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Migrating Unstructured Adobe FrameMaker Content to DITA

28 Oct 2022
Read time: 11 minute(s)

This article explores ways to convert unstructured FrameMaker documents to a DITA XML project.

Using a FrameMaker Plugin

There is a FrameMaker plugin that can be used for this type of conversion: http://leximation.com/tools/info/fm2dita.php.

Using FrameMaker Conversion Table

FrameMaker has a "Conversion Table" feature that can be used for this type of conversion: https://help.adobe.com/en_US/framemaker/using/using-framemaker/user-guide/WSB3FD6CD7-6930-474f-BB1E-64762D105DB6_ver12.0.html.

Unstructured FrameMaker to HTML to DITA

To perform this migration, your documents must be in the ".mif" format.

If your documents are in the '.fm' format, you can use the MIF Wash Utility to convert your book into a .mif document: https://helpx.adobe.com/framemaker/kb/how-to-use-mifwash-utility-in-framemaker.html.

The 'mif' document must go through the following conversion and correction steps to obtain DITA content:
Publish Your Unstructured FrameMaker to HTML
In this step, the mif document is converted to HTML using the Basic HTML scenario from FrameMaker. Here are the substeps:
  1. Create a settings file for publishing that contains mappings to HTML elements for all paragraph and character styles:

    It's very important to have mappings to HTML heading elements for paragraph styles that mark headings in your document. In the example above, the "Chapter", "Heading", and "Title" styles are mapped to the "h1" element, the "Subtitle" and "Section" styles to the 'h2' element, and the "Subsection" style to the 'h3' element.

    The styles set on the list should be mapped to the 'li' elements. In the example, it's the "Bullet", "Step", and "Step1" styles.

    The paragraph styles without mapping are converted to HTML paragraphs, so you can skip the ones where the mapping is not necessary. The "Body", "CellBody", and "CellHeading" styles don't have a mapping in the example above.

  2. Publish the 'mif' document to HTML using Basic HTML:

This should result in an '.htm' document located in the output directory:

Correct the Resulting HTML Using a Custom Refactoring Operation
The HTML document that results from publishing requires some extra processing before applying the DITA conversion.
For this, do the following:
  1. Download the content from the following GitHub repository: https://github.com/oxygenxml/dita-refactoring-examples.
  2. Copy the correctHtmlFromMif.xml and correctHtmlFromMif.xsl files from the "43. FM conversion fixes" directory in one of the locations that Oxygen scans when loading the custom refactoring operations: https://www.oxygenxml.com/doc/ug-editor/topics/sharing-custom-refactoring-operations.html.
  3. Restart Oxygen.
  4. Add the output directory that contains the HTML file to your project.
  5. In the Project view, right-click the HTML file, and invoke the Refactoring> XML Refactoring action.
  6. In the resulting dialog box, search for the operation named Correct HTML resulting from 'mif' and apply it to the HTML document.
The applied refactoring operation corrects two problems in the HTML document:
  • The list items without a parent element ('ol' or 'ul').
  • Targets of the cross references that have the "name" attributes from anchor elements instead of the "id" attributes.
Convert HTML to DITA Using the Oxygen Batch Documents Converter Add-on
The Batch Documents Converter add-on has to be installed in Oxygen for this step. Follow the installation procedure here.
Before converting the document, you should configure which headings are handled as topics or sections. For this, use the Maximum Heading Level for Creating Topics options from the add-on's preferences page.
For converting the document, do the following:
  1. Right-click the HTML document in the Project view and invoke the "HTML to DITA" option from the Batch Documents Converter submenu.
  2. In the resulting dialog box, make sure that the Ignore HTML 'div' elements option is selected (because this element is not useful in the output) and that the Create DITA maps from HTML documents containing multiple headings option is also selected:
  3. Click the Convert button.
The resulting DITA map preserves the structure of the document, images, tables, and internal and external links:

Note that migration from proprietary formats to XML is never perfect and manual changes need to be made. The names of the original styles are preserved on the @ouputclass attributes and these can be used for adding extra processing using refactoring operations.

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