At 09:16 -0400 20/6/07, Nina Rogers wrote:

>...and am waiting with bated breath for Publishing Fundamentals: FrameMaker 7 
>to arrive at my doorstep in hopes that it will provide the key to the FM 
>universe.

It will.

>Are there any other good resources that I should be using? I have been a
>tech writer for 10+ years and am very familiar with the word-processing
>environment (Word), but not with FrameMaker.

You might like to consider some of the self-training material that Scriptorium 
produce that references the book you mention above. Which module(s) you choose 
will depend on the direction in which you want to develop your FrameMaker 
expertise: informed user, template designer, EDD developer, guru and so on.

As mentioned, the Adobe site offers quite a bit of material too.

>I need guidance on how to start a document from scratch - do I decide the 
>format up front and focus primarily on figuring out master and reference pages?

Up to you: most things in FrameMaker are hackable after the fact if you want to 
work interactively when designing documents. I'm not sure whether there is a 
'proper' way to go about it. One thing you should try to avoid is a 
combinatorial explosion of paragraph tags, though, so it pays to spend some 
time thinking about your document design first.

One problem when first starting out is that because you don't have a full grasp 
of all the things that FrameMaker can do, you may not know the features you can 
use to make a design 'good'. Experience is everything here, but a book such as 
Sarah O'Keefe's is an excellent reference, especially if you first skim it on a 
fact-gathering read.

> The whole concept of master and reference pages is quite new to me, though 
> I'm slowly starting to "get it."

Don't get too hung up on reference pages: these are a bit of a rag-bag of 
'where can we put this' features, and can therefore be confusing at first. 
Concentrate on what you can do with master pages, as these are fundamental to 
FrameMaker's philosophy and operation.

> I've gained some understanding, but if my boss were to walk into my office 
> and tell me to produce a formatted document/user guide on some small software 
> utility, I'm not sure I would know where to start, layout-wise.

Start with a ruler and measure the paper ;-) Create a new document of the 
required size and single/double sides as required, and FrameMaker will set up 
the master pages for you. Then start thinking about your text devices: 
headings, fonts, spacing, justification and so on. Get to grips with the 
paragraph designer. Keep a mental picture of what you want the end result to 
look like, and mess with FrameMaker's features until you get it the way you 
want. Ask questions here when things don't make sense: we were all novices once.

[I'm assuming here that you're not starting from scratch with structure. If you 
were, the steps would be different, such as starting with a very long holiday 
in Hawaii ;-)]

>I'm sure this topic has been covered here before, so if someone can give
>me a link to one or more threads in the archives, I'd appreciate it.

Can't do that, but I have some articles I can send you if you like.

-- 
Steve

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