Hello Maeli,

The move from MS Word to FrameMaker is good news, but why the choice for 
unstructured FM ? The type of document you are hoping to create would be 
ideally created in structured FrameMaker. Using huge numbers of variables in FM 
is going to make the author's life hell and is not going to make maintenance of 
the manuals much easier. Text insets in unstructured FrameMaker are extremely 
limited and may cause the system to break down as it needs to open 100s of 
files at the same time when updating the main document.

This kind of work is what structured FrameMaker is excellent for. Instead of 
text insets in the form of an entire flow in a FrameMaker file, you can reuse 
single words, table cells, paragraphs or anything else to be pulled in. With 
the attributes available in each element, you can easily link each item to an 
element in a database (or Excel sheet). In one of my projects, I am building 
service manuals that have 100s of parts lists, each containing up to 50 parts, 
each of which is pulled out of a single file that holds all the parts info. 
Updating this service manual is a matter of pressing one button and takes 5 
minutes. And with the built-in XSL engine in FrameMaker, attribute-based 
filtering and ExtendScript all in the box, i.e. without installing any third 
party procuct, there has to be a REALLY good reason not to use this product in 
the way it was intended.

If you HAVE to work with unstructured FrameMaker, possibly because of some 
outdated regulatory principles, there are still options to automate the work 
using ExtendScript, but it becomes much harder to program - and harder to check 
if the results are OK. If you need support in getting the info from MS Word to 
structured FrameMaker and/or automating the process of pulling info from a 
spreadsheet into a structured FM document, I can offer those services. The nice 
thing about using structured FM is that this can be programmed without even 
having any real content available, so confidentiality issues can easily be 
avoided here.

Kind regards from Amsterdam


JANG Communication
Smart Information Design
Amsterdam - Netherlands
Cell +31 6 4685 4996

> I'm getting back to unstructured FrameMaker 10 (after two years of having to 
> use MS Word). So apologies if I don't use some of the correct terms or if I'm 
> misunderstanding some of FrameMaker's capabilities!
> I'm doing the planning work for converting a technical manual from MS Word 
> into FrameMaker 10. The system has over 100 parts, currently each part has 
> two to five different variations on the name scattered throughout the manual, 
> so a huge component of this conversion is getting the nomenclature down to a 
> single version of each part name. Since most of the names will change at some 
> point in the next year my goal is a single point of edit for each part name, 
> to save some headaches down the road.
> On previous projects I've used ~20 part name variables (created in a master 
> file, then applied to each *.fm file through a book update) and then inserted 
> that part's variable any time I need to use the part name.  For this project 
> with 100+ parts it seems like that could start getting painful, just in terms 
> of scrolling through a massive variable list.
> I was thinking that I could use text insets as another option, if it were 
> possible to import from a single cell in a table (e.g. excel file). That 
> would let me use the spreadsheet that I'd have to create anyway for planning 
> out the variables (and internal tracking of what name I'm assigning to a 
> given part number).
> In the past I've used text insets to reference repeated short paragraphs, 
> using a series of individual text documents to hold each paragraph. So I 
> guess I could do the same thing again, but then I'd end up with 100+ text 
> files, which seems like a different kind of inconvenient compared to the 100+ 
> variables.
> One major limitation: with my organization's network policies I cannot 
> install 3rd party software, and the review and approval process to purchase 
> extensions or supplements to Adobe's software would be so arduous that it may 
> as well be impossible. So I'm limited to what I can do without having to 
> install anything else.
> Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated! (Or even advice on where I 
> could go to read up on the various ways to effectively manage nomenclature 
> updates in unstructured FrameMaker.)
> Thanks,
> Maeli Zacchetti


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