Adobe FrameMaker: Why Can’t I Edit my Document?
by Barb Binder
Updated for FrameMaker 2015 on May 3, 2016
FrameMaker has had a view-only option for as long as I can remember. Long before most of us began using Acrobat for view-only file distribution, a product called FrameViewer was available to address that need for early FrameMaker users. The idea was that you could create a complicated FrameMaker publication, and then distribute it electronically for viewing out in the field with the much-less-expensive FrameViewer.
These days, most people rely on Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader for electronic file distribution (FrameViewer disappeared years ago). So what does this have to do with your FrameMaker workflow? Back in the day, you used a complicated keyboard shortcut to lock and unlock a FrameMaker file: Esc F l k. (That means press the Esc key, then a capital F, then a lowercase l and a lowercase k. In my head I’m thinking: Esc File lock) Since there wasn’t a menu command, it wasn’t very easy to accidently lock a document.
The prominent position of the lock button makes me nervous. Imagine this: you are in a hurry and want to print your document. You miss the Print button and click the Lock button, but don’t realize it. Suddenly, you have a reduced set of menus, and you can’t edit the file. In a panic, you might click the Undo button—which doesn’t unlock the document. Worse, even closing and reopening the document doesn’t unlock it. Of course, all you have to do is click the lock button one more time to remove the view-only property, but when I’m panicking, I rarely think clearly enough to make a rational decision like that.
The moral of this little story: unless you are checking your hyperlinks, stay away from the lock button. If you suddenly can’t edit your file, and you notice that about half of the normal menus are missing, it means you must have clicked it and put your document into view-only mode. Seek out the lock button, click it again to unlock your file, and maybe make a mental note to stay clear of it in the future.