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Transit NXT and FrameMaker

Adobe FrameMaker and Transit NXT

Transit NXT and FrameMaker


There's life in the old dogs yet

Adobe FrameMaker is a software application for creating, managing and publishing large and complex technical publications, including structured documents. First released in 1986, there have been rumours repeatedly circulated that FrameMaker development would be discontinued, but as the saying goes: "There's life in the old dog yet!". Because of its excellent XML/DITA and DTD support and the ability to create help systems in conjunction with Adobe Robohelp, FrameMaker maintains a strong following among professional technical writers.

A long-standing friendship

Transit, first released in 1988, has supported FrameMaker since Transit 2.0 (1994) and has upgraded the filter ever since. With Service Pack 7, Transit NXT supports FrameMaker versions 4.0 - 11.0. It does so by means of the so-called Maker Interchange Format (MIF), a proprietary ASCII-based markup language. That means that you have to convert the FrameMaker files to MIF format before you can import them into Transit.

FMGate

The best way to convert FrameMaker files (.FM) into the MIF-format is to use FMGate. FMGate is a plug-in from STAR for Adobe FrameMaker that converts FM files into MIF and/or PDF files and converts MIF files back into FM files. The PDF files generated with FMGate can be used for the synchronized viewing of the PDFs from within Transit's translation editor. (Synchronization works both ways: when you click on a segment in the translation editor, Transit shows the corresponding location in the PDF file viewer, and when you click on text in the PDF file, Transit jumps to the corresponding text segment in the translation editor. ). FMGate performs all the required conversions in batch mode, ie. you can convert all FM files of a book OR all MIF files of a folder in one operation. Once you have installed FMGate, you can access the plug-in from the FrameMaker File menu, under Utilities | Transit FM Tools. To convert FrameMaker files into MIF files and/or PDF files, you have to first choose the target folders for either file type. Afterwards, you can carry out the desired conversion, either one after the other or all in one go.

FrameMaker Transit Tools

Convert FrameMaker files into MIF format with FMGate

After the conversion, you can import the MIF files into Transit just like you would do with any other file format. When you define your project, you select Adobe Frame Maker (MIF) as your file type. As with other file types, Transit imports all the files in your import folder and subfolders in batch mode and recreates the folder structure in Transit's working folder. After translation, you simply export back into the MIF format and then convert the MIF files into FM again with the help of FMGate. As you can see in the above screen shot, the command Convert MIF files to FM files is located in the same File menu under Utilities | Transit FM Tools. You can find more information about Transit NXT and FrameMaker in the Download section of the STAR Group website:

Please note that the FrameMaker filter is an optional filter that does not come with the standard Transit NXT Professional or Transit NXT Freelance Pro filter sets but has to be purchased separately. Many thanks to Karen Ellis for revising this post.