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Adobe FrameMaker 11: My Wish List

by Barb Binder
Updated: Nov 12, 2022

NOTE: I just ran across this post from 10 years ago and I’m really happy to report that a number of these wishes have been incorporated in the current versions of Adobe FrameMaker. I’m adding checkmarks ✅ in front of the features that have been added or changed since I posted this in 2012. However I am still hoping that the rest of the list will eventually be included. 

Adobe FrameMaker, we have been BFFs for a long time. You have provided a steady source of training income over the past 20 years (remember when I used to teach 5-day FrameMaker classes three weeks out of every four, for months on end?). And you are still my one and only for laying out my longest, most technical documents.

As the years go by, we have lots of chances to improve ourselves. I know I’m working on my personal and professional growth, but I’m just not sure you are as focused on yours. Here is a list of just a few things I wish you would consider adding to your repertoire:

  1. Nested formats. I really want to embed character formats within my paragraph formats, beyond in Numbering properties.
  2. ✅ GREP Find & Change. Pattern-based find and change would be life-changing for cleaning up documents.
  3. GREP Styles. Pattern-based character formatting would be even better.
  4. Save Find & Change Queries. Without GREP, clean-up is still very manual. If I’m going to have to run the same series of Find & Change sequences again and again, I’d like to be able to save them.
  5. ✅ Footnotes. Please allow them to break across pages, and never ever put the footnote text on the page after its reference number.
  6. Letterspacing: Can we make tracking/kerning a little easier to do on a manual basis?
  7. ✅ Full Screen Mode: How about an intuitive way to get out of Full Screen mode when you inadvertently activate it from the Screen Mode button in the Application Bar? May I suggest the letter f, like in Photoshop? (Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think Esc S M t is intuitive.)
  8. Fonts. How about a reliable way to remove undesirable fonts? I know you think you are doing it, but they still linger in the document. While they might be gone from the Fonts panel, they still bring up the Unavailable Fonts message.
  9. Scaling. Can’t we please have Scale in the context menu when we have a frame selected?
  10. ✅ Frame formats. I would love to see a Frame Designer and Frame Catalog.
  11. ✅ Updated Templates. I do believe that the templates that ship with FrameMaker are valuable teaching tools. You can pick them apart to see how to accomplish an advanced task but really, they look like they were designed in 1988. (Oh, right. They were.)

Now FrameMaker, it’s not lost on me that many of these features are already part of Adobe InDesign. However, you two don’t appeal to the same market and very few people own both products. InDesign is used primarily by the creative folks, and the FrameMaker users are almost exclusively technical writers. These writers deserve some new features on the unstructured side to make their lives easier. Please just think about it.

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5 thoughts on “Adobe FrameMaker 11: My Wish List

  1. I also would like to see:

    1. A “Convert” routine from “Structured”-documents like dita and s1000d. A routine that strips away the XML mess and set paragraph tags instead. So it will be very easy to convert s1000d modules to FrameMaker modules so it will be possible to do “Cheap” proper pdf files.

    2. Have Page-breakes as paragrap tags. So I can turn of those Page-breakes and make a countinues printing layouts.

    3. In the paragraph tag: Create so if you selects a paragraph then when you want to select the next one you can only select one that is allowed, like the controlling in XML schemas. By this you can create modules in FrameMaker with proper layouts and user friendly information and then with a converting routing convert to s1000d.

    – Note, the s1000d is in no way efficient, instead of creating a cost efficient solution they have created a extremly costy system that requires alot of resources to operate. And worst of all, it is just a propitary storage system. Every new upgrade of S1000d versions make it incompatible with the old one. So the speak of reuse is not true with s1000d if you want to keep it cost efficient.

    4. That each .fm file is just a peice of information. I would like to see FrameMaker be able to have many .fm files (think of them as modules) in a book. Today you can not have a running h/f over many .fm files. For example if you have a main heading on one .fm file it will not be show on the next .fm file in it’s running h/f.

    5. Flexible layouts, like the one in Indesign CS6. In Indesign CS6 you can very easy change from one layout to another in seconds. Make the same in FrameMaker.

    6. Intelligent linking. If a link is missing, have a Link-server who can tell where things have moved. It should be a local link server that keep track of local linked files and the local server also knows about other link servers that it can ask where things are.

    7. Managed projects. Create a project file that handles complex documentation project with different file types. Like s1000d does. Well, s1000d have its problems too because of its bad internal structure.

    8. True PDF import/handling with a smart “Grep” so FrameMaker can apply paragraph to the text it find automatically.

    9. Business rules. So you can manage rules that you and your customers and business partners set up.

    10. Conditions. A smart conditions system that knows what “version” of the documentation it handles. If I open a .fm file/module, I can choose to see only images or text for that version.

  2. How about a way to designate a “header row” in tables. One would think this would be available in the Table Designer. C’mon Adobe, Word does it! Are you going to let Word show you up in this? 😉

  3. I make tables to contain my figures (so the captions stick with the pics), but I have to create the caption myself, with a “figtitle” paragraph type. Tables have automatic titles, above or below. I’d like to see that for figures as well.