Deirdre Reagan wrote:> Just to mix things up, the next question will appear in 
the form of a statement.
> There is very little difference between cross-references and variables.
> Discuss.

Disagree almost completely. IMO, about the only thing they have in 
common is that they are methods of inserting content into a 
FrameMaker document by reference.

Cross-references are used to retrieve some combination of attributes 
(e.g. page location, paragraph autonumbering) and content of a 
specific target paragraph. You can build cross-reference formats that
specify different attributes and include various bits of static text and
punctuation, and you can globally redefine these formats to repurpose 
the same files for use in different deliverables (e.g. including the page
number in printed or PDF outputs but omitting it in HTML deliverable).
Cross-references always point to a specific paragraph, which makes
them less useful ifd you are using some of the same component files
in multiple books. 

User variables, on the other hand, retrieve a fixed text string of up
to 255 characters. Period. No page number. No autonumbering. No
ability to build different variations of the content. Just a text string.
Eminently useful for things like product names or model numbers, 
and document titles and reference numbers. Variable definitions 
are stored locally in each file, but are easily updated across a book
by importing them as format properties from one file (e.g., a template),
which works well when you are sharing some chapters among multiple

Cross-references are automatically refreshed every time you open 
a file. This is overkill for relatively static content like document titles
and product names. 

Cross-references get turned into hyperlinks when you publish a 
document to PDF (and usually to HTML, as well). To me, this is 
worse than overkill if you use x-refs for book titles because I think 
it's a major annoyance to have each and every instance of the 
title be a live hyperlink that takes you to the title page of the book.
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