Designing Print Documentation:
FrameMaker Tutorial--Conversion Techniques

Developed for Advanced Documentation Students
David A. McMurrey
Dianne Shelton

See the FrameMaker resource page for additional study materials. Got comments or questions about FrameMaker? Send them to the class in the FrameMaker workshop area of the Print Documentation Chatroom

The following FrameMaker tutorial will guide you through the steps of converting other source files to FrameMaker. If you see any errors or think we should have included other tasks, let us know! These tutorials only get you started; if you have more in-depth needs, see the Adobe FrameMaker User Guide or Adobe FrameMaker Classroom in a Book. (This tutorial is provided for advanced documentation students on a free, as-is basis, without guarantee of accuracy.)

This tutorial is based on FrameMaker version 5.5 for Windows. You may see some minor differences if you are using a different version.

Converting Files To FrameMaker

How do you convert a document to FrameMaker?

First, you need to understand how text is represented in software applications. On a fundamental level, think about how computers represent characters. Some machines follow the ACSII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) and some follow the EBCDIC (Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code).

On a higher level, software programs have their own unique way to represent text. This is known as an internal format. For example, FrameMaker has an internal format known as Maker Interchange Format (MIF). When you convert a file to FrameMaker, the internal filter changes the source format to a MIF file. Once the document is converted to a MIF file, FrameMaker converts the document to a FrameMaker document. Although this sounds complicated, the process is automated so that all you have to do is click a few buttons.

Opening a File

The following section will guide you through the steps of opening a different source document in FrameMaker. However, before you convert a document to FrameMaker, you will need a text file. Use the link below to download the file and save it to your local directory.

  1. Download the Word file: test.doc.
  2. Open FrameMaker, and click on File and then on Open.
  3. Select the document and open it.
  4. If FrameMaker cannot identify the document source, a dialog open will open up.

  5. Select the source document's application (in this case, Microsoft Word97).
  6. Click Convert.
  7. You have now converted a Word document to a FrameMaker document.

Importing a File

You can also import a file to FrameMaker. The difference between importing a file and opening a file is that you import a document when you only want to copy the file, or parts of it, to FrameMaker. You open a document when you want to convert the whole file to FrameMaker. The following section will guide you through the steps of importing a different source document in FrameMaker.

  1. Click on File and then on Import and then File.
  2. A dialog box opens up.

  3. Select the document.
  4. Click Import.
  5. You have now imported a Word document into a FrameMaker document.

Other Techniques

What if your file is not supported by the FrameMaker filter? You can save the original document in another format and try opening the file in FrameMaker.

  1. First, open the test document in Word.
  2. Click on File and then on Save As...
  3. A dialog box will open up.

  4. Select from the Save as type: Rich Text Format (RTF).
  5. Note: RTF is an interchange format that is supported by many software applications.

  6. Now, once you have saved the document, go back and open the document in FrameMaker.
  7. Note: If you still can't open the file, you might try saving the document as Text Only. If you do this, you will lose all the original formatting of the document and all the graphics, but you will be able to salvage the text.

Converting Files From FrameMaker

You can convert FrameMaker files to other word processing files. The following section will guide you through the steps of converting FrameMaker files to other file formats.

Let's go ahead and convert the FrameMaker document back to Word.

  1. Open the test document in FrameMaker.
  2. Click on File and then on Save As.
  3. Select from Save as type and click on the file type you want to convert the document to (in this case, Microsoft Word97).

  4. Click Save.
  5. Now, go to Word and open the file.
  6. Note: If you encounter errors while opening the document, try saving the document again. Sometimes, if the FrameMaker document is long, this process can take a while to complete depending on how fast your computer runs and how much patience you have.

Converting a File To HTML

You can convert FrameMaker files to HTML using the built-in FrameMaker conversion utility.The following section will guide you through the steps of converting FrameMaker files to HTML files.

Note: The FrameMaker conversion utility can only handle limited HTML tags. If you have special formatting in your FrameMaker document, you will probably lose the formatting.

  1. In FrameMaker, open the test document.

    You will convert this document to HTML.

  2. Select File and then Save As.
  3. Save your FrameMaker document as a HTML file
  4. Note: In the File Name box, be sure to type the .html extension after the file name.

  5. Select File and then Utilities, then HTML Setup...
  6. You will use the HTML utilities dialog box to customize the mappings in your FrameMaker file. Since this document only has one page with limited formatting, you will map the bullets to the appropriate HTML tag.

  7. Select from the From menu the paragraph style, Bullet.

    FrameMaker will automatically default the bullets to the HTML tag of list item.

  8. Check the Nest List at Depth: box and select 3 from the pull down menu.

    When you select 3 for the Nest List Depth, this will cause the bullet to indent from the rest of the text on the web page. You can choose how much of an indent you want on your page by changing this number.

  9. Now, check the Include Autonumber box.

    Checking this box will provide the actual bullet character in the HTML document.

  10. Click Change.
  11. Note: You only need to change the mappings once per paragraph style.

  12. Select File and then Save As....
  13. Save the document as a HTML file.

  14. Now, go to your web browser and open the HTML file. You can do this by selecting File and Open Page... and then selecting the file.
  15. To get a feel for the FrameMaker HTML utility, go back to the test document and change the bullet mapping to Block Quote. Click Change and save the file as a HTML file. Now, view the document on your web browser. Notice how the text is indented, but without bullets.

    Also, notice how the FrameMaker HTML utility only provides limited HTML mapping. It will take some time and understanding of HTML tagging to get your FrameMaker document looking the way you want it. But, with a little patience, you can turn FrameMaker files to HTML files.

Adding Navigational Guides in FrameMaker

You can add navigational guides to your HTML files in FrameMaker. This section will guide you through the steps of adding the code for navigational guides.

Navigational guides are hyperlinks to the other HTML documents. For example, if you convert a FrameMaker book, you will generally have a navigational guide to the previous page and a navigational guide to following page, plus one guide to a top-level page, like a chapter page. The navigational guides can be text links, like the ones provided in the following example, or the navigational guides can be graphics, like the Back and Forward buttons on your web browser.

Note: For more information on how to include graphic navigational guides in your FrameMaker document, please consult the Adobe FrameMaker User Guide.

  1. Select View and then Reference Pages.
  2. Scroll down to the System Macros table and find the macro, EndOfSubDoc.
  3. Macro Name  Replace With Head  Comments
    StartOfDoc <TITLE> <$defaulttitle></TITLE> 
    StartOfSubDoc  <TITLE> <$defaulttitle></TITLE> 
    StartOfFirstSubDoc <TITLE> <$defaulttitle></TITLE> 
    StartOfLastSubDoc  <TITLE> <$defaulttitle></TITLE> 

  4. In the Replace With column under the macro name, EndOfSubDoc, type the HTML code as follows:
  5. <A><p><A HREF="<$parentdoc>">Return to main page< /A></p>

    <A><p><A HREF="<$prevsubdoc>">Go to previous page< /A></p>

    <A><p><A HREF="<$nextsubdoc>"> Go to next page </A></p>

    This code will provide navigational guides to every sub document. Now, you will add the navigational code for the last page of the document.

  6. In the Replace With column under the macro name, Add EndOfDoc, type the HTML code as follows:
  7. <A><p><A HREF="<$parentdoc>"> Return to main page</A></p>

    You have just added a navigational guide to the last page of the HTML file.

Conversion Tools

Did you find converting FrameMaker to HTML a bit tedious? If you did, there is a better way. You can purchase third-party applications to convert FrameMaker files to HTML. Third-party applications work in conjunction with FrameMaker to extend the conversion process. For example, the FrameMaker conversion utility has limited use. You can increase the performance and output of the FrameMaker utility by adding a third-party software tool. This section will discuss two HTML conversion tools.

One of the better conversion tools on the market is from Quadralay Corporation. The product is called WebWorks® Publisher. Like FrameMaker, WebWorks® Publisher is a template based workflow and preserves the book structure. Basically, you set up the template mapping each FrameMaker setting to the equivalent online setting. What's the difference? You only have to set up the WebWorks Publisher template once, with FrameMaker, you have to map each style in every document. The software is available for Windows, Macintosh, and UNIX operating systems.

Another conversion tool is from Blueberry Software. The product is called Filtrix. This application supports 20 formats, including HTML, Word, and Interleaf. Filtrix can convert tables, graphics, and formatted text. The software is available for Windows and UNIX operating systems.

In this tutorial, you have learned how to convert files to FrameMaker and from Framemaker. You have learned how to open and import files. You have also learned how to convert FrameMaker files to HTML.

If you've completed this tutorial and are taking an online course in print documentation, go to the FrameMaker workshop area of the Print Documentation Chatroom and let the rest of the class know how you did on this tutorial.

This information is provide and maintained by David A. McMurrey. For information on use, customization, or copies, e-mail