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Why would you want to buy, learn and use F+S?

F+S is a good product combining the power of an excellent word processor (better than MS Word) with a good structure editor.Now the bad News:F+S does not support what I call the core XML Framework. F+S doesn't read XSL/FO or even CSS. You have to learn FrameMaker's EDD language plus a little bit of SGML. This will allow you to author in FrameMaker with your own DTDs and export to XML and CSS (that's it, no XSL/FO or XSLT!). Once you suffered though the process of learning and setting up an EDD you will be very productive, but it sure is a shame that "XML world" imports (only DTDs and somewhat XML) and exports are so poor ! Of course, HTML (rather poor) and PDF (great) support constitutes another reason why you may want to learn F+S.

About the Author: I am a total newbie to both F+S and SGML. I opened the F+S box sometimes in July 2000 and tested it on a PC for 2 days. I know standard FrameMaker pretty well. I have experience with server-side XML+XSLT (e.g. with Cocoon). I am interesting in "single-sourcing", i.e. maintaining and producing text (in different formats) in a most painless way. I now have F+S 6.0 for Solaris and am writing this on a comfortable Ultra 10 double monitor system. FrameMaker is one of the reasons why I don't switch to Linux. Btw. Windows is not an answer, it's a question and my answer is "no". So all my explanations center on a Unix installation but can be easily adapted to Windows.

All the documents produced will be available in . In particular you may be interested in the following files:

My SGML application file        ./Stepbystep/
The template file for authors:  ./Stepbystep/
The EDD definition file:        ./Stepbystep/Stepbystep-edd.fmSpecial definitions (defunct):  ./Stepbystep/Stepbystep-edd-xref.fmA file with a few para defs     ./Stepbystep/Stepbystep-paras.fmThe SGML declaration:          ./Stepbystep/Stepbystep-sgmldcl
The read/write rule file:      ./Stepbystep/Stepbystep.rules
The XML DTD                     ./Stepbystep/Stepbystep.dtdThe generated SGML DTD          ./Stepbystep/Stepbystep-sgml.dtd (old?)The CSS for the XML file:       ./quick-fm-xml-guide.cssThe XML output of the guide     ./quick-fm-xml-guide.xmlThe PDF version of the guide    ./quick-fm-xml-guide.pdfYou may also find something in  ./html

I wrote this to help you a bit with X+F to produce XML/HTML/PDF documents based on your own XML DTD ... and to make sure of what I learnt myself. Teaching is one of most efficient learning methods, so I do this kind of thing in one way or another for most technologies I am learning and teaching.

It took me about 5 days to produce this document, including learning F+S and coming up with the Stepbystep DTD and EDD (F+S's own schema language) for this very document. So this is not a fancy tutorial, but may help you a bit wading through the official documentation (a >550 page PDF file called MSGML_Dev_Guide.pdf).

Plan 5 days too: It takes you about 2 days to get something going if you are good at reading technical documentation (I have rarely seen something as bad coming from a major company, however all the information is there). Then rest a bit (I waited until October after my 2-day stint in July) and then plan at least another 3-4 days to have a setup for producing something like this document (written exactly in FrameMaker as described below) in production. Add more days if you need a good XSLT style-sheet in production, if you want to deal with graphics and crossreferences, etc.

I wrote this very document with F+S using a DTD I made just for this called Stepbystep.dtd. It's freeware btw and will allow you to write short "how-to in X steps" documents like this one. All files used are available and should in work in any F+S version 6.0 system. Expect trouble with fonts tough.