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Subject: RE: [docbook-apps] Framemaker to DocBook conversion

On the various FrameMaker mailing lists (google), you'll find regular 
discussions about exporting from FrameMaker's internal format to XML. 

> One tech writer published [2] his attempt at a generic Frame to DocBook 4.4 
> conversion system (EDD, read-write rules, and so on), 

The downloadable project is not so much a "Frame to DocBook 4.4  conversion 
system". It's a "DocBook into Frame" example. FrameMaker is still a great 
tool for book building and formatting for PostScript or PDF. 

I found FrameMaker's troubles mostly related to its XML import and export 
capabilities. On import, FrameMaker converts XML to its internal format. On 
export the reverse. Those conversions open the possibility for trouble. 
Contrast with Arbortext Editor (or emacs), no conversions, no such trouble. 

> but again, I cannot vouch for its quality. This writer's site complains a
> great deal about Frame's XML support and the overall process, so it's not
> exactly a ringing endorsement.   

FrameMaker produces invalid XML from valid DocBook XML upon import, editing, 
and export. Each stage changes the XML in ways that make it invalid. If 
someone has found otherwise, I am interested because I would like to make 
appropriate modifications to my downloadable DocBook-XML_FrameMaker project.

Here is the FrameMaker story as best I can tell. Structured FrameMaker's XML 
capabilities are insufficiently complete and may never be complete. For 
several years now, FrameMaker has been in maintenance mode. The entire San 
Jose FrameMaker development team was let go some years ago and code 
maintenance was sent to India, about the time of the release of FrameMaker 
7.0. Since then, there has been only one significant improvement, SVG support 
in FrameMaker 7.1. FrameMaker 7.2 provided an XSLT trigger as one of its 
major enhancements. So, triggering an XSLT conversion upon XML import/export 
was marketed as a FrameMaker enhancement, as if anyone needed FrameMaker to 
do that. Now, based on FrameMaker's inclusion of this trigger, some say that 
FrameMaker's XML import/export troubles are cured. Shameful. Currently, 
there's a big effort by a few software companies and FrameMaker consultants 
to integrate DITA with FrameMaker. Over time, it may be good.

> However, it is a publically available starting point.   

I welcome suggestions for improving my downloadable DocBook-FrameMaker 
project. I am especially interested in additional read/write rules that would 
eliminate the import/export and validity bugs I detail at:


> Here at IONA, we have a working Frame to DocBook XML setup, but it's far
> from flawless, and it is completely dependent on the style names in our
> inhouse unstructured Frame template. In short, it is not portable to another
> site's Frame template. You can definitely get a DocBook conversion out of
> Frame 7.2 if you put in a lot of work. All you get from Adobe is a kit of
> parts; you must assemble them into a working system that is specific to your
> Frame template. Expect to spend several months on it.      

The DocBook Starter Kit that Adobe ships with FrameMaker 7.2 is still 
essentially the same one they shipped nearly ten years ago. It was originally 
written for DocBook SGML and still has not been fully modified for XML. So, 
it does not work very well for any recent version of DocBook XML. 

Steve Whitlatch


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