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More localization and user-friendly features in the new Framemaker 2015

Framemaker2015BoxYou might have heard by now that there have been some updates to the Adobe Technical Communications Suite (TCS) that were released today! Both Framemaker and Robohelp have been updated significantly, while the other programs (Captivate, Acrobat, and Presenter), have had some ongoing updates as well.

Adobe held two virtual press conferences in early May 2015 to let insiders learn about these latest and greatest releases for updating Framemaker and Robohelp. I’ll start with Framemaker in this post, and post about Robohelp in a post coming soon.

The biggest take-away that I took from the Framemaker press conference was that Adobe has worked to make the application more user-friendly so little or no coding is needed, even though access to code is still available, and that efforts are continuing to push forward to make more global and mobile outputs available.

The latest version of Framemaker will be titled Framemaker (FM) 2015. The reason for this is that way, all the versions within TCS will be in synch based on the year that the version was released. So, Robohelp (RH) and the other applications will also be known by the 2015 label for this release. It makes sense, and easier to track than version 10, 11, etc. for different products.

The presentation was given by Kapil Verma, who is the Group Marketing and Product Manager for the Adobe Tech Comm line of products.

Kapil reminded us that in the last four years, there have been a lot of advances in FM, including DITA support, multichannel publishing, mobile publishing, CMS connector API, multiview XML authoring, AEM connector,  native multi-channel device publishing, FM XML author, MathML, Enhanced collaboration w/mobile and cloud based tech, and other productivity boosters. So, while a lot of upgrades and enhancements have happened in that short amount of time, further enhancements found in this update are sure to make technical writers rather happy.

What’s new in FM 2015? There are six main points that were given, and while Kapil did a “deep-dive” into each of these highlights, I’m going to be giving you the highlights of those points.

Framemaker 2015 will allow you to work faster and smarter with several core feature enhancements.

  • Working with tables is much easier and faster now. You can conditionalize columns and rows (formerly only on rows) now, and there are usability improvements to allow arrow keys to navigate cells, tab to insert rows, and drag-drop rows and columns. There are several new table styles available out of the box. When demonstrated it, looked REALLY easy, very clear, and highly flexible.
  • FM writers can now more easily work with conditional text–including applying it at the book level–due to visual indications of conditions applied on tables and graphic objects. Again, when Kapil demonstrated it, it was very clear where color coding was applied so the writer could more clearly see the associations of what conditional text applied in different areas, making it much easier to make appropriate changes and see the changes.
  • You can now generated a “mini” Table of Contents (TOC) in the middle of a document, simply by placing the TOC where you want, then easily modifying it and styling it the way you want!
  • Enhanced Word import provides more options and control, with the ability to map styles for paragraphs, characters and tables while retaining Word formatting for matched styles or inline Word formatting overrides.

Serve a global audience with new right to left language support.

  • Arabic and Hebrew are now included and supported in FM 2015! There is also leveraged support for Right-to-Left (RTL) languages and the ability to create bi-directional documents. This support for bi-directional content means that you can have both RTL and LTR (Left-to-Right) in the same document–you don’t have to choose one or the other. You can have just about any combination of languages in a document now!
  • New object direction properties for document and object such as paragraphs, tables, text flows etc. can be inherited from the direction imported from Word, whether it’s LTR, RTL, or both. You can leverage the direction inheritance model to enable 1-click flip of all objects.
  • You can publish your RTL content into multiple formats including Acrobat, HTML5, HTML, ePub, Kindle, iOS, Android, and Webhelp.

Publish for mobile devices–including mobile apps–natively.

  • FM 2015 has a brand new HTML5 layout with several enhancements, including topic descriptions and breadcrumbs, with the ability to show search results on the left panel for easier navigation. HTML5 layout comes with host of customization abilities including the easy “off/on” functions in which you can choose the component to customize, then view and customize the component properties in a visual/tabular format, allowing writers to achieve frameless outputs.
  • Writers will now be able to publish natively mobile apps using Framemaker that are iOS and Android supported, using PhoneGap:Build, which is an Adobe product. PhoneGap is available for a single app generation for free, while creating multiple apps requires a PhoneGap/CS subscription. The way it works is that once the app is created, it creates a QR code so that a user can scan and download the app, or save the info to your local drive. The content itself can be published to Google Store or iTunes.

Personalized content can be delivered dynamically to your end users.

  • Dynamic content filters are provided in the navigation for the end users to allow them what to see what they want to see. The creation of how to do this reminded me of how taxonomy tags are used in Adobe’s AEM to filter content for readers. This can be done by enabling the dynamic filter in the output, then creating and customizing with the conditional tags used in the content for the end user filter. The Dynamic Content Filter applies to all content, meaning the main content as well as TOC, topics, and search results. Existing tags can be re-used, based on existing conditional tags/expressions functionality.
  • Generate high fidelity ePub outputs by embedding your custom fonts.

XML authoring is easier now for SMEs/Contributors.

  • There was the realization that the current XML authoring workflow in FM 12 has been too complex for SMEs and other “casual contributors”, so a simplified XML authoring environment was created.  This new XML Authoring environment is ideal for SMEs, Casual contributors, and even technical writers who are new to XML/DITA,  as it was created for those who have not been exposed to XML, allowing them to work with common objects rather than elements that will always produce valid XML. The input for these users looks like a form, which is easier for most anyone to figure out.  You can create a free form authoring form, or a guided authoring form where you ask for specific info. (This looked really good, because I could see some benefits for this for a project that I’ve been working on.) This simplified form-like environment allows the end user to enter various types of content quite easily, with a simplified menu and tool bar, an enhanced quick element toolbar which mimics many of the same features as an MS Word text editing toolbar. A DITA toolbar is also provided out of the box, as well as a BYOT (build your own toolbar) feature for your custom application.
  • MathML has been enhanced so you can easily do in-line MathML equations through MathFlow Editor, pick up paragraphs properties so that the equation merges well with the surrounding text, and high quality, searchable vector (EPS) output as opposed to raster (PNG) in FM12.
  • A new connector with DITA Exchange by Content Technologies will be shared natively with FM 2015. An enhanced FM-SharePoint connector with claim-based authentication support and support for SharePoint 2013 is also available.

Enjoy a rock solid product with improved usability and performance.

  • To improve usability and performance, Adobe addressed many bugs from its prior release of FM. In fact, more than 90 bugs were corrected in this release!
  • UI enhancements include the ability to resize dialogs (both TOC, Add/edit and show/hide conditions, x-ref, conref, link-ref), conditional text checkbox behavior mentioned above, and no grey areas when you reduce pod width.
  • Performance enhancements include EDD update performance improvements (same operation has been reduced from hours to minutes!), a smart pod refresh, the FM-Adobe Experience Manager connector  has improved performance with multi-threading support), and contextual in-product tips as needed are now included.

There were SO MANY more details about these new features that I left out for the sake of the length of this post, but if you have any questions whatsoever about this new product, I highly encourage you to contact Adobe. To make it easier for you, click on the ad in the right column of this post to find out more!

As mentioned earlier, this will be part of TCS 2015, which will include the 2015 versions of Framemaker, RoboHelp, Captivate, Acrobat, and Presenter. Buying it as the Tech Comm Suite is a 57% discount from buying buying each of these separately, and you can use these in an end-to-end workflow, so it’s worth getting the entire package!

Pricing & Availability on June 2 (in USD):

Product Full Price Upgrade from last release Upgrade from 2 releases Subscription Price Languages Supported
FrameMaker 2015 $999 FM 12 :$399 FM 11: $599 $29.99/mo English, French, German, and Japanese
FrameMaker 2015 XML Author $399 (no upgrade) $19.99/mo English, French, German, Japanese
FrameMaker 2015 Publishing Server $14,999 FMPS 12: $5999 FMPS 11: $8999 $499/mo English only
RoboHelp 2015 $999 RH 11: $399 RH 10: $599 $29.99/mo English, French, German, Japanese
Technical Communications Suite 2015 $1699 TCS5: $699 TCS 4, 3, 2 or 1: $1199 $49.99/mo English, French, German, Japanese

Overall, as the main foundation product of Technical Communications Suite, Framemaker 2015 looks to be a significant update that will help provide technical writers with the user-friendly, flexible tools needed to truly create the best content possible for their end-users that serve their ever-growing global and mobile needs.

Oh, and there’s a FREE webinar on June 16th, 2015 to launch the product. If you would like to attend that, register on the Adobe Online Event site. The event runs from 11:00 AM-1:00 PM Eastern Time.

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A TechCommGeekMom Milestone: A baby blog is now a toddler



I think my little blog just grew up a bit. I not only reached the 10,000 all-time hits mark, but even passed it. For a niche blog that’s 13.5 months old, I think that’s pretty amazing! I’m a proud TechCommGeekMom!

Thank you to every person who’s a regular reader, who just popped in once in a while, or who came only once for a visit. 10,000 all-time hits is a lot! Now, I know of blogs that have definitely had more traffic than me, mostly because they are much more hyper-focused on a particular segment of technical communications, like everything you want to know about a particular type of software, everything you want to know about a particular strategy, or else they’ve been around for a long time, so they’ve built up a following after a while. I do not begrudge these people, as they are my inspiration, and in some ways, they have contributed to this blog too through curated content now and then. TechCommGeekMom wants to be like those blogs as it grows up!

I trust that you enjoy what you read, and that you keep coming back for more. I’d like to think that the variety presented here, mixed with my own eccentric flair, brings about a lot of different perspectives of what technical communications is and what it can be. As I’ve said in the past, this blog started out very small, as a grad school project to build a community via social media, and I chose to work on building my tech comm/e-learning/m-learning community. I’m guessing that perhaps–just perhaps–I may have achieved my goal of creating a TechCommGeekMom community, and yet I hope the family will continue to grow. If you have any suggestions or ideas of things you’d like to see here, or if you’d like to contribute a guest post, please let me know!

Many thanks from the bottom of my heart for helping me reach this milestone! This blog is a labor of love, and it has opened so many doors for me, which I hope continue to open! I truly appreciate the support!

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Is Social Learning Dead? Not At All!: Float Mobile Learning

See on Scoop.itM-learning, E-Learning, and Technical Communications

Dr. Gary Woodill resists the idea that social learning is dying. In fact, social learning may be in your organization’s best interests.

Danielle M. Villegas‘s insight:

Thanks to Chad Udell (@visualrinse) for posting this on Google+.

Gary Woodill is one of my favorite m-learning gurus. He writes insightful and easy-to-read articles, papers and books on m-learning, and was one of the pioneers to talk about it at length.  I was especially thrilled when he retweeted the link to my Whitepaper about m-learning in conjunction with human literacy and memory. It was like having someone like Mozart or Beethoven put their seal of approval on my musical composition.

I’ve noticed this trend that Gary mentions too, that once everyone gets used to a concept, then it’s deemed “old news” or “dead”, when it’s just that we’re comfortable with it now. Gary explains it very well here–a very good read.


See on

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Happy 1st Birthday,!

One year ago today, I took steps that would change my life. I started this blog.  Its purpose was two-fold. First, I was encouraged by my friend, fellow grad student, and technical communicator, Shay Shaked, to write a tech comm blog. He insisted that I was a good writer and that I had some interesting insights to technology, tech comm, and m-learning, and that I should just start writing some of this stuff down. I thought he was a little crazy, but I had done blogging before, so it seemed like a natural thing to do.  At the same time, I was taking a fantastic social media class for my last semester in NJIT’s MSPTC program with Dr. Andrew Klobucar, and one of our assignments was to start a blog that centered on creating community for a particular topic. Since I was already about to start writing a blog upon Shay’s encouragement about tech comm issues, Dr. K had no problem with me continuing on my own with this, as long as what my end product produced, along with building up my social network through Twitter and Facebook (and any other outlets) also showed that I was immersing myself into my community and participating in that community.  So, a little tech comm blog, with the goal of just having a niche audience in tech comm, e-learning, and m-learning was born. I never expected many people to notice my blog, or at most, it would be very, very small.

Boy, was I wrong! has changed my life! It has opened many doors that I would have never expected, and has become a bigger blog than I ever expected. Sure, it’s still a fairly small blog with a small niche following, but even so, it exploded from my perspective.

As of this writing, since the first words were published on this blog a year ago, TechCommGeekMom has received 8800 hits, with my best day having hit 112 hits. It has been read in 107 countries. 107! I have about 634 registered followers of the blog as well. All this was accomplished through 306 posts (this is number 307) and 996 tags of both original and curated content. I pulled in content that I thought was interesting, and even had the aforementioned Shay do a guest post, but otherwise I just wrote about what I was going on in my mind. Little did I know that others had similar thoughts, or enjoyed my writing. I made sure to promote my little blog through my TechCommGeekMom Twitter account, which I had started shortly before the blog, and on my Facebook and LinkedIn accounts as well. Getting exposure is all about marketing yourself, especially if you’re out of work, and looking to graduate soon and find a tech comm job, as I was at the time.

My efforts definitely started working. The number of Twitter followers I had went from a mere 20 followers to 100 within a few weeks. Now, I have about 600 followers. Again, as compared to the major players in tech comm, that’s not a lot, but to have gone from 20 to 600 in about a year–that’s a pretty big jump! I started seeing people retweeting the links I was posting to my blog posts, and that was exciting! I think one of the biggest thrills for me was when I saw my tweet promoting my blog post about the m-learning Whitepaper that I wrote re-tweeted by one of the leading m-leading experts out there, and he was even one of my references in the paper–WHOA! I was even thrilled that another one of my references in the Whitepaper was actually my editor, too. I mean, who gets that kind of help? I also have enjoyed talking one-on-one with many of these experts through social media, and glad that so many have become not only mentors, but friends as well.

My big “break” was, as regular readers know, due to Adobe. I had written the post about wanting to know more about tech comm software, and of all the software companies that I mentioned, Parth Mukherjee of Adobe’s TCS marketing group actually responded. I really never expected ANYONE to respond to it. It was just a frustrated, ranting post, and yet here was someone from a major software company contacting me.  So thanks to Parth, to whom I’ll forever be grateful, he helped me gain greater exposure, offering me a chance to do a Thought Leadership webinar when I was still a graduate student (I delivered it a month after graduation–see the link on the right sidebar), and between him and his team, have provided me with many great writing opportunities. This relationship has grown, which is evident from the advertisement that you see in the top right corner from them. (Do click it!) Through Adobe, I had the chance to go to their pre-conference event at Lavacon this past October, and meet other movers and shakers in the tech comm industry who truly are the ones who are moving this profession forward. It’s very cool to say that I was yarn shopping with about half the presenters at the Adobe’s pre-Lavacon event, and I continue to keep in contact–or at least keep up–with most of the people I met there even now.

This also helped open doors through the STC. I started making connections locally and through those I had met both through Twitter, my blog, and meeting at the Adobe event. Long story, short, this created some notice within STC that my local chapter asked me to do some articles for their newsletter.  Also, after attending a webinar by the STC, the moderator recognized my moniker, and asked if I would be interested in writing for them! You’ve been seeing the result of that collaboration most recently with my “First-Timer’s Summit” posts, which will be continuing for a little while.

I also received fantastic mentions by and, who have also been great supporters, as well as the professors and fellow MSPTC’ers, for continuing to be a source of support. Couldn’t do it without y’all too.

I just completed my first professional presentation yesterday at the STC Mid-Atlantic Technical Conference in Philadelphia yesterday. I was nervous, but happy that my talk was well-received, and I got a chance to meet some of the people whom I had gotten to know on Twitter and other social media venues in person.  I think the biggest thrill–or perhaps it was shock–that I got yesterday was that two people came up to me and asked, “Aren’t you TechCommGeekMom?” They weren’t people whom I had met before online, either. One of the attendees to my session even told me she attended because a co-worker saw that I was presenting, and told her that she should go see “TechCommGeekMom”.  For me, that totally blew my mind. I’m still (happily) freaking out over it.

So, from what started out essentially as a student project for grad school has grown into something much, much bigger.  I’m working full-time now, so it’s not as easy to keep up the pace of writing as regularly as I used to during the past year, but this is my special project, and I’m not about to stop. I have grown in so many ways since starting this blog, and when I look back on my life a year ago, so much has changed, and changed for the better. I finally did get a job, and part of it was that they liked not only what I had to say in my interview and liked my e-portfolio, but they liked what I had to say in my blog. There was an interview that I got (although I didn’t get the job) in which the hiring manager actually included me for the interviews because he said he was intrigued by what I had to say about mobile learning in my blog.

It appears that when one feels insignificant in the world, just another number in a huge statistic, she can still have a voice, and I found mine in the past year. I’m just incredibly grateful, more than words can actually describe, that people who have read this blog appreciate my voice.

I’m excited to see where the next year is going. TechCommGeekMom is not going away. I feel like I’m just getting started! I love meeting all the wonderful people that I have in the tech comm and e-learning/m-learning fields. I’m not going to stop writing about either topic, and I will continue to try to write and curate articles that I think are important or have any kind of impact on others, or just feel that it needs some sort of commentary. Ironically, second article that I wrote for this blog, written immediately after the first one, was a small rant about how iWork documents for iPad wouldn’t be saved in the iCloud. Ha, how things have changed. The presentation that I did yesterday was done on my iPad
(me, still promoting mobile!), and it has a backup in the iCloud. Oh yeah.

Two Boys and a Girl (8-12) Blowing Out Candles on a Birthday Cake

If you would like to help me celebrate, be sure to refer my blog to others, and feel free to look at past posts over the past year, and let me know if you’d like to see me write or comment on anything in particular! I am always open to suggestions, and it helps me bring together the TechCommGeekMom community that I hope I’ve created. Helping this blog grow would be the best present ever.

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A true test of mobile versus…not.

MP900435893A recent event has made me discover that I will be tested in understanding how my true use of mobile technology will really be in the near future.

How did I come to that discovery?

I recently sent in a proposal to do a presentation, and I was notified over the weekend that the proposal has been accepted! I’m really thrilled for a number of reasons. First, it’s the first time I’ve actually sent in a proposal to do a presentation, so to have it accepted on the first try is pretty good. Second, this presentation will be the first real professional presentation I’ve ever done to a large group. I’ve done presentations, but not on this scale before. Third, it’s going to be for the STC’s Mid-Atlantic Technical Conference, hosted by one of my home chapters, the STCPhiladelphia Metropolitan Chapter, in early March of this year. Less than a month and a half away from this writing! So, it’s going to be nice representing my own chapter, and being able to sleep in my own bed instead of traveling too far to do this! 😉 So, for a number of reasons, you can see that I’m actually very excited and honored to be included, especially considering that I’m still a “young” professional in the technical communications field.

But in receiving this acceptance, I realized that now I have to actually put everything together for this presentation. I have the foundation for it, which is what I forwarded to the conference’s review committee, so that’s not the issue. Now the issue is pulling it all together to be a stellar presentation. I know I can do a presentation, but I need to create some sort of slideshow or PowerPoint content that can be displayed while I actually present.

Now, I know what you are thinking. You are probably thinking, “But TechCommGeekMom, you are a technical communicator. Surely you know how to do, at least, a simple PowerPoint presentation?” Indeed, I do know how to do that, and do it well. I also know some other tools to use as well. That’s not the issue or the problem either. I have a bigger problem to figure out. The problem is whether to create the slideshow in PowerPoint on my laptop, and bring my laptop with me, OR…create the presentation in Keynote on my iPad, and bring my iPad with me. There’s always the third option of creating the presentation for both, and bringing both, but I’d like to avoid doing that, if possible.

On the one hand, using my laptop is a guarantee. We know that a laptop can generally hook up to video/VGA/ HDMI cables that most conference centers use, so that’s not a problem. But I have a BIG laptop–a big 17-inch screen one. It’s a little on the heavy side. I bought it during grad school for the big stuff I had to do, and sometimes still do, with web design, writing large papers, and for the big power-lifting tasks that one needs a laptop.

On the other hand, I am the huge proponent of using mobile devices, and having a means of creating a slideshow on my iPad presents a new option that I haven’t had in the past. I could buy a cable (or two) that could hook up into a conference center‘s video system– I don’t mind the expense of getting the necessary cables to do that–but I don’t want to be left standing with an iPad and a bunch of cables that may not be compatible with the video screen system, thus no presentation other than me and my big mouth. (I could pull that off–just a speech alone, since I remember giving presentations even in my school days before computers were even present in schools, but that’s giving away my age now…) But let’s face it–pictures and words on a screen are much more entertaining than verbal words alone in this day and age. Since I don’t know what this conference center has, I have to second guess what’s there. This is my preference, but this is not guaranteed to work.

So, here’s a crowdsourcing question for anyone who’s reading this, especially if you have done professional presentations on the road. What should I do? Should I plan on bringing the laptop and create a standard PowerPoint formatted presentation? Or, should I plan on practicing what I preach about using mobile devices, namely using my iPad, and create the presentation on that? If I should use the iPad, what extra cables should I purchase? Or, should I just plan on creating it on both, and bringing both?

I especially need the help of those who do presentations on the road often. Who has used an iPad? Who has used only a laptop? What are the advantages and disadvantages in either instance? What has worked best for you?

Let me know what your suggestions are in the comments below. I really would love to get some input on this! Thanks!