Lining up a Table Across Columns

This question comes up from time-to-time on the FrameMaker lists, so I will illustrate the problem and solution with four screenshots. You have a single table anchored in a paragraph in the left column. As the table flows from column-to-column, the top of the table in the first column does not line up with the top of the table in the rest of the columns.

To remedy this, you need to change settings in two dialog boxes. First, click in the anchor paragraph and bring up the Paragraph Designer. Change the Line Spacing to 0 points and the Space below to -2 points and click Update All. Go to the Default Font area of the Paragraph Designer, set the Font Size to 2 points, and click Update All (not shown in the screenshot). You won’t see a change until you do the next step.

Click in the table and open the Table Designer. Change the Space Above to -2 points and click Update All.

The table tops in all of the columns will now line up with each other.

Setting Acrobat Bookmarks for a Book

When you save a FrameMaker book to PDF, you are presented with the PDF Setup dialog box, where you can set which paragraphs (or elements) you want to appear as bookmarks in the PDF. Often, you will set the Include formats and levels just how you want them, but when you make the PDF, one or more paragraphs will be included that you didn’t specify. In fact, these paragraphs won’t show up in the Include/Don’t Include lists in the PDF Setup dialog box. Scott Prentice, in a recent post, gives the reason behind this:

In my testing, I believe that the key factors are that the first file in the book needs to have definitions for all of the para styles in the book, and you have to set the include/exclude values on that file. If it’s a binary file, these settings would be made there … if it’s structured, you’d need to make those settings in the template that’s applied to that component. Continue reading “Setting Acrobat Bookmarks for a Book”

Fun with Acrobat Forms

I have created a great workflow for developing Acrobat forms, using FrameMaker, FrameScript, and TimeSavers from MicroType ( Using this workflow makes it practical to use FrameMaker to develop PDF forms. FrameMaker’s graphic and table features can be used to layout great looking forms, while TimeSavers eliminates nearly all of the required Acrobat post-processing. A set of FrameScript scripts streamlines the insertion of the TimeSavers markers in the FrameMaker documents.

If you have a need for Acrobat forms, or are interested in the process, please let me know. I will be glad to provide a demonstration of the process. Also, I am soliciting a few more forms to do for free that I can use for demonstration purposes. If you have a forms that you would like converted to Acrobat forms, please let me know. In the meantime, take a look at some of the forms I have developed using FrameMaker, FrameScript, and TimeSavers:


Renaming DITA Map Topics

I have a client using MIF2Go to generate DITA from unstructured FrameMaker documents. They are very happy with the entire process with one exception: They want an easy way to rename the href values in the DITA map, and the corresponding topics on disk. I have proposed a set of FrameScript scripts that will automate the process. The script proposes new topic names, based on the topicref’s navtitle value. You can have the script automatically use the new names, or you can use a “semi-automatic mode” where the old names and proposed new names are written to and Excel file. Then you can use Excel to fine-tune the new names. A second script quickly applies the spreadsheet names to the DITA map and corresponding topic files.

You can take a look at the documentation here. The cost for the set of scripts is $95 US. To purchase the scripts, please contact


Move Markers to the Beginning of Words

Maxwell Hoffman recently posted “Top 10 mistakes FM Uses make in content before translation” on his blog ( One of the mistakes is having markers within words instead of at the beginning of words. I decided that this could be solved quickly and easily with a FrameScript script. You can download the free script at It will process all of the markers in the active document or book, allowing you to solve the problem in seconds. Instructions are in the included ReadMe.text file. If you need to purchase FrameScript licenses, please contact me for discount prices. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.


FrameSLT: A Great FrameMaker Plugin

There are many useful FrameMaker plugins out there, but one of my favorites is FrameSLT by West Street Consulting, operated by Russ Ward. I was reminded of how powerful it is when I recently helped a client add structure to a large number of unstructured documents. One issue was a very specific sequence of elements where text nodes needed to be wrapped in <cmdname> elements. In the screenshot below, I have the text nodes indicated by red rectangles. The yellow highlighting indicates the specific context where the text nodes needed to be located.

Continue reading “FrameSLT: A Great FrameMaker Plugin”

Managing Imported Images Solution

I have developed a FrameScript solution for one of the “bottlenecks” submitted to me a couple of weeks ago. A common problem is imported graphics reported as missing when files and folders are moved or renamed. The FrameMaker user actually wanted the ability to rename screenshots and quickly update the references to them without reimporting them. But this solution would normally be used to quickly “repoint” images to new folder paths.

The result is a set of FrameScript scripts called ManageImagePaths. Here is how the solution works:

Continue reading “Managing Imported Images Solution”

Include/Don’t Include Lists

Here is a FrameMaker tip that doesn’t require any plugins or scripts. When you are working in a FrameMaker dialog box with Include/Don’t Include list boxes, you can quickly move all of the items from one list to another by holding down the Shift key and pressing the left or right arrow key (highlighted in yellow in the screenshot). To quickly move a single item in the list, you can double-click on it.

Unexpected Absolute Path

File this one under the “learn something new every day” category. This question was posted on one of the Framers lists today:

Our documents have the potential of being generic to be used in multiple manuals. To achieve that, our safety icons are in a common location. The FM files and associated graphics should always be together. When we move the folders to another manual, everything should remain relative. With FM8, writers go to our server and open a file, if the graphics are not positioned correctly, the writer updates the location and FM8 changes the location to absolute. Subsequent files that are opened and saved change the graphic path to absolute and do not ask for the path change. Is there any way to shut this off so that if a file is opened and the relative path is incorrect, that it asks for the path update? The only other way of verifying the path is to do a LOR.

I spoke to the author of the post to make sure that both his FrameMaker file and image were on the same drive; he assured me that they were, so I couldn’t see any reason why the link shouldn’t be relative instead of absolute.

Continue reading “Unexpected Absolute Path”

A Call for Tips and Tricks

FrameMaker automation is not all about FrameScript and plugins. Sometimes a tip or shortcut can increase productivity, and even small increases add up over time. If you have a FrameMaker tip or trick that you would like to share, please let me know. If I publish one of yours I will give you a free Carmen Publishing Inc. plugin of your choice.