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Re: XML cookbook questions

At 11:54 AM 8/28/03 +0200, Thomas Michanek wrote:

>Again, I'm just a beginner at this, and I'm trying to get a grip on
>things without having to read the Developer's Guide PDF from cover to
>cover. That's why I'm referring to what the Cookbook says (or doesn't).
>Even though I'm not focusing on becoming a full-fledge XML application
>designer, I still want to understand the basics. So, my comment wasn't
>made from the perspective of a writer only using a structured template,
>but from the EDD designer's.

  Remember that both the Dev Guide and the Cookbook discuss moving
documents between their FM and XML representations as well as setting up
structured templates. You might want to concentrate initially on
using structure within FM. Then, when you're comfortable with those ideas,
you can move on to XML import and export and converting legacy documents.
For now, I recommend that you don't bother with a cover-to-cover reading
of the Dev Guide, Part II on EDDs is sufficient!

>I've only seen a few examples of simple EDDs and structured templates,
>but it still strikes me as odd that the structured template does contain
>a normal set of paragraph and character tags, which are then referred
>to in only very limited ways from the EDD. For instance, in the XML
>Cookbook files, the generic heading element <Head> is defined to have
>different paragraph formatting depending on the heading level (by
>counting ancestors). The text format rules set a number of formatting
>properties explicitly, despite the fact that the structured template
>already contains the exact same heading formatting defined as paragraph
>tags! (which is true for all elements corresponding to paragraphs).
>What's the point in defining *both* tags and EDD formatting properties,
>identical in appearance?

To confuse the reader? There's no reason to define both. As you know,
templates over time tend to acquire unnecessary catalog entries. It may
also be that the development effort started from a template that had
these formats defined. Instead of simply referring to them, the Cookbook
developer chose to specify individual formatting properties to illustrate
how to do so and neglected to remove the catalog entries from the template.

>Maybe the idea is that you should
>be able to create unstructured documents using the same template?

If you want to use the same template for unstructured documents, then your
EDD should specify formatting by referring to the paragraph and character
formats. No point in providing the same information twice, or in attempting
to maintain two sets of specifications in parallel.

>> I find it much easier to maintain a structured template when the EDD
>> often uses hierarchical styles that set only relevant properties rather
>> than referring to paragraph and character catalog entries.
>I'll probably realize this the more I work in structured mode, but
>wouldn't it be a good idea for a "cookbook" to emphasize the advantages?
>In my case, the XML Cookbook is my first introduction to Structured
>Authoring, and I actually did expect to receive good design advice.

I won't express my opinions on goals of cookbooks in general or this
one in particular. However, the FM 7.0 XML Cookbook illustrates some
of the steps in setting up an XML application, but does not go into
the philosophy behind those steps.


Lynne A. Price
Text Structure Consulting, Inc.
Specializing in structured FrameMaker consulting and training
lprice@txstruct.com            http://www.txstruct.com
voice/fax: (510) 583-1505      cell phone: (510) 421-2284

The program for the 2003 FrameUsers Conference includes several
presentations and training on XML and structured documents. See
http://www.FrameUsers.com for more information.

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