It's not clear from your message whether the problem is that the 
formatting is not correct or that FM does not report errors in a structure 
that should be invalid.
   Remember that the logic of format rules is independent of whether the 
document is valid. The context specifications test the actual hierarchy of 
   Faced with a problem such as yours, the first things I would do are:

1) Import element definitions from my copy of the EDD (or my template), 
removing overrides, to make sure that the document sent by the user really 
does use the latest EDD.

2) Simplify the structure as much as possible so that it still exhibits the 

3) Simplify the EDD as much as possible so that it still exhibits the problem.

4) There are situations in which FM does not reformat something that it 
should. To verify that all formatting really does come from the intended 
rules, try applying a completely different paragraph format to the entire 
document, and then import element definitions removing overrides. 
Alternatively, build up the same structure in a new document.

   Another technique in understanding formatting is to debug from the top 
down. Remove inner elements and see what formatting is applied to the 
containing elements. This is especially useful  when several elements begin 
in the same FrameMaker paragraph (such as a chapter and the chapter title 
or a list and the first item in the list).

   Show Element Context tells you which format rules have fired. You say it 
hasn't been helpful. It won't help debug validation problems, but it should 
help debug formatting problems. In particular, you might look for 
unexpected interactions between first/last paragraph rules and the main 
text format rules.

   When reviewing the logic of an EDD with nested rules, collapse and 
expand the various If and ElseIf elements so you can inspect one level at a 
time. If you are using the EDD template that comes with FrameMaker, you 
might prefer the various formatting improvements in the EDD template 
available in the Tips and Free Tools section of my web site.

   If you'd like to send me your problem document off-list, along with a 
very explicit explanation of where you see a problem, I'd be happy to take 
a quick look to try to explain the results.


At 04:13 AM 7/5/2006, Steve Rickaby wrote:
>Without going into what might or might not be the problem, although it is 
>entirely possible to create the required element structures using the EDD, 
>the end users complain that 'strange things happen' with the problem 
>element, and have proved it by sending me a crazy document fragment that 
>is conceptually completely invalid, but which validates against the EDD.
>All my formatting is done using paragraph formatting rules. I have messed 
>with Show Element Context, but have not found it very useful and have not 
>yet discovered what the main problem is. I just wondered whether any of 
>you could point me in the direction of links, or techniques, for tackling 
>this sort of situation? (I am still on Mac at the moment, so PC-specific 
>plug-ins aren't available to me.)

Lynne A. Price
Text Structure Consulting, Inc.
Specializing in structured FrameMaker consulting, application development, 
and training
lprice at  
voice/fax: (510) 583-1505      cell phone: (510) 421-2284 

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