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Volume 43, Issue 5
What's in a <FrameMaker tag> Name?
by Shlomo Perets, Founder, MicroType
There are many considerations behind the names you choose for various FrameMaker
items, especially paragraph, character, and conditional tags and variables:
- Tag and color names should imply function rather than appearance—Emphasis
instead of Bold, Quote instead of Indented, Links
instead of BlueUnderline, Heading instead of the specific
color. Variable names should be generic yet meaningful.
- As much as possible, use standard sets of names across templates—this
will facilitate workgroup collaboration as well as help repurpose content
and make it easier to update (with the Import Formats function). Keep in mind
that FrameMaker is case-sensitive.
- Names should be recognized easily: use Step instead of st.
- Names of paragraph and condition tags should be short enough to display
meaningfully in the Cross-Reference and Conditional Text dialog boxes.
- For efficient application of tags and insertion of variables using the
keyboard ("quick keys"), names must have a unique beginning. The
unique beginning can be in the name itself (for example, 2head as
opposed to heading2) or in the form of a special quick key prefix
added to the tag (such as h2 Heading2).
- Take advantage of the sorting order to control the position of items in
a list: seldom used items or generated items can be pushed to the end of list
by having a prefix such as zz or ~ (tilde); frequently used
items can be pushed to the top of list by starting with characters such as
-, @, or =. This will make the lists and palettes tidier and easier to work
with—especially when you have lots of tags. (This also makes it easier
to identify and select paragraphs in the Cross-Reference dialog box.)
- Use a similar beginning for groups of related items—such as all headings
and all table items—so that they stay together in the catalog.
- Don't use backslash, comma, parentheses, and square or angle brackets in
tag names; doing so might create conflicts when the tags are used in variable
- Depending on your template needs, a paragraph or condition tag name can
be retrieved by cross-references or header/footer variables and placed in
the visible page content.
- Character tags to be typed manually in index markers should have minimal
names, such as em for emphasis, in addition to Emphasis (so that
<em> is typed instead of <Emphasis>). Notice
that starting with FrameMaker 5.5.6, </> is understood as "default
paragraph font" so you don't need to define a format to revert to regular
text (</> is also useful in variables and cross-reference formats, as
it keeps more visible content in dialog boxes).
- To prevent colors and character formats that serve special document-related
purposes from being overwritten inadvertently when importing formats from
other documents, use a unique prefix for them.
Shlomo Perets formed MicroType in 1989 and provides training and consulting
in FrameMaker and Acrobat, FrameMaker-to-Acrobat integrated solutions, and online
documentation services. Shlomo will present his advanced FrameMaker
seminars in Houston in February. For details, see www.microtype.com.