September 2013 Meeting Announcement: Converting FrameMaker content to DITA

Presented by Scott Prentice

The September meeting is on Wednesday, September 18, 2013, from 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm in downtown San Francisco in the SF Grove Room at NEW LOCATION! the Hub in downtown San Francisco. HUB, 901 Mission St, at Fifth Street, is a short walk from the Powell Street BART/MUNI Station. HUB Bay Area is a community of people building a better world. You can learn more about the HUB community at www.HubBayArea.com. For details about reaching the location and instructions for purchasing tickets, visit www.stc-sf.org/stc-meetings.htm. Light refreshments are provided.

About the Presentation

You’ve decided that it makes sense to migrate your existing unstructured FrameMaker files to an XML-based workflow using DITA. The next thing you’ll need to do is convert some of that content into DITA topic and map files so you can develop a proof of concept workflow for both authoring and publishing. It is very important to validate that you can successfully author and publish in this new model before making the move. Take plenty of time to ensure a successful migration. There are many methods for performing the conversion from unstructured FrameMaker to DITA.

In this presentation, Scott will discuss the available options, then will walk you through the entire process using FrameMaker conversion tables. This isn’t necessarily the best option for everyone, but the concepts required, especially those related to the pre-conversion process, will likely apply to all methods. Migrating from unstructured FrameMaker to DITA typically requires some rewriting and reorganization of the content before conversion. Once this is done, you’ll set up a mapping from the unstructured paragraph and character styles, and document objects to the corresponding elements. The conversion tables define this mapping. Applying a conversion table creates structured FrameMaker files from your unstructured files. You’ll then need to perform additional cleanup on those files before saving to XML.

The entire process can be a bit daunting, and if you just have a few books to convert it may be best to just pay someone else to do it. But if you have a large amount of content to convert, it might just be worth taking it on yourself. You’ll learn a new skill and will be able to work the conversion process into your schedule as time allows. After converting your files to DITA, you can continue to author and publish with FrameMaker, or you can switch authoring and/or publishing to other tools. The great thing about moving to XML is that your content is no longer tied to just one proprietary tool. You do still need to buy/use proprietary tools, but if something better comes along, it’s much easier to switch!

About the Presenter

Scott Prentice has been in the technical publication field since 1991 and is the President of Leximation, Inc. He focuses on custom online help and EPUB development, FrameMaker plugin and structure application development, as well as custom web application development. He is very involved with DITA authoring and publishing, and created the DITA-FMx plugin for FrameMaker.

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