Best practice for reimporting Frame docs?

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Best practice for reimporting Frame docs?

Postby Rhea on Wed Jun 27, 2007 2:30 pm

Does anyone have a best practice for reimporting Frame files? I seem to end up re-doing the CSS whenever I reimport, and I'm not sure why. Does anyone have an idea why this is happening or how to prevent it?
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Re: Best practice for reimporting Frame docs?

Postby SPearsall on Tue Apr 15, 2008 12:46 pm

This is exactly what I am looking for in this forum, and I am terribly disappointed that no one responded to you. I am struggling with the same stylesheet issue. It's extremely annoying.
Other posts to this forum that dared to broach the subject of authoring in FrameMaker and periodically reimporting the content to get the updates were shot down with rather superior-sounding posts from heavy-duty Flare users who made the inquirer feel ashamed for trying to use Flare as a single-sourcing tool in such a manner.
I would much prefer to hear some advice on the subject of reimports instead of being told NOT to reimport.
When our doc team purchased Flare, it was after receiving assurances from a consultant that you could author in FrameMaker and output online Help using Flare. She didn't mention the horrors of newly generated stylesheets and TOCs with each import.
I've only been using Flare for a week, but so far, I think it stinks. I don't like the authoring interface and want to use FrameMaker to write new content. I don't want to have to "approve" the import for every darn topic. I don't want to have to manually overwrite my style sheet in order to preserve my styles. Nor do I want to generate a PDF out of Flare. I want to generate a PDF out of FrameMaker, which is the way God intended PDFs to be generated from FrameMaker files.
How do I get MCF to preserve my custom table styles with each reimport operation?
Did my team and I make a poor purchasing decision?
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Re: Best practice for reimporting Frame docs?

Postby forfear on Wed Apr 16, 2008 7:39 am

haha :)
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Re: Best practice for reimporting Frame docs?

Postby forfear on Wed Apr 16, 2008 7:41 am

SPearsall wrote:I want to generate a PDF out of FrameMaker, which is the way God intended PDFs to be generated from FrameMaker files.
How do I get MCF to preserve my custom table styles with each reimport operation?
Did my team and I make a poor purchasing decision?


haha...:)

You have done well to start structured authoring in ...FrameMaker. Its even better ground to be starting on instead of Word since FrameMaker is really the tool for professionals and large documentation projects...I'd use FrameMaker for PDF indeed. :) But for HTML Help and web help, i think Flare is ahead on these.

Anyway, IMHO, your team did NOT make a poor purchasing decision. Rather, I think you made a good decision collectively. You have done well...pat your team on the back.

I am not sure how long you've been working with FrameMaker, but you've started on good foundations. But I believe like all things new like Flare(which is a product with a fair bit of depth) they do need some getting accustomed to first, like a pair of shoes. You've done well to do what you've done ...in a week.
I've been a RoboHelp user for 4 years. That took me months to master as well.

Frankly it took me a month to tune myself, work things through, search the help, then do something else.

Learning to work with a list was one(important), the other thing was the stylesheet, followed by defining a simple table style. All these skills will actually take you back to 2 fundamental skills the Structure Bar, and the Stylesheet. Its not Microsoft Word, but once you tell yourself to not give up, you push ahead. Once you've made it, you find that there weren't really that many obstacles. All it takes is to repeat and practice. Just like it took to master FrameMaker earlier on. I am personally a very advanced Word user.

After that, I took a week to train my own team, to start them on really simple project basics like how to create a simple topic, how to format or select a style for a topic, and how to shuffle list items around. Once they were comfortable with that, we tried importing simple styled Word documents created in Word together, and testing the imported content in Flare. We tried a few different import settings, and chose one that would produce the cleanest output.
Once we understood what was going on, i brought in real live projects.
If you've done any importing between tools and systems, even WebWorks and FrameMaker, you'll find no single tool gets it faultlessly to spec without any tweaking and standardizing.

They had some misgivings, but i usually tried to stay one step ahead of the class, and once i figured it out, i'd share the solution with them.

Instead of jumping in to start running immediately, how about starting on simple basics, things that you know should be pretty easy, add topic, insert hyperlink, add image. then see if you can repeat it again....My tips....

post on the forums...we are a naughty bunch...:)
Last edited by forfear on Wed Apr 16, 2008 8:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Best practice for reimporting Frame docs?

Postby forfear on Wed Apr 16, 2008 8:18 am

If you submit your bug feedback request here, the more likely it'll get fixed or included in a future release
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Re: Best practice for reimporting Frame docs?

Postby ed_d on Thu Apr 17, 2008 5:11 am

I certainly sympathize. I've pretty much given up on reimporting, though it was the main reason I chose Flare in the first place.
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Re: Best practice for reimporting Frame docs?

Postby forfear on Sat Apr 19, 2008 5:50 am

Hi!

You'll be interested to have a look at this. Its written from a well qualified veteran frame user.
So I hope it does help to some degree.


http://madcapsoftware.wordpress.com/200 ... s-updated/
http://madcapsoftware.files.wordpress.com/2008/04/frametoblazebestpracticesdraft2.pdf
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Re: Best practice for reimporting Frame docs?

Postby SPearsall on Wed Apr 23, 2008 11:52 am

Thanks for the information and links. I'm glad you are having success. Yes, a learning curve always applies to any HAT. I spent a lot of time learning HTML Transit, HTML Help Workshop, RoboHelp, and WebWorks Publisher, too. They all have quirks.

As far as I can tell, though, the FM reimport feature is one that MadCap touts in their marketing literature but that has been very poorly implemented. For example, why does MCF change my TOC hierarchy around every time I reimport? I didn't add any new topics or move them around. Leave the formatting alone!

Here's one best practice that helps a little bit:

Instead of using the Import/Reimport wizard to get the new content you've written in FM (specifically, instead of clicking the Reimport button), just make sure to set the "Auto-reimport before 'Generate Output'" feature on the Options tab of the Import Editor. This method gets the new information but does not require you to approve the import and check all those infernal check boxes that ask whether you want to overwrite the previous content.
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