Adobe FrameMaker

Translate with Across


Adobe FrameMaker is a professional technical documentation application that is often used to prepare and publish technical content.

Documents created with FrameMaker can be published in various output formats, e.g. in the form of PDF files, e-books, HTML, or mobile apps for various channels (e.g. for print media, the Internet, conventional desktop deployment, or mobile use).

FrameMaker is considered the market leader among authoring tools. Accordingly, FrameMaker documents also play a key role in the field of translation.

Unstructured vs. Structured FrameMaker Documents

Conventional FrameMaker documents are also referred to as "unstructured" FrameMaker documents. This expression must be understood in contrast to "structured" documents, which can also be created with FrameMaker.

The latter are subject to a defined data structure. Therefore, they are usually created in the form of XML or SGML files and are also translated as such (see description of XML ). The following information applies exclusively to unstructured FrameMaker documents.

The FrameMaker Formats FM and MIF

The standard format of Adobe FrameMaker for unstructured FrameMaker documents is FM. Usually, FrameMaker documents are prepared and processed in this format. By contrast, MIF is the exchange format of FrameMaker. The acronym MIF stands for Maker Interchange Format. Among other things, MIF is used as an exchange format in order to open FrameMaker documents in older FrameMaker versions or in other applications (from the field of technical documentation). Moreover, the MIF format is used for the translation of FrameMaker documents.

From the technical perspective, MIF is an ASCII-based format, i.e. it consists of plain text in ASCII encoding enriched with additional information. Therefore, MIF files can be opened and edited with a conventional text editor. By contrast, FM is a binary file format whose content cannot be edited with a text editor, but only with FrameMaker.

Other FrameMaker Formats

Apart from the FM and MIF formats, there are other FrameMaker-specific formats such as the book format. A book file joins several FrameMaker files to form one document. However, such a book does not contain the content of the individual FrameMaker files, but merely comprises references to these files and further basic information concerning the particular book. Therefore, book files are usually irrelevant to translation. FrameMaker files bundled in a book must therefore be converted and translated one by one.

Index files are special FrameMaker files in which indices, i.e. keyword or name registers, are stored. Their file name ends in SIX. Normally, these index files do not need to be translated either, as the indices are generated from the index entries contained in the actual FrameMaker files.

Creating MIF Files

To convert a conventional FrameMaker document in the FM format to the MIF exchange format, go to File Save As. Select "MIF" in the current version (e.g. "MIF 2017") and save the file under a file name of your choice. The resulting MIF file can now be checked in and translated with the Across Translator Edition.

First Steps

Before setting up a project, check what specific content the MIF document has.

Important: FrameMaker does not need to be installed on the local computer in order to translate FrameMaker documents in the MIF format in the Across Translator Edition. However, FrameMaker must be installed in order to open FrameMaker files, e.g. to convert an FM document into an MIF document, to generate a preview during the translation, or for the final review of the translated FrameMaker file. If no FrameMaker installation is on hand, it is therefore important to discuss this with the customer before starting with the translation, as this would mean that the customer's cooperation will be required for the successful completion of the translation project.

Tip: For a one-time translation project involving FrameMaker documents, a trial version of FrameMaker can be installed.

Besides regular text, FrameMaker documents usually contain additional elements, such as images and tables. Moreover, they may also contain more specific elements, such as different types of pages (body pages as well as master and reference pages), conditional text, cross-reference and numbering formats, as well as system and user variables.

The following aspects need to be taken into consideration when preparing and setting up a project:

PDF version of the source documents

For the translation of MIF files, it is usually beneficial to have the respective source documents in PDF format, e.g. in order to view any available images as well as the context of the source-language context. Therefore, it would be good to request the PDF version of the source documents from the customer before starting with the translation.

External sources for layout checks

If the layout of the translation is to be checked (a FrameMaker installation is required for this), content from external sources, such as referenced images, insets, etc. must be available locally to the person responsible for the layout check. If necessary, the external sources should therefore be requested from the customer prior to the translation.

Determining how FrameMaker-specific elements are to be processed

The way how the Across Translator Edition processes documents of a particular format is controlled by means of document settings templates. These can be found under Tools System SettingsDocument Settings. The templates for processing MIF files are located in the subsection "MIF 8-2017" for documents from FrameMaker version 8 or in "MIF 7" for older FrameMaker versions. Click Advanced to configure the processing of FrameMaker-specific elements with the help of various options.

With the default settings of the Across Translator Edition, user and system variables, the content of master pages, as well as numbering and cross-reference formats are extracted and can be translated. Cross-reference formats define the various types of cross-references of a FrameMaker document. If the cross-reference formats used in the FrameMaker document contain translatable text, they usually need to be translated.

By contrast, the content of reference pages is ignored by default and can therefore not be translated. Prior to the translation, check whether the default settings are in line with the individual needs. If not, adjust the options according to the respective requirements.

Removing certain control characters

By means of the corresponding options in the advanced settings of the document settings templates of MIF, you can determine whether special information is to be removed from MIF files during check-in. This comprises manual page, column, and line breaks, conditional hyphens, and information on the change bar.

As the length of the translation might be different from that of the source document, it might be good to remove any manual page, column, and line breaks as well as conditional hyphens from the source document. In FrameMaker, the change bar highlights changes in the document. If necessary, discuss with the customer whether this information is to be retained in the translation.

Processing conditional text

In FrameMaker, conditional text serves the input of text variants (e.g. for different output formats). By default, conditional text is extracted from MIF files and can thus be translated. However, conditional text can also be used for internal comments that are hidden prior to the output of the document. For such an application case, an option in the advanced settings of the document settings templates of MIF enables you to determine that hidden conditional text is to be ignored and not to be translated.

Translating MIF Files with the Across Translator Edition

Actually, there are only very few FrameMaker-specific issues that need to be taken into consideration when translating MIF documents.

Important: To generate a preview of MIF files, FrameMaker must be installed on the local computer (see also "First Steps"). The Across Translator Edition will automatically detect whether FrameMaker is installed on the local computer. When opening a translation task of a MIF file for the first time, simply confirm a message with Yes in order to use FrameMaker for previews.

Some of the FrameMaker-specific issues to be taken into consideration in the translation context:


In FrameMaker documents, there are some content types (e.g. conditional text, tables, image frames) that are displayed in the form of gray fields in the translation editor crossDesk. These gray fields are called "placeables". Placeables cannot be translated, but merely need to be transferred to the respective positions in the translation. The easiest way to do this is to double-click the respective placeable.

Special FrameMaker-specific elements

FrameMaker documents usually contain FrameMaker-specific elements. This includes user and system variables, the content of master and reference pages, numbering and cross-reference formats, as well as index entries. The procedure for translating these different types of content is always the same: It comprises the translation of the basic definitions of these elements and the transfer of the specific references to the translation. For example, when translating cross-references, it is necessary to translate the underlying cross-reference formats and the actual cross-references in the form of placeables.

In the translation editor crossDesk, the definitions of the FrameMaker-specific elements are grouped and can therefore be translated together.

Alternatively, the cross-references can be translated, and the underlying definition (i.e. the respective cross-reference format) can be accessed from there in order to translate it. For this, simply right-click the placeable in the translation and select the respective command (Go to cross-reference format definition).

Important: At this time, the translation must be stored, i.e. it must have the "touched" or "translated" status. Otherwise, the respective command will be grayed out. After translating the definition, you can click the "Last changed" icon to return to the actual translation.

Tipps & Tricks

Locking or hiding content

In the document settings templates of MIF, text can be locked or hidden on the basis of the paragraph or character styles used in the MIF file. The paragraph and character formats are similar to the styles in Word. In this way, you do not need to translate the respective content. To do so, go to Tools System SettingsDocument SettingsMIF 8-2007 or MIF 7 and click Load to load the formats of the MIF document to be translated. Via "Type", determine how the respective formats are to be handled (e.g. select "Hidden").

Final check and revision of the translation in FrameMaker

Upon completion of the translation and check-out of the translation from the Across Translator Edition, the translated MIF document should be opened in FrameMaker for a final review and any manual adjustments. If FrameMaker is not available, this task may need to be handled by the customer (see also "First Steps"). Points like the following should be checked and revised if necessary:

Updating indices

If the translated MIF document contains index entries, the respective index must be generated anew in FrameMaker. To do so, go to Add Standard Index, duly configure the index, and generate it.

Checking unresolved cross-references and insets

In FrameMaker, you can systematically search for unresolved cross-reference and insets (i.e. text or images inserted from external sources). In this context, the expression "unresolved" means that the cross-reference or inset cannot be updated because the target of the cross-references or the source of the inset is missing. To do so, open the "Cross-References" or "Insets" pod (via View Pods Cross-References or Insets). Unresolved cross-references or insets are marked with a red icon (instead of a green icon).

Using the error console

In FrameMaker, the error console can be used to check documents for errors. The check will find errors such as missing fonts. The error console can be displayed via View Pods Console.

Adaptation of language tags

The Across Translator Edition automatically adapts the tags that define the language of the document or of the respective section to the target language. Among other things, this information is important for the hyphenation and the spell-check. In the advanced settings of the document settings templates of MIF, you can determine that the adjustment is to take place in the entire MIF document or only in the translated sections.

Converting an MIF file into an FM file

After checking out a translated MIF document, it normally needs to be converted back into the original FM format. To do so, open the MIF document in FrameMaker, click File Save As, and save it in the FM format.