Adobe FrameMaker

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Adobe FrameMaker is a document processor for the production and manipulation of large structured documents. It is produced by Adobe Systems. Although FrameMaker has evolved slowly in recent years, it maintains a strong following among professional technical writers.



FrameMaker has more or less kept up with the times in supporting new standards such as XML and WebDAV, but at heart it is a proprietary single-desktop-oriented system based on a binary file format. While problems exist in FrameMaker's XML implementation, the application supports authoring in an XML-based workflow.

FrameMaker became an Adobe product in 1995 when Adobe purchased Frame Technology Corp. Adobe added SGML support, which eventually morphed into today's XML support. In April 2004, Adobe ceased support of FrameMaker for the Macintosh.

This reinvigorated rumors surfacing in 2001 that product development and support for FrameMaker were being wound down. Adobe denied these rumors in 2001,[1] later releasing Framemaker 8 at the end of July 2007.

FrameMaker has two ways of approaching documents: structured and unstructured.

  • Structured FrameMaker is used to achieve consistency in documentation within industries such as aerospace, where several models of the same complex product exist, or pharmaceuticals, where translation and standardization are important requirements in communications about products. Structured FrameMaker uses SGML and XML concepts. The author works with an EDD (Element Definition Document), which is a FrameMaker-specific DTD (Document Type Definition). The EDD defines the structure of a document where meaningful units are designated as elements nested in each other depending on their relationships, and where the formatting of these elements is based on their contexts. Attributes or Metadata can be added to these elements and used for single source publishing or for filtering elements during the output processes (such as publishing for print or for web-based display). The author can view the conditions and contexts in a tree-like structure derived from the grammar (as specified by the DTD) or as formatted in a typical final output form.
  • Unstructured FrameMaker uses tagged paragraphs without any imposed logical structure, except that expressed by the author’s concept, topic organization, and the formatting supplied by paragraph tags.

If the user opens a structured file in the unstructured FrameMaker, the structure will be lost.


While working on his master's degree in astrophysics at Columbia University, Charles "Nick" Corfield, a mathematician alumnus of the University of Cambridge, decided to write a WYSIWYG document editor on a Sun-2 workstation. He got the idea from his college roommate at Columbia, Ben Meiry, who went to work at Sun Microsystems as a technical consultant and writer, and saw that there was a market for a powerful and flexible desktop publishing (DTP) product for the professional market.

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