Hi Joel:

I have an incomplete answer, but I'd like to get the ball rolling. I'm
still using FrameMaker 7.2, so that's one of my knowledge limitations.
I'm counting on others to fill in the gaps.

(a) I wouldn't recommend using conditional text because you'd have seven
variations and possibly recombinations of those seven (e.g., something
applies to three of the seven, etc.). I know that FM 8 deals with
multiple conditions much better than FM 7x, but still, seven variants
could make your head hurt just as badly as XML.

(b) I use structured FM and I like it a lot, but it'll take a month or
two to learn, set up your own definition, and convert the manuals. I'm
not sure if you have the time to invest. One advantage to moving to
structured is that there is an awesome structured tool called InsetPlus
from West Street Consulting that will help you manage and use shared
text. Furthermore, you won't run into the problems I've heard about with
cross-references and indexing in unstructured text insets.

(c) I just read Jerilynne's answer, and it's true that you can do a lot
with the list she sent you. If you don't go to structured FM, I would
recommend text insets, or splitting up the files so that the common
sections can be shared through the book files. In both structured and
unstructured, I use variables to take care of the little differences.
And Jerilynne is also right that depending on the details, conditional
text may also be appropriate...my answer in (a) was based on one master
document and trying to generate seven variations on it.

Good luck!

Fei Min

-----Original Message-----
From: framers-boun...@lists.frameusers.com
[mailto:framers-bounces at lists.frameusers.com] On Behalf Of Joel
Sent: Wednesday, March 11, 2009 8:36 AM
To: framers at lists.frameusers.com
Subject: re-use 101

I am using Frame 8. I have a set of seven manuals that are close to 100
pages each. Many sections of these manuals are identical, some sections
differ in detail in minor ways, and fewer sections differ in more
substantial ways. Currently they are all Frame books with each chapter
being its own file within the book. There is no re-use of anything at
the moment.

This is becoming increasingly burdensome to maintain, as a change to
something that appears in all seven manuals requires me to make that
change manually in all seven files. I would like to get to re-use, or
single-sourcing, but I'm puzzled as to how to get there. Would the best
strategy be:

(a) To use conditional text and generate several versions;

(b) To try and convert everything to XML and sew things together based
on individual XML files;

(c) Something else?
I have zero XML knowledge, and whenever I read about it, my head hurts.
I am willing to learn, but the benefit needs to be commensurate with the
pain involved in learning. I'm looking for the simplest solution that
allows for some common source material using my existing Frame
configuration. Ideas are appreciated.
Joel
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