FrameMaker Tutorial:
Conversion Techniques

Developed for advanced documentation students by
David A. McMurrey Dianne Shelton
Jacqueline J. Pulido ---

See the FrameMaker resource page for additional study materials. Got a question about this tutorial? Post it in the FrameMaker FAQ


The following FrameMaker tutorial will guide you through the steps of converting files in FrameMaker. You will learn how to convert other file types to FrameMaker and how to covert FrameMaker files to other file types, including MS Word and HTML.

This tutorial is provided for advanced documentation students on a free, as-is basis, without guarantee of accuracy. If you see any errors or think we should have included other tasks, let us know! Other tutorials focus on the basics, graphics, styles, tables, templates, master pages, book building, and variable text. 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.

The tutorial's instructions are based on FrameMaker version 6.0 for Windows. You may encounter some minor differences if you are using another version.

Note: For the sake of brevity, we use an abbreviated style for menu commands throughout this lesson. For example, "Choose File > New" means "Choose New from the File menu".

Converting Files To FrameMaker

Before you learn how to convert a file to FrameMaker, 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.

The next three sections will introduce you to some basic techniques for converting files to FrameMaker. Specifically, you will learn about:

Converting Other File Types to FrameMaker

The following lesson shows you how to open a document that was created in another application and convert it to a FrameMaker document. Specifically, you will open a MS Word document and convert it to a FrameMaker document.

First, you need a document that you can convert to FrameMaker. Use the link below to download a sample Word document and save it to your local directory:

  1. Click on the following link: convert.doc.

  2. Depending on your browser, select the appropriate command(s) to save this file. (For the Netscape browser, click Save File.)

  3. In the Save As dialog box, the file name should be convert.doc. Select an appropriate directory to save this sample document, and click Save.

Note: If you are working in the TCM computer lab, use the A: drive to save your file on a diskette.

Now, you are ready to open and convert this file to FrameMaker:

  1. Open FrameMaker.

  2. Choose File > Open (Ctrl + O).

  3. In the Open dialog box, select the sample document's directory, and double-click on convert.doc to open it.

  4. Since FrameMaker cannot identify the document's source, the Unknown File Type dialog appears:

    Unknown File Type

    Scroll through the list and look at the file types that can be converted to FrameMaker -- the available filters.

    Note: You can use File > Open to convert any of these file types to FrameMaker.

  5. Select the sample document's file type; in this case, click Microsoft Word97/98/2000, then click Convert. A dialog box appears, showing the status of the conversion; once the document appears in the document window, the conversion is complete .

  6. Save your FrameMaker document. Click the Save button ( Save File ), select the appropriate directory, type word2fm for the file name, and click Save.

Before you start the next lesson, take a few minutes and look at this file. Click in the different paragraphs and notice the styles (e.g. Section and Subsection) created in MS Word have been converted to FrameMaker tags and are available in the Paragraph Catalog. Also the header frame has been carried over to the master page.

Notice, however, this file still needs some editing -- like most converted files. For example, you may need to update the paragraph tags to remove their overrides (remember the asterisk in front of the tag indicates an override), change the bullet symbol's style, and delete some unnecessary tab stops.

Importing Other File Types into FrameMaker

You can also import files created by other software applications into a FrameMaker document. The difference between importing a file and opening a file is that you import a file when you want to only copy the file, or parts of it, into an existing FrameMaker document and you open a document when you want to convert the entire file to a new FrameMaker document.

The following lesson guides you through the steps of importing the sample Word document into a FrameMaker document:

  1. First, open a new blank FrameMaker document. Choose File > New > Document (Ctrl + N), and click Portrait.

  2. Click the Save button ( Save File ) to save the document. In the Save Document dialog box, select the appropriate directory, type imported2 for the file name, and then click Save.

  3. Now, choose File > Import > File. The Import dialog box opens up.

  4. In the Import dialog box, select the sample Word document's directory, click on convert.doc, and then click on Copy Into Document (near the bottom of the dialog box) to activate this option:

    Import

    Copy Into Document strictly copies the imported text and graphics into the document. The other option, Import By Reference, actually links the imported text and graphics to its source document; if the source document changes, the document that contains the imported material automatically updates. (This option works if you are importing a FrameMaker document into another FrameMaker document.)

  5. Then, click Import.

  6. When the Unknown File Type dialog appears, select Microsoft Word97/98/2000, and click Convert.

  7. Once the Word document has been converted, the Import Text Flow By Reference dialog box appears. Make sure its settings match this:

    Import Text Flow By Reference

  8. Click Import, and you have now imported the Word document into an existing FrameMaker document.
Once again, take a few minutes and look at what was actually imported into your FrameMaker document. Notice the styles created in Word appear in the FrameMaker document; however, this time, they are not stored as tags in the Paragraph Catalog. The header frame was not imported to the master page; only the body text was imported. Also the tags that are common to both MS Word and FrameMaker (e.g. Bulleted) reflect the properties of FrameMaker file, not the imported Word file.

Converting Non-Supported File Types to FrameMaker

In the event that your document's file type is not supported by the FrameMaker filter, you will need to open the application where you created the document and resave the document in one of FrameMaker's supported file types.

To show you how this works, let's pretend the sample document's file type (MS Word) is not supported by FrameMaker. Therefore, you need to open the MS Word application and save the file in a supported file type:

  1. First, open MS Word.

  2. In MS Word, choose File > Open, select the sample file's directory, and double-click on convert.doc to open it in MS Word.

  3. Choose File > Save As. The Save As dialog box opens up.

  4. From the Save as type pull-down list, select Rich Text Format (*.rtf). RTF is an interchange format that is supported by many software applications. Make sure convert.rtf appears as the file name and the appropriate directory is selected. Then, click Save.

  5. Now, return to FrameMaker.

  6. Open the RTF document in FrameMaker. Choose File > Open, and double click on covert.rtf.

  7. When the Unknown File Type dialog appears, select Microsoft RTF, and click Convert. Once the file has been converted, you can see that the majority of the file remains intact with few minor exceptions.

Note: If you still can't open a file, you may want to 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; however, you will at least be able to salvage the text.

Converting Files From FrameMaker

FrameMaker files can be converted to other word processing formats, such as MS Word. FrameMaker also has built-in utilities which convert documents to web browser formats, including HTML, XML, and PDF. The following sections will introduce you to some basic techniques for converting files from FrameMaker. Specifically, you will learn about:

Converting FrameMaker Files to Other File Types

The Save As command allows you to easily convert your FrameMaker files to other file types. Let's convert your FrameMaker document, word2fm, back to MS Word:

  1. Display word2fm.fm in the FrameMaker document window. (If the file is open, choose Window > word2fm.fm, or if the file is closed, choose File > Open.)

  2. To convert this file to MS Word, choose File > Save As. The Save Document dialog box appears.

  3. From the Save as type pull-down list, select the file type you want -- in this case, select Microsoft Word Win 6.0/7.0 and type fm2word.doc for the file name. This time, be sure to include the .doc file extension.

    Note: You can use File > Save As to convert a FrameMaker file to any of the file types shown in this list.

  4. Click Save, and the document saves to the MS Word file, fm2word.doc. (Unfortunately, FrameMaker doesn't show a status bar for this function.)

  5. Once the conversion is complete, open MS Word to view the file.

  6. In MS Word, choose File > Open, select the file's directory, and double-click on fm2word.doc.

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 FrameMaker files to HTML

The following lesson shows you how to save FrameMaker documents to HTML by using FrameMaker's built-in conversion utility. However, while this conversion utility is simple to use, it only supports a limited number of HTML tags. If you have any special formatting in a document, you will probably lose this formatting during the conversion.

To convert a document, you first need to customize the mappings in the FrameMaker document. Basically, you are specifying how the document's elements (paragraph tags, character tags, etc.,) convert or map to HTML elements (paragraphs, first-level headings, etc.,):

  1. Return to FrameMaker, and redisplay word2fm.fm in the document window.

  2. Choose File > Utilities > HTML Setup to customize your FrameMaker to HTML conversion. The HTML Setup dialog box appears.

  3. At the top of the HTML Setup dialog box, click on the Map pull-down list and select Paragraph Formats, if it is not already selected.

  4. Next, click the From pull-down list and select Bulleted. Notice FrameMaker automatically maps the Bulleted tag to a List Item tag in HTML.

    Note: The supported HTML tags are shown in the To pull-down list:

    HTML tags

  5. Now, indent the bulleted list from the body paragraphs. Click on Nest List at Depth box to active this option (a checkmark shows it's activated) and select 2 from the pull-down list. (Higher numbers correspond to larger indents on the web page.)

  6. Click on the Include Autonumber option to select it; when selected (checked), this option provides a bullet symbol (or numbers for numbered lists) in the HTML file. The settings for the HTML Setup dialog box look like this:

    HTML dialog box

  7. Click Change to save the changes to the Bulleted tag.

    Note: You only need to change the mappings once per paragraph tag.

  8. Follow Steps 3 through 7 to convert the List Number 2 tag to List Item with the a nest list depth of 2 also.

  9. Once you have finished mapping the paragraph tags, close ( X ) the HTML Setup dialog box.

  10. To be safe, click the Save button ( Save File ).
You are now ready to convert your document to HTML:
  1. Choose File > Save As. From the Save as type pull-down list, select HTML (*.htm) and type in fm2html.htm for the file name. Be sure to include the .htm extension.

  2. Click Save, and the document saves to a HTML file.

    Note: FrameMaker automatically creates a cascading style sheet for you. It will be saved with a .css extension in the same directory as the HTML file.

  3. Once the conversion is complete, open your web browser and view the HTML file. You can do this by choosing File > Open Page (Ctrl + O) and selecting the file. (For Netscape, click Choose File, select the file's directory, then double-click on fm2html.htm, and click Open.)

    When viewing your document, it's important to remember that your document's format (how it looks on your screen) will vary depending on the web browser. The HTML file defines the structure of the document, while the browser determines the format of the document.

To get your FrameMaker document to look the exactly way you want it, you may need to spend some time and get greater understanding of HTML tagging. But, with a little patience, you can successfully convert FrameMaker documents to HTML.

Adding Navigational Guides to HTML files

You can add navigational guides to your HTML files in FrameMaker. Navigational guides are hyperlinks to the other HTML documents. For example, if you convert a FrameMaker book to HTML, you will most likely have a navigational guide to the previous page, a navigational guide to following page, and another navigational guide to a top-level page, like a chapter page. Navigational guides can be either text links, like the ones you add in this lesson, or they can be graphical links, like the back and forward icons on your web browser, or a combination of both.

This section shows you how to add a few navigational guides to your FrameMaker document. First, you need to edit the reference page that contains the HTML System Macros table:

  1. Return to FrameMaker, and redisplay word2fm.fm in the document window.

  2. Choose View > Reference Pages.

  3. Page down to the System Macros table, and find the Macro Name called EndOfDoc:

    System Macro table

  4. Add a few navigational guides at the end of your HTML file. In the table cell under the Replace With column in the EndOfDoc row (refer to the figure above), type the HTML code as follows (don't worry if this code wraps inside the table cell):

    <p><A HREF="<$parentdoc>">Return to Main Page</A>

    <p><A HREF="<$prevsubdoc>">Go to Previous Page</A>

    <p><A HREF="<$nextsubdoc>">Go to Next Page</A>

    This code adds three navigational guides at the end of your document. Since you are only working with a single HTML file, only the first two system macros work -- StartOfDoc and EndofDoc. Typically, if you had several HTML files linked together, you would insert these navigational guides in the other rows (StartofSubDoc, EndofSubDoc, etc.,).

  5. Next, add a navigational guide at the top of your document. In the table cell under the Replace With column in the StartOfDoc row (refer to the figure above), type the HTML code as follows:

    <p><A HREF="<$parentdoc>">Return to Main Page</A>

  6. Click the Save button ( Save File ) to save these changes.

  7. You are now ready to convert this document to HTML. Choose File > Save As. Then, from the Save as type pull-down list, select HTML (*.htm), type in navigate.htm for the file name, and then click Save.

  8. Finally, return to your web browser and view your new HTML file. You can do this by choosing File > Open Page (Ctrl + O), and selecting navigate.htm. Your web page now includes one link at the top and three links at the bottom of the page.

    Note: FrameMaker building blocks, <$parentdoc>, <$prevsubdoc>, and <$nextsubdoc>, do not link to any other HTML files.

This is only intended as a brief introduction on how to include navigational guides in your FrameMaker documents. For more information, please consult the Adobe FrameMaker User Guide.

Using Third-Party Conversion Tools

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

If you are using FrameMaker 6.0, its product package now includes Quadralay Corporation's WebWorks® Publisher Standard Edition. Like FrameMaker's conversion utility, WebWorks® Publisher is a template based workflow and preserves the book structure. Basically, you set up a template which maps 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. To learn more, refer to WebWorks® Publisher Standard Edition Getting Started, which is included in FrameMaker's product package. (The software is available for Windows, Macintosh, and UNIX operating systems.)

Blueberry Software markets another conversion tool. 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 and from Framemaker. You have learned how to open and import other file types in FrameMaker and how to convert FrameMaker files to other formats, including MS Word and HTML.


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