Improved EDD file now in Structured Formatting course

Premise: The default EDD in FrameMaker is difficult to read:

  • excessive margins on all four sides of the page
  • it uses Times Roman. Serif fonts are great for reading printed material, and bad for reading on screens.
  • Everything is in black, rather than color coded, as in NotePad++ and even FrameMaker’s own Code View

Solution: Use an EDD file with modified formatting that solves these things to make it easier to navigate, create, and edit EDD files.

Spoiler alert 1: I just added a lecture to my EDD development course that makes it easy to make it easy to do just that.

See the video, and even some easy things you can do on your own to make EDD work more pleasant at

Spoiler alert 2: You get to see how it works, and even get the DIY tips, but the file downloads are reserved for my students.

Here’s some background info:

Structured FrameMaker template designers know that an Element Definition Document, or EDD is what you need to define and manage the elements that display in a structured document in FrameMaker’s Elements panel. (It would be fantastic, by the way, if the Elements panel were labeled Element Catalog, but that’s another topic… )

The EDD itself is actually controlled by its own content model, and when you dig under the hood, there’s an actual EDD that controls the elements used to define the parts of the EDD you’re familiar with.

Ok, before your head explodes, think of it this way: Since there’s an element catalog for elements like Element, Attribute, Value, ContextRule, etc. then you can modify that underlying structure model to change the display of an EDD on your monitor.

I had a project recently that gave me a chance to refine a default FrameMaker 2020 EDD content model, and it worked out perfectly for my project. I had less line breaks, didn’t have to fight the serif font faces, and the color coding and some other changes made identifying content in the document view more enjoyable.

Of course, there’s nothing keeping anyone from making the same modifications to any EDD from any version of FrameMaker, but if you’re a registered student in my Structured EDD Development course, you already have access to the finished file. Just use the link above to get to the lesson, and see the previous lecture to download the .fm files. Once open in FrameMaker 2020, you can immediately start creating an EDD just as you would with the default version of the EDD file.

You can also apply the changes I’ve made to your own EDD by using the File>Import>Element Definitions to import my EDD into your own EDD.

I hope you enjoy using the changes I’ve made to the workflow. If so, make sure to let Adobe know at by requesting these changes as a new feature for the next version of FrameMaker. Who knows…by this time next year, maybe we’ll all benefit from some of these changes in the next version of FrameMaker!

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1 Comment

  1. Forrest L. Barbee on October 10, 2021 at 1:49 pm

    I am currently working my way through a second pass in this course. The course flow and design are exceptional and right on target with everything I need to develop my EDD structured development proficiency! The EDD structured content file that Matt provided with this course is literally worth the price of admission. Everything about this course makes it a “grand slam” for online, guided learning that leads to outstanding results!!

    Thank you Matt!

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