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Whats New in Your FrameMaker Document?

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FrameMaker simplifies the task of comparing versions of a document. This article by Lisa Jahred shows you how to work with document compare features and understand the results.
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Do you work in an environment in which documents are modified often? If so, comparing different versions of the same document may be essential to the quality of your documents content.

When working with a group on a set of documents, it's common to save a document with a new name, and edit the new document rather then the original. Then the new document goes into the documentation queue for review/editing rounds, and the original stays stored. This process may be repeated each day, and you end up with several versions of the same document.

Managing multiple revisions of a document requires super organization skills and lots of patience. Even under the best circumstances, mistakes happen—for example, working on older versions.

In any case, you may need to compare versions of the same document from time to time to proof a revised copy against the original version, or just to examine addition/deletion changes for an overall look at the quality of those changes.

Performing this task manually can be daunting at best. Imagine if you had to lay each page down side-by-side and look for the changes?

FrameMaker simplifies this task for you. With document compare, you can easily view the differences at a glance or examine the changes without reading the entire document.

In this article, you discover how to work with FrameMaker's document compare feature, and understand the results. I focus on the following:

  • Overview of comparing two documents

  • How to compare two versions of a document

  • Understand the resulting summary and composite documents

Overview of Comparing Two Documents

Before I get into the details of how to compare two versions of a document, I provide you with an overview of what to expect when comparing two versions of a document.

The actual documents being compared remain intact after using document compare. Two additional documents are produced that enable you to either get a quick summary of revisions or a comprehensive look at revisions through a combination document.

The two documents produced with document compare are the following:

  • Composite document. Contains the common or identical information from both documents, and the additions and/or deletions from both documents. Additions and deletions in the composite document are shown side-by-side as conditional text, each with its own condition tag. You can either use the default condition tags and indicators, Inserted and Deleted, or you can specify your own.

  • Summary document. Includes a brief summary of each document's name and the number of changes from the combined documents, and a revision list indicating the revision and page number on which it occurs in the composite, newer, and older documents.

When using document compare, you have the option of creating both the summary and composite documents or just the summary document. Try each document type to find which provides you with the information you need.

What Document Elements Are Compared?

That's a good question! In addition to text, there are many other FrameMaker document elements that are compared using certain criteria. The following list shows you the document elements included in the document comparison:

  • Tables. When the number of rows and columns or straddled and rotated cells change, the entire table is marked as changed. You have to look at the anchor to see the condition indicator. Condition indicators do not appear in table rows or columns if an entire table has a condition tag applied. If those table elements remain intact, and only text in cells has changed, the text contains the condition tag. The "gotcha" is if text in cells has changed and you add a row or column, the entire table is marked as changed, not the text within a cell. The resulting composite document includes both tables, and you have to look at the text yourself to determine whether it has changed.

  • Anchored frames. The entire anchored frame is marked as changed if objects within that frame have changed or moved position.

  • Cross-references. A cross-reference is marked as changed if the cross-reference format name, source marker text, or pathname to an external source has changed.

  • Text insets. An entire text inset is marked as changed if the modification date, filename, relative pathnames of text insets, and method used to import the inset have changed.

  • Imported graphics. The line containing the anchored frame of a changed imported graphic gets marked as changed when imported graphics have changed dpi scaling, imported by copy, or reference; and if the object has been flipped or rotated. The graphic itself will not have a condition applied. The old and new anchored frame and contents appear in the composite document.

  • Equations. Equations are marked as changed when the equation size, location within its anchored frame, or math expressions have changed.

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