JoAnn Hackos, Comtech Services, Inc.

I am impressed by the growth of FrameMaker capabilities for structured, DITA-based authoring, especially with the release of FrameMaker 11 and the FrameMaker Publishing Server 11. The product growth improvements supports Adobe’s analysis of the needs of the technical communication industry. Structured authoring has continued to rapidly gain acceptance, primarily through adoption of the DITA standard. Organizations are increasingly embracing mobile publishing of content, the enhancement of otherwise static content with multiple media, and the crucial need to develop a more collaborative working environment.

Adobe FrameMaker 11 continues to add support for the DITA standard, particularly the enhancements made in the DITA 1.2 release, including the important indirect referencing mechanisms of keyref and conkeyref. These mechanisms make managing variations required in master topics simpler, reducing the need for layers of conditional publishing.

The complexity of preparing final publications for output, an issue in previous FrameMaker versions, has been significantly simplified by the addition of a single settings file (INI). Through the settings file, publishers can establish their output configuration in one place and apply it to every map that is published. They can even specify which style sheet to apply to a particular document.

I think FrameMaker 11 moves the product clearly into the XML authoring space. Writers can work directly in an XML view, with automatic validation against the DTD. I find that professional technical communicators often prefer to know exactly what is happening to their XML code to ensure that the structure is correctly represented. Certainly, authors can continue to use the view that hides the XML elements, especially the casual authors who are increasingly contributing content. Adobe has also made adding valid DITA elements easier. A Smart Paste function ensures that imported tables become valid DITA tables.