Thursday, May 08, 2014

Oxygen Authoring Tips and Tricks

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When I started writing on the Oxygen XML Blog, back in 2013 I wanted to have my first blog post about Oxygen Tips and Tricks but I somehow never got around to it. Now the time has come.
These are a few of the minor (and sometimes hidden) features which might bring significant usability features when editing in the visual Author editing mode:
  1. [General Editing]: Triple click to select. Triple click the text content of a certain XML element to select the entire element. Afterwards you can easily cut/copy or move it.
  2. [General Editing]: Move up and down to re-arrange content. Use the [Alt-UP] and [Alt-Down] keyboard shortcuts to move paragraphs, list items or any other kind of block like elements up or down in the parent container.
  3. [General Editing]: Code Templates. In the Oxygen Preferences->Editor / Templates / Code Templates page you can define code templates for inserting small and often used pieces of XML inside the XML document (either in the Text or in the Author editing modes). A code template can have inside it a wide selection of editor variables among which the special ${caret} and ${selection} editor variables which allow you to define where the caret will be placed after the template is inserted and how the existing selection will be placed in the newly inserted XML fragment.
  4. [General Editing]: Symbols toolbar. Go to the Window menu->Configure Toolbars... and show the Symbols toolbar in order to define and easily insert a set of most used character symbols.
  5. [General Editing]: Middle mouse button click to close editor tab. Click using the middle mouse button on an opened editor's tab to close it.
  6. [General Editing]: Edit Attributes in-place. Use ALT-ENTER to show the in-place attributes editing dialog and avoid using the Attributes view to modify or add/remove a new attribute.
  7. [DITA/Docbook/TEI/XHTML]: Copy/paste resources to create links. Copy a resource (XML file, binary/image file) in the Project view or in the DITA Maps Manager view or in the operating system's file system browser (Windows Explorer on Windows or Finder on Mac OSX) and then paste it in an XML document opened in the Author visual editing mode in Oxygen. A proper link (or image reference if it is the case) to that resource will be inserted. The same functionality applies to drag and drop.
  8. [DITA/Docbook/TEI/XHTML]: Convert content on paste (Smart paste). Paste content from an office application (MS Office, Libre or Open Office), a web browser or from a spreadsheet (Excel, Calc) and then paste it inside an XML document opened in Oxygen in the Author visual editing mode. The content will be converted to the proper target XML vocabulary and inserted inside.
  9. [DITA]: Paste as link/keyref or as content (key) reference. Assign an ID to an XML element from a DITA topic. Select and copy that element. Then open the referencing topic, right click inside and look in the Paste special menu.
  10. [DITA]: Use Subject Scheme Maps to control attribute values. You can control profiling attributes (and any other kind of attribute) values by associating a Subject Scheme Map to the DITA Map you are editing. More details... Video demonstration...
Off the top of my head, these are the tips I can up with so far. Do you have any other features that you've discovered and use daily when editing with Oxygen?


  1. [General Editing] Change the refactor scope to entire topic. You can quickly clean up a topic that was marked up incorrectly with this feature. The single-element refactoring is great, but being able to expand the scope is excellent. This is real handy when you have to retag a task that has b tags everywhere.

    1. Anonymous11:51 AM

      Hi Bill, I agree, great feature! Which reminds me...

      Hi Radu, something I haven't seen is the ability to tag several *untagged* selections. For example, if I use the Ctrl key to select the same untagged phrase in 7 different paragraphs, or if I use the Find/Replace to select the same 7 untagged phrases, I'd like the ability to refactor them with the uicontrol tag for all 7 instances. That would be great. P.S. Thanks for your reply below. :)

    2. Hi Jay,

      In the Author visual editing mode you could select the first occurrence of the word, right click and choose "Refactoring->Surround with Tags...".
      Then you can use the F3 keyboard shortcut to find the next occurrence of the word and use "Ctrl+SLASH" keyboard shortcut to surround the selection with the last used tag.

      Or you could switch to the Text editing mode, use Find All to find all matches and on one of the highlighted matches right click, "Manage Highlighted Content" and choose "Surround All".

      What we could do in a future version would be that when you press ENTER in the Author visual editing mode and you have multiple selected regions, to wrap all those text regions in the element selected by the user.

  2. Anonymous5:26 AM

    Thanks Radu! If you don't mind, I'd like to add this link to the bottom of my recent blog post. :)

    1. Sure, no problem, nothing private about it.

  3. Anonymous6:54 PM

    Thanks for the useful tips! I cannot get the Option+Up Arrow or Option+Down Arrow (to reorder topics in a map) on my MacBook Pro. Could you share any information about this?

    1. The shortcuts to re-order topics in a DITA Map on Mac OSX are "Alt-Up" and "Alt-Down".