How to Get Started with Adobe FrameMaker 2019

I love lists and shortcuts, since they help me be more efficient. In this post I want to share with you some tips and tricks I’ve learnt on my way to become a FrameMaker expert in the near future.

Note: FrameMaker supports different XML environments. I assume you use DITA to organize your content.


  • Adobe provides two set of samples ootb. The ones located in the Samples folder are not very useful if you work with structured content. Navigate to the following folder to access the samples that are revelant for you as a technical author: Adobe FrameMaker 2019 > Structure > xml > TravelDITA . In this folder you find different samples for DITA content.
  • FrameMaker also has a complete working application environment for DITA content. Meaning, when you open a file, you can work WYSIWYG (the tags are hidden).


  • Embedded maps are supported. This feature is great for huge documentation sets containing different products or guides.
  • Breadcrums help you Identify the filetype (topic, concept, task, reference) and the additional levels in which the content is organized.
  • You can customize the landing page (welcome screen). The default DITA version for which the configuration is set is 1.3. You can modify this.

Content Management Systems

  • If you are using a content management system (like Adobe Experience Manager, which has default ootb support) you can connect FrameMaker to its repository to keep both systems in sync.
  • Right-click a file and select the checkout option to upload it from the repository. A green tick is added to the topic icon. Additionally, a tab named “Repository Manager” is displayed.

GUI Layout

  • Click the Views tab to select the views you want to show.
  • The Structure view allows you to see the hierarchy of the topic elements at a glance. You can tidy it up by collapsing sections. Tip: to collapse all siblings, hold down ctrl and click the triangle to the left.
  • Use the Element Boundaries (as Tags) option to show the tags in the text. This option might be helpful to check if the correct styles have been applied. Note that these tags will be visible if you print the topic.
  • The Elements catalog shows all the elements that can be inserted within the selected tag. Sometimes it is not displayed by default. To open it, navigate to View > Pods > Element Catalog or use the shortcut: Esc E C.
  • You can move around the different view elements and save them as a workspace so that they’re displayed the same way next time you work in a topic. I personally like to have the structure view on the left side and use the ctrl+1 shortcut to display the elements I can choose from, especially when I’m working without extra monitors. To save your workspace, go to Authoring (at the top right) and select Save workspace.

File Management

  • Right-click a map and select View Dependents to see the list of topics linked from the map.

Content Management

  • You can use drag and drop to reorganize content elements.
  • You can also insert invalid elements anywhere in the text and fix them later. This is very useful when you paste content from another source.
  • Double-clicking an element in the Elements catalog opens the Attributes dialog, where you can define ids (for xrefs), alignment,  conrefs, output classes, etc
  • The attributes and their values are stored within the element and saved in the file. Unless otherwise instructed, the template defines the format of the elements. You can also define values manually that override the template definitions.
  • In the 2019 edition, you can use draft comments to create messages within the topic that won’t be displayed in the output (these messages are reminders, notes or comments for the reviewer). You can show these comments in the editor view by selecting the Conditionalize Comments On File Open option (under Structure > DITA)
  • The attributes used in the content that are not defined in a Ditaval are shown by default.
  • Follow best practices for filenames (alphanumeric chars) and avoid spaces and special characters.

Special Features you don’t Want to Miss

  • You can generate QR codes in FrameMaker to link to a topic in the documentation and add them to different cards or even hardware. Anybody can scan the code with a mobile device and access the content.
  • Here you can find a list of useful shortcuts for FrameMaker and Windows.

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