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FrameMaker 10: how to start customizing the default DITA templates

by Wim on March 4th, 2012

In FrameMaker 10 DITA support is fully implemented. If you create a new DITA topic, or open an existing DITA topic, the default templates are used. Note that customizing the templates only concern formatting, not DITA structure. If you work with DITA you should never change DTD’s or change the default (valid) structure to get a customized look and feel. If you only want to edit DITA content and don’t bother about formatting, the default DITA application should work fine.

In case you want to change the look and feel of the topics for publishing you can change the templates to match your company style. There are two ways to do that:

  • create a new structured application by copying the default DITA application files, or
  • adapt the default DITA application files.

In both cases, all you should change are the FrameMaker templates (and in some cases rules files, XSLT) and not the DTD’s. Unless you’re DITA system uses specialization: then you should add those specialization DTD’s using the ‘DITA — DITA Specialization…’ menu.

The default DITA topic templates are in the folder …\AdobeFrameMaker10\Structure\xml\DITA_1.2\app\technicalContent . Note that there are separate templates for each topic type.

In your structapps file, the templates are referenced using the ‘DITA_1.2_Path’ variable (default: $STRUCTDIR\xml\DITA_1.2\app)

Best approach is to relocate the default templates:

  • copy the folder with DITA templates to another location where you have sufficient rights to edit the files (and share if needed).
    : copy the complete ‘…/app’ folder.
  • Open the structured applications file (StructureTools –> Edit Application Definitions) and change the ‘DITA_1.2_Path’ variable to point to the new location.
  • Save your structapps file and restart FM.

Now you can start modifying the templates, in the folder you just created:  xxx\…\DITA_1.2\app\technicalContent\template.
Change page lay outs, table formats, existing paragraph and character formats to match your style, but don’t change the format names or create new ones just like that. Most format names are referenced in the EDD rules. Changing format names implies also making changes to the EDD rules.

To make changes to the EDD rules:

  • take the template you want to edit
  • choose menu ‘StructureTools – Export Element Catalog as EDD’ and save this EDD in the same folder as the template.

Now you can modify this EDD.

Don’t forget to import each change back into in the template!

You can test changes on an open document by importing the EDD definitions (File—Import—Element Definitions…) into that document before updating the template.


From → FrameMaker, iDTP

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