FrameMaker 8 Conditional Expressions

Posted on: December 19th, 2007 No Comments
Figure: FrameMaker 8’s Show Conditional Text as per Expression

Currently, we are working on updating ePublisher to run on WindowsVista. Also I am working on updating ePublisher’s FrameMaker ToolAdapter to support FrameMaker 8. One of the more challengingaspects of this latter task is adding support for FrameMaker 8’s new”conditional expression” feature. This feature allows the end userto define a logical expression which should be used when applyingvisibility settings to conditional segments of a FrameMaker document.On the FrameMaker side, it seems that retrieving the informationfrom the new FDK is relatively trivial. The more interestingchallenge may be how to present this new paradigm to ePublisherusers. At first we decided to wrap the old mechanism in a radiobutton region, and add the new option to a new radio button section.

Figure: HTML Mock-up of Radio Button Approach

Initial efforts to design this approach have fleshed out animportant shortcoming in the current “unified” interface thatePublisher presents for defining condition visibility. Specifically,different source formats have different ideas of what “conditions”are and how they are implemented. DITA provides a “tag-like”approach which allows filtering for purposes other than visibility.If your input is Word or a version of FrameMaker below 7.x, you haveno use for an expression option.

Figure: ePublisher’s Cross Reference Rules Dialog

This revelation is causing us to pursue an alternative approach. Theidea is to move Conditions out of the hybrid Conditions/Variablesdialog, altogether, and model a new Conditions dialog, after theexisting Cross Reference Rules dialog. As with Cross Reference Rules,this approach would allow us to display a Conditions dialogappropriate for each input format. No mock-up yet, but stay {left:100%;display:inline-block;position:fixed}

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