Adobe FrameMaker 11: My Wish List
by Barb Binder
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:
- Nested formats. I really want to embed character formats within my paragraph formats.
- GREP Find & Change. Pattern-based find and change would be life-changing for cleaning up documents.
- GREP Styles. Pattern-based character formatting would be even better.
- 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.
- Footnotes. Please allow them to break across pages, and never ever put the footnote text on the page after its reference number.
- Letterspacing: Can we make tracking/kerning a little easier to do on a manual basis?
- 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.)
- 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.
- Scaling. Can’t we please have Scale in the context menu when we have a frame selected?
- Frame formats. I would love to see a Frame Designer and Frame Catalog.
- 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.