What Adobe Should Put in Framemaker 10

If you’re fortunate enough not to use Word, it seems the only other decent choice for technical writing is Adobe’s Framemaker. However, some of Frame’s quirks make Word look almost welcoming. Here’s a running list of the things I’d like to see in the next release of Frame, in no particular order:

  • Find and Replace with more functions. How come I can find a marker, but can’t replace it with a different kind of marker?
  • Dialog boxes and palettes that you can close with the Esc key.
  • More intuitive keyboard shortcuts. All of these Esc functions hearken back to UNIX, and when’s the last time anyone used Frame on UNIX?
  • Drag and drop text. C’mon, this was a new feature to users back in, what, 1990?
  • I can’t believe I’m writing this, but Macintosh support. Seriously, I’d give the Mac another look if Frame ran on it natively. Emulation doesn’t count. Yes, I’m aware of Boot Camp and Parallels.
  • Full OpenType support. All of Adobe’s fonts are now OpenType, with ligatures and special characters, but yet we tech writers get the typographical shaft.
  • Word processing features, like AutoCorrect, spellcheck as you type, and all of those everyday functions that Word has, but writing in Word is so bad that you refuse to go back.
  • How about Ctrl-backspace to delete a word before the cursor, just as Ctrl-delete works great for deleting the word before a cursor. Again, this was a feature of, let’s say, Word 2.0?
  • Support for transparent PNGs.
  • How about a more usable “missing file” dialog box? If you type in the path to the file, Frame doesn’t change to that directory, it accepts that as the filename!
  • Much better style management. How come I can import styles across a book, but they don’t always update? Why can’t I delete unused styles? Argh.
  • A reasonable upgrade price commensurate with the new features. All DITA, all the time, isn’t worth $400.

Check back often for updates to this list, since I find something that drives me insane pretty regularly.

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13 thoughts on “What Adobe Should Put in Framemaker 10”

  1. I think you could add support for splitted footnotes (like Indesign) and splitted table cell (like Word)

  2. Tables in general are a nightmare! I don’t user footnotes, so I hadn’t considered their functionality.
    -=Ed.

  3. 1. Style inheritance–even Open Office does this. Give me the option to chain styles within a document / book / project. Or not, if I don’t want to. After all, I can already have lebbenty-lebben numbering series (well, 37) so why can’t I control styles better. Even Lotus WordPro does a better job…

    2. and while we’re browsing through Open Office, how about the ability to classify styles as Default, Available, In Use, etc? Also, add Used In Condition xxx to make life interesting.

    3. Find/Replace that (a) works (maybe using the full power of regular expressions), and (b) works across multiple documents / books / projects.

    4. An explanation of structured documents that makes sense and explains why as well as what, and shows examples…

  4. * Better integration with Design science Mathtype,
    for MATHML and MATHML export.
    * Inline Equations are a nightmare
    The internal frame-math isn’t Upto the mark, and maybe too much to ask internal Mathml support.

    Figure and Table placement should include page specification, there seems to be no way to specify to put on top of “next” page, top of last page.

  5. Citation Management, Zotero and Refworks support.

    Similar to MS-Office, there must be away to apply formatting “format equations” to all mathtype equations in the document at one go. Otherwise changing font size for all mathtype equations one by one is v tedious.

  6. Increase the number of recently opened files (MRU list) say upto any configurable number ex 32, let it be configurable in the general preferences or maker.ini file. Its paradoxical that one can open more tabs than the MRU list can hold. Its dangerous to leave files open as tabs just to avoid having to find and open.

  7. Ironic how all the new effort is for DITA. We’ve tried FM9 with DITA and now are moving to Oxygen Author 12 because FM9 is so glacially slow.

    It takes 10 hours each to build a multi-volume doc set with FM9 vs. 45 minutes using the DITA open toolkit.

  8. I’m still using FM 7.2, because I’m a single writer, and there’s no real reason for me to use DITA. I looked at Frame 9, and other than the new UI to make it more consistent with the Creative Suite, it was still old Frame. Not even the menus changed.

    Interesting stats, though. Something to consider for those thinking about the move to DITA.

  9. In general Frame needs a complete overhaul to bring it up to par with modern software.

    But this would be my number one request: We always used graphics “imported by reference.” So if you cut and paste a few pages with graphics to another Frame document, you have to delete, move, and re-import each graphic so the link is to the current document and not the one you copied from. I’m not sure it would be possible, but if Frame could do all this automatically when you cut and paste, it would be a huge benefit in terms of convenience and productivity.

  10. What I would like to see, since I am being forced to use this program that I hated 10 years ago when I was forced to use it then and still do:

    Make it so double clicking on text with the select object tool changes it back to smart select

    Make CTRL+Home / End function

    Make it so we can move graphics using the up/down/left/right arrows

  11. Can anybody say whether integration with Design science Mathtype is better in FrameMaker 10? Especially with respect to inline equations…

    Thanks

  12. Victor, can’t answer your question, unfortunately.

    I was at an Adobe seminar this past week that introduced the Technical Communication Suite 3. Of course they handed out demo CDs. I installed Frame 10 only, and other than a new, cleaner look, it still seems to be the same old Frame underneath the hood. Same menus, same order. It looks like they’ve done a lot with the structured side, but how many people are really using that? From the 30-40 people at the seminar in NYC, one raised their hand when asked if using structured authoring.

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