Adobe Day @ Lavacon 2013 – Rich Media in Framemaker with Matt Sullivan

photo from www.portlandoregon.gov/parks

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden
photo from http://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks

Matt Sullivan presented the last individual presentation for Adobe Day at Lavacon 2013, and it was a little different than what I had seen before. To me, it was like Portland’s Crystal Spring Rhododendron Gardens, because while Portland is known for its rose gardens, here’s something that’s different, but not out of place either.

MattSullivan

Matt Sullivan doing his presentation.

Matt recently co-authored the book, Unstructured Framemaker 11 with Sarah O’Keefe, and took the time to show us some of the more special features of Framemaker 11, specifically in reference to the use of rich media and XML. What made this a different presentation from what I had seen before was two-fold. First, Adobe prides itself in presenting these Adobe Day Thought Leadership events as the antithesis of a long commercial for the Adobe Technical Communications Suite applications, so having this presentation about Framemaker specifically seemed to go against that. But the deeper the presentation went, it was obvious that it wasn’t as much about how to include rich media in Framemaker (although that was certainly presented), it was about opening up minds to the idea of using rich media in digital documentation, and Framemaker happened to be the tool used to demonstrate this. Matt Sullivan is one of the foremost experts out there on the use of Framemaker (he did co-author a book, after all, and I’ve seen the book–it’s a hefty tome), so this made a lot of sense. The second part that seemed different was that it was a demonstration at all. As mentioned before, I was a little confused that an aspect of Framemaker was being demonstrated.  For those who were familiar with the product, it was easier to follow along. For those who weren’t as familiar with the product, they could keep up, but it didn’t necessarily have the same impact, but opened eyes to possibilities.

All that aside, Matt gave a lively demonstration of how one can produce rich media output from DITA/XML. Because this was a live demo, it was hard to track all the nuances of the presentation, so there weren’t a lot of notes taken as it would be difficult to describe the processes step-by-step as he was doing them. The audience went along for the journey through these processes, and we could see how Matt used Framemaker to include of rich media. Matt showed us how one can place videos, flash components, and other multimedia into Framemaker docs. He also showed us how to integrate these into the DITA map, and how a PDF document can be produced for both print and interactive versions. One of the best examples Matt showed us was  how 3D models can be used in Framemaker documents in addition to control tables. Matt explained that the beauty of the ability to add rich media to documentation is that it’s all about the single-sourcing features to be able to integrate the rich media.  The other part of what makes it optimal is that rich media can be saved to online formats. He stressed that rich media can be used in unstructured Framemaker as well as structured Framemaker.

Matt has also done several Adobe webinars covering much of the information presented in this presentation and more. As a refresher, he offered a 45-minute demo with the details found at http://wp.me/p1KX8V-4P, which is also available on his blog at http://mattrsullivan.com.

While it was a little difficult to cover and summarize this presentation (no fault of Matt’s–he did an excellent job), as I said before, this was something new for me to experience at an Adobe Day.  I learned not only about how to include multimedia objects in Framemaker specifically, but Matt was also showing how valuable rich media can be when used correctly and methodically in almost any kind of documentation and content out there, which is really the more important part of the bigger picture. As technical communicators, we need to remember that we don’t have to be limited by text and stand-alone images.

(Matt, if you need to correct anything I’ve said here or would like to add anything, please feel free to add in the Comments section!)

Next in the Adobe Day -Lavacon 2013 coverage: Val Swisher’s presentation.

(Yes, I’m going backwards with how everything was presented. Why? Because I can. :-) )

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