Tips and Tricks: Review Frame Content with Adobe Acrobat

If you have a copy of the Adobe Technical Communications Suite, you get a full license of FrameMaker and Acrobat. This set of tips shows you how to use these tools together during the review process. The best part? You can even do the bulk of what I write about using the free Adobe Reader. That’s right. Free.

Working with Comments

User skill set/audience: Minimal. Useful for all users.

If you create a PDF document in versions of FrameMaker prior to release 12 and share them with reviewers you need to put your writing on hold until they’re finished. FrameMaker lets you import comments from a PDF, but you couldn’t work to edit content while the review was happening.

Now that has changed. You can create a PDF,  and continue to make edits to the source FrameMaker file (and not just little format changes, but full out edits to content, rewriting paragraphs, and more). Let’s explore how you can review Frame content with Acrobat.

PDF setupCreate a PDF

  1. Open your FrameMaker 12 file (note that this MUST be done in FrameMaker 12).
  2. Select File > Save As PDF.
  3. Name the document and choose a location.
  4. In the PDF Setup Dialog, under Settings, select Generate PDF for review only.
  5. Click Set.

Bonus tip: While you are at it, you can consider clicking View Generated PDF in Acrobat as well if you want to proof the file at the same time.

Commenting in Adobe Reader

Once a PDF has been created from FrameMaker, open it up. If you selected View Generated PDF in Acrobat as well, then it’s automatically opened. However, you can send the PDF files to others and let them comment as well. You can also have multiple reviewers create comments and then import them from multiple files.

Testing this yourself though really lets you see the changes quickly.

  1. Open the PDF in Adobe Reader (which is FREE!).
  2. Enable commenting (look in the top right corner).Reader-commenting
  3. Add comments using either Sticky Note or Highlight Text.If you are using the full Adobe Acrobat Pro software (included with the Adobe Technical Communications Suite) you have WAY more commenting functionality to work with: Annotations, Drawing Markups, Review, and Comments List (and the ability to summarize comments in a range of ways).
    acrobat pro tools
  4. Once comments have been added, save the file.

Modifying your FrameMaker source file

You can continue to modify your FrameMaker source file as needed WHILE THE REVIEW IS ONGOING. This is new. Go ahead. Open your file. Add a few paragraphs, or insert some images. Change the order of a list. Basically, take the time to update and tweak content.

Consider this example of a PDF document in which a comment is added. You can see that it is immediately after 1.1.2, at the bottom of page 2.

PDF example 1

Now consider the FrameMaker source which has been updated. There is now an image, some more details added to the section, and content reflows across pages.

FM example 1

Import Comments

Once the comments have been added to a PDF document you can import them back into FrameMaker, even after content has been updated in the source. Again, refer to the two previous examples for a clear “before” on which the PDF is based, and an “after” on which the updated FrameMaker file is based. Now, let’s explore importing comments into a document where changes have been made.

  1. In FrameMaker open the modified document.
  2. Select File > Import > PDF Comments.
  3. comment import summary
    In this sample a single sticky note has been imported. The comments are generally added in the correct location based on where content was in the source
  4. Review the document and the comments.
Bernard Aschwanden

Since 1992, Bernard Aschwanden has excelled in technical communications as a trainer, courseware developer, team leader, manager, and as a consultant for Publishing Smarter. Bernard is a professor at Seneca and Humber colleges, sitting on their advisory boards, and helping drive curriculum development. He has written many articles about publishing, and is an active partner with key developers of technical communications tools. Bernard also serves on the Board of Directors for the Society for Technical Communication.

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