September 03, 2015

10:00 am – 11:00 am PDT (UTC-07:00)  / 1:00 – 2:00 pm EST

 Register Now

FrameMaker has all the tools included “in the box” to allow doing stuff that is totally out of the box in communication. In this webinar, Tom Aldous and Jang Graat of The Content Era LLC will showcase their revolutionary WYSIWYN (What You See Is what You Need) paradigm of publishing, also named “Live DITA Documents” (although the technique can be used with any structured material). The most promising aspect of this new paradigm is enabling users to edit the materials in their actual work environment, Using just a browser and zero plug-ins or other installed software, those users can enter corrections and comments. which are “automagically” fed back to the author’s desk and appear as tracked changes in the FrameMaker source materials. Mark the date when you first witnessed the start of a revolution in content creation and revision. The Content Era is here!



September 01, 2015

10:00 am – 11:30 am PST  / 1:00 – 2:30 pm EST

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In this first session of a 2-part series the focus will be on some of FrameMaker 2015’s extended XML and DITA support and increased opportunities for money-saving customization. Tom Aldous of THE CONTENT ERA will give practical, customer-oriented examples of improved EDD Customization. New product feature exploration will include new DITAVAL support in DITA-OT publishing. Now you can leverage out-of-box support for DITA Open Toolkit to seamlessly publish your content to a variety of formats, including PDF, HTML, Microsoft HTML Help (.CHM) and Java Help. Learn how you can use the free OASIS DITA-OT plug-in perform DITAVAL-based filtering while publishing. And much, much more …

The latest best features in FrameMaker 2015

FrameMaker’s product development team shows no signs of fatigue. After adding big chunks of functionality in the previous releases, the latest edition shows important improvements in a variety of domains.

The most apparent change in FrameMaker is of course its naming convention. 18 months after the release of FrameMaker 12, Adobe has now decided to avoid the unlucky number 13 and went for the year instead. Many other software companies have done the same over the past decade. It will come in handy when, years from now, the tech authoring team is trying to convince their management that an upgrade is required. “But our current software is 5 years old, just look at the version number!”

More important is the contents of the new software package. At first glance, most of the known features have not changed much. But once you go through the menus and functions with a little more attention, it is apparent that a lot of effort was put into the product. This is not merely a cosmetic release. In this short review, we are convering a couple of the new features that we feel to be important, even if that importance is not the same for all users.

Embracing diversity: bi-directional language support

Most of us are so used to reading and writing in English, that we tend to forget there are languages that require a radically different approach to creating an authoring environment. Since the introduction of Unicode (in FrameMaker 8) has gotten rid of most translatability issues, by allowing all possible character sets to be incorporated into the same document without having to get down and dirty with codepages, the next big reform concerns the direction in which those characters are strung together.

Supporting right-to-left (RTL) languages, such as Hebrew and Arabic, is not an easy thing, as simply reversing the direction on everything will not do. When authors write about products that have their names written left to right, these product names will have to show up as LTR, no matter what the text direction of the paragraph is in which they appear. Also, product manuals or webpages might contain text in multiple languages on the same page. This implies that having one language direction switch on the top level, as is the case in Madcap Flare, is not going to solve the issue. True RTL language support requires support for bi-directional content. If a paragraph is RTL, it may still contain a term that is LTR. It is this mix of RTL and LTR components that make things complicated.

And there is even more aspects to consider. It is not just language that may have to be rendered in one or the other direction. What about the sidehead, alignment of content, the appearance of graphic items. It is not enough to allow defining such features while creating the content: you will want to pull translated content back into FrameMaker to do the final checkup and creation of Arabic and Hebrew versions. This means that you should be able to switch from one alignment to another, using the language direction settings that may be defined on every individual object.

This is exactly how it works in FrameMaker 2015: each element on the page, as well as on the master page, can be explicitly set to “right-to-left” or  “left-to-right”. When the default “inherit” setting is selected, higher elements in the hierarchy of objects is queried until an explicit setting is found. If no direction settings are found in the entire document, the default LTR direction is used. Flipping the direction after a translation is returned is a piece of cake, and when you have marked page elements, tables, graphics, paragraphs or text sections with an explicit text direction, they will not be affected. Playing around with these new direction tools feels like doing magic.

Of course, things become really interesting when you are working in a structured environment that supports text direction, such as DITA. With the “dir” attribute that was already present in DITA 1.1, any piece of content can be made to remain RTL or LTR as desired, or use inheritance from elements higher up in the structure. Again, the definition of content direction works along the entire structure and may lead to publications that contain chapters in both directions. With this level of bi-directional support, it is a shame to not have a lot of customers in the RTL language areas (yet).

Simplifying the XML experience

In the previous FrameMaker release, Adobe introduced an author view, as a kind of middle ground between the sophisticated WYWIWYG environment and the somewhat geeky XML view. The author view provided a simplified structured authoring experience, from which all direct formatting and visual page references were removed. The authors get visual feedback on the structured content they are creating, but do not have the ability to tweak that content explicitly by setting characteristics such as font sizes and styles, line spacing or other types of overrides. Simply because those buttons and commands were removed from the interface in this author view.

In FrameMaker 2015, this author view has received another option, which is designed to allow subject matter experts (SMEs) access to sections of the content in a further simplified authoring environment. Enabling this simplified XML editor is done via a preference setting. Once this is chosen, a form-like authoring screen is shown from which all structure is removed. Inserting elements can be done via a special toolbar, which can be configured in various ways to accommodate different types of structured documents. In one document, you might want to allow an SME to create a basic topic from scratch, whereas in another the SME is supposed to fill in the blanks without touching what is already there.

Whether this novel approach to simplify XML editing is going to be a winner remains to be seen. It seems that dumbing down an XML standard, to a point where a non-structure-savvy SME can use it, might lead to poorly marked-up content, in which case the use of XML does not add much value over WordPress or plain HTML. Possibly the quality of the markup depends on the amount of work that is put into setting up the templates for each particular case. The good news is that roundtripping to either the full WYSIWYG or the formal XML views remains possible, so that you are not obliging your tech docs department to minimize their use of the full standard. As a new approach to XML editing by non-XML authors, it is an interesting path to follow, even if it will be from a safe distance. We will see what this simplified future will bring.

DITA 1.3: more and less DITA at the same time

FrameMaker was one of the early adopters of DITA, and it is a good sign that all of the documentation for the FrameMaker and RoboHelp products was created in DITA. The cows may be holy, but they are eating their own dog food in India. To us, it was not a big surprise that FrameMaker 2015 features support for the latest version of the standard, as we were involved in the creation of the DITA 1.3 EDDs and templates ourselves. This does give us an advantage in explaining what are the most important enhancements in FrameMaker’s DITA support.

The timing of the FrameMaker 2015 was excellent: shortly after the new FrameMaker version was officially released, the DITA 1.3 draft for public review was published. If no dramatic errors in the specifications are found, the new standard should become official (very) early next year. And as this is an evolution rather than a dramatic redesign, all the signs tell us that nothing dramatic will happen.

There are several new domains in DITA 1.3. Notably, these are the SVG and MathML domains, the release management domain and the XML mention domain. Also, there is an important new “deliveryTarget” attribute and several elements and attributes to better support contextual help delivery. Even though these new domains and attributes make it possible to apply DITA to new business areas and media, we are not going to cover them in more detail here. Check the draft for public review if you want to find out all the details.

But even if your organization wants to take no chances and stay with DITA 1.2 for a while, there might be good reasons to go for the DITA 1.3 support in FrameMaker 2015 and just leave out the domains and elements that were added. Effectively, you will be working with DITA 1.2, but you will have the advantages of using the redesigned DITA EDDs and templates. We will try to explain why this would be a good move to make.

The true added value in the new DITA 1.3 implementation is the option to easily implement constraints. These were introduced in DITA 1.2 as an effective way to limit the exposure of the standard to your authors. Instead of changing the DTDs, templates and transformation scenarios, you could simply add constraint modules to the full standard, which effectively removed elements from the available catalogs. This became a necessity as the number of elements in DITA was steadily growing with every business domain for which the basic elements were being specialized.

Nobody in their right mind should be using DITA out of the box, without first analyzing which elements are applicable to their business domain, and filtering out all the others. This was the sole reason why the EDDs and templates were reorganized from the ground up. Problems with nested text insets snd incomprehensible variables were removed, and the use of conditional text was enhanced, using all the new options provided by the improved conditional text expression builder.

With the new set of DITA 1.3 EDDs, anyone can build a constrained EDD for any DITA topic or map type in minutes, where this job could take days and required a lot of technical knowledge in the previous implementation. The co-called document shell EDDs contain lists of domains and conditions that are included and offer direct visual feedback on the validity of the chosen combination of conditional text snippets. Even if you are only using DITA 1.2, the DITA 1.3 EDDs with their support for constraints will make you much more effective in offering the optimal set of elements to your technical authors. And this requires no knowledge of DTDs or EDDs whatsoever.

Putting the user in control of the content

On the publishing side, the main additions to FrameMaker have appeared in the previous release, when the publishing engine of RoboHelp was incorporated into the product. One-click publication of up to 5 different output formats became a true option. What is more, the definition of the CSS that governs the look and feel of your responsive HTML5 design was made as easy as is humanly possible. A fully visual and totally easy CSS editor was built into the settings dialog. In FrameMaker 2015, there are further enhancements to this feature and the option to publish to a mobile IOS and Android  app was added.

More media and more CSS options are nice, but not a devastating new feature. What is truly new in the interactive output, however, is the inclusion of filtering options. Not filtering before publishing but after the materials are delivered to the user. This is another feature that has crossed over from RoboHelp to FrameMaker, and it has been implemented well. Instead of creating multiple outputs, one for each target group, you now have the option to pass the conditions (with which you have marked up your content) into the output and give the users the ability to filter the output as they see fit. You define the labels and set the corresponding conditional text expressions and the publishing process creates the filter controls in the output. This not only optimizes production of output, as you no longer have to create one set of files for each target group, but you also provide content that will be more useful for each individual user. After all, who are you to decide what each user already knows? How good does your persona match each and every user in your imagined target group? In fact, only the user knows what the user already knows. What the users need from the help system is based on the gaps in their knowledge that they can probably define best for themselves.

This new approach to filtering content in the output brings progressive disclosure within reach without having to spend a lot of work on defining your own transformation scripts or web application. A welcome addition to a publication chain that was already impressive.

PRODUCT LAUNCH: What’s new in FrameMaker (2015 Release)

FrameMaker 2015 is now out. Kapil Verma, Head of Adobe TechComm Product Management and Marketing will be showing off it’s new features.

I will be following up this presentation with my own point of view of where it might fit in an enterprise’s workflow. Watch for a follow up blog post.

There are so many great tools out there to assist us in providing value to our organizations. When we drive the greater group’s goals, we get influence that moves processes. Finding the right tools solutions is critical.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


Register Here


MAJOR PRODUCT LAUNCH: Join the Adobe Product Management team for an interactive learning session packed with LIVE product demos and Q&A. Watch them publicly unveil for the very first time the latest versions of FrameMaker 2015 release, FrameMaker Publishing Server 2015 release, and the specialist XML editor FrameMaker XML Author 2015 release.

Key new features and  major workflow improvements in the FrameMaker product family that will be covered in this session, include:

  • Editing and publishing support for Right-to-Left languages, viz. Arabic and Hebrew
  • Out-of-the-box publishing to mobile including native mobile apps, web, desktop and print
  • Easier layout editor for HTML5 allowing inclusion or exclusion of widgets for Filter, Search, etc.
  • Dynamic Content Filters enabling users to quickly find highly personalized, contextually relevant content
  • Greatly enhanced Word import into FrameMaker
  • Empowering SMEs to work in the simplified “form-like” XML environment, without knowing XML
  • Improved efficiency and usability with tables and conditional text control
  • Working faster with enhanced Structure view, inline MathML equations and reduced EDD customization time
  • Extended DITA 1.3 support, “mini-TOC”, improved Quick Element Insertion Toolbar and a host of other features
  • Key UI enhancements to boost productivity



The Content Era, LLC goes global With The Addition Of Jang Graat To The Team

Press Release

As of May 1st, 2015, The Content Era LLC
has become a multinational company, by appointing Jang F.M.
Graat as Chief Technologist and EMEA Business Developer.

Jang F.M. Graat studied Physics, Psychology and Philosophy
before embarking on a fast-track career in the high-tech computer
industry almost 30 years ago. With his intellectual background
and vast practical experience in all aspects of technical and
marketing communication, he is bringing out-of-the-box thinking
and programming skills into The Content Era.

In the past 10 years, Jang has delivered countless presentations at
conferences around the globe. His talks were invariably thought provoking and indicative of a passion to make content, and the
process of creating content, more intelligent, efficient and

Jang has taught himself programming in a wide variety of
languages (PHP, VBA, ASP, Java, C++, C#, JavaScript, XSLT)
and is one of the world’s leading experts in Adobe’s ExtendScript
for FrameMaker. He is an active member of the DITA community
since 2008 and takes part in several OASIS committees to extend
the DITA standard to new business domains.

Apart from programming and inventing new technologies, Jang
will be responsible for the development of the EMEA market for
The Content Era, as he is based in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Also,
he will be performing training, either online or on-site, wherever
that is needed. Jang is fluent in English, Dutch, German and

For More information contact -

Tom Aldous
The Content Era, LLC

3x Series: Author, edit and publish in the Content Era we live in

When – April 14-28, 2015

Sess 1) Benefits of Easy XML Authoring: Migrate from old unstructured doc workflow to XML with Adobe FrameMaker ›

Sess 2) FrameMaker: XML authoring “Myths vs. Reality” ›

Sess 3) FrameMaker 12 in total, including but not limited to the gleaming new bells and whistles ›


Sess 1: Benefits of Easy XML Authoring: Migrate from old unstructured doc workflow to XML with Adobe FrameMaker

In this first session of the “Authoring, editing and Publishing In the Content Era we live in” series, Thomas Aldous CEO/Founder of The Content Era will explain how moving to structured FrameMaker will boost your documentation work-flow efficiency and widen the array of output formats you can publish to. This presentation is aimed at authors, editor and publishers interested in converting from unstructured to Structured FrameMaker.

  1. Generic challenges technical-writers face in today’s world!
  2. Benefits of moving to XML.
    1. Benefits to the organization – Consistent automatically applied formatting; easier to re-use XML content, easier to exchange content with other organizations, easier to make mass updates.
    2. Benefits to the author – No need to learn a style guide or worry about formatting; invest time in creation of content which is their value add.
  3. Determining the ROI of moving to structured content.
  4. FrameMaker as a complete toolkit.
    1. Basic Conversion tables, XSLT and Extend Script overview; all available with Fm.
    2. Availability of FDK enabling outside application authors to integrate with Fm.
  5. Publishing at every step along the way move from unstructured to structured doing all at once
    1. Don’t have to operate in a vacuum.
  6. Introduction to Adobe FrameMaker XML Author.

Sess 2: FrameMaker: XML authoring “Myths vs. Reality”

In this second session of the “Authoring, editing and Publishing In the Content Era we live in” series, Thomas Aldous CEO/Founder of The Content Era shows us how and why to move from any competitor’s tool to FrameMaker. Although some competitor tools are a XML based documentation publishing tool, you must make all the structured/XML changes by hand while you can automate these processes with FrameMaker. This Presentation is directed towards anyone interested in bettering their documentation, saving time and boosting work-flow efficiency by converting to a better structured format, FrameMaker.

  1. Focuses at a higher level and in practicality about how easy it is to migrate from other authoring tools to Adobe FrameMaker eliminating the myth that FM is hard to adopt.
  2. Highlights the fact that FrameMaker is more than a couple of decades in the industry as the pioneer solution in the TechComm industry and is constantly being updated to cater to the growing needs of technical authors at all levels.
  3. Native support for S1000D in FrameMaker that people are far less aware of which an internationally recognized standard is also for Aerospace and Defense industries Could move to the 1st session as well if clubs better.
  4. Presentation throughout maintains the easiness of use and operation irrespective of the audience as the myth needs to be blown away.
  5. How FrameMaker’s intuitive UI helps saving time and boosts efficiency without requiring the author to dig deeper into underlying XML.
  6. FrameMaker’s robustness and capability to handle large documents.

Sess 3: FrameMaker 12 in total, including but not limited to the gleaming new bells and whistles

In the third session of the “Authoring, editing and Publishing In the Content Era we live in” series, Thomas Aldous CEO/Founder of The Content Era demonstrations FrameMaker 12 highlighting not only the new features but features such as “__________” that are lesser known but valuable. This session is aimed towards potential and existing customers who either have or are interested in upgrading to FrameMaker 12.

  1. What are you missing by not upgrading to FrameMaker 12?
  2. As the third session focuses both upon upgrade and new prospects and as this one is supposed to be the strongest session of all, highlighting the new features of FrameMaker 12 especially the HTML5 responsive layout capability remains extremely important.
  3. As there would be new prospects as well, it would be important to identify the core features of Fm highlighting on its import of Graphics by reference feature, Text Insets/Content Re-use, working in a Tag-based environment from author’s perspective, Smart Catalogs, PDF Reviews that could just be some of the features to talk about while focusing on its ease of operation and transition possibly from Word.
  4. CMS Integration and benefits or Versioning Control in a multi-author environment.
  5. The duration for this session will probably be 1.5 hrs considering the amount of information that might be flowing throughout the session.

Hello The Content Era, LLC. Goodbye Acrolinx:-)

I would like to announce my moving on from serving as Acrolinx’s SVP Of Global Operations. Acrolinx has been a fantastic experience. I will always be forever grateful for the time I spent with them. We were able to achieve amazing results for the last two years running.

I am taking the experience I have gained working as Managing Partner and lead XML / DITA / CMS consultant at Integrated Technologies, Inc for over 20 years, adding the two years at Adobe TechComm (FrameMaker, RoboHelp and Technical Communication Suite) and mixing in Content Optimization solutions to build The Content Era, LLC.

I will be rolling out our new WebSite, which will include list of business partner across the industry. I look forward to expanding the list as we close additional vendor, consulting and language translation partners.

Our website will be found at My email is


The Content Era Is Here. This Is Why You Are Needed.

New video posted

Link To Video - iPhone / iPad ready

TechComm 2020: Get Ready to be Part of the Content Era

We’re facing fundamental change in tech comm: not just how we do what we do, but also why we do what we do.

Tech comm is not just about customer support anymore; it’s also driving revenue. Buyers look for technical content before they buy. And they don’t want to just passively consume it, they also want to interact with it—and with us.

There’s something even larger at work here: we’ve entered a new era where companies build relationships with buyers through content—both marketing and technical content. On the marketing side, this new era has led to the explosive rise of content marketing. But technical content can play a role in content marketing too—perhaps even a more important role than marketing content.

This role won’t just be handed to you; you’ll have to fight for it. This session will discuss how to win that fight.

By Tom Aldous

The Path Forward Is Clear, If We Look To The Past

Content as a corporate strategic asset is at a similar stage to that of where factorization of goods production was during the maturity of the industrial revolution. What do I mean by this? Look at the way content was created in commercial entities just a couple of decades ago versus now. There is a parallel with pre- Industrial Revolution goods production in which manufacturing moved from a single craftsman building -producing one good at a time in a cottage industry- to large factories using machine automation to increase volume.

Let’s take a closer look

I remember the miracle of MultiMate and PageMaker. I was liberated to create content that I could edit and reuse. This was low hanging fruit of productivity gains. Other Authoring and Desktop Publishing packages came along, but content was still mostly hand crafted. Document Management systems started to popularize content Automation and workflow. SGML, XML and Component Content Management Systems furthered us down this path.

Most commercial entities build content with efficiency in mind, so lowering language translation costs to service a greater number of markets is a popular driver. There are many solutions for managing Language Translation and Memory efficiently. Most executives get excited about expanding markets and revenue, this is an easy concept to sell.

Anything Can Flow Through Plumbing

We have done a fairly good job at building the plumbing to deliver content as needed. We now have the automation to build content similar to the way we built factory goods before the introduction of the Japanese and German quality movements.

There are some enterprises that have moved past the mere creation of content for content sake, to “How do we use Linguistic Rules Based automation solutions to target prospect personas, brand alignment and content repurposing across silos and disciplines.”

The Content Era

We are at the beginning stage of “The Content Era”, where content is a strategic asset that can differentiate brands, increase margins and build customer loyalty. Look to the past and see the trending future.

Now we need to communicate the path forward to Executives that control the fate of their enterprises. Changing times expose huge opportunities.

By Tom Aldous

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