) has feature articles, tips, and templates. You can also view or download the two back issues.

Using the resources provided in this article, you can make your way through the complexities of FrameMaker, and overcome the quirks you encounter, and find useful capabilities you may not have known existed.


© Copyright 2001 by Keith Soltys


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