Word to DITA to PDF/HTML5 in about a half hour

Starting with FrameMaker 2020, if you have Word content that’s tagged with default styles, you can use a simple feature in the Structure menu to split your file into individual topics, wrap your content in valid DITA structure, and stitch everything together into a ditamap.

I’ve outlined the details below. To see a “live demo” of the process, you can register for the webinar recording (30 minutes of demo, plus 30 minutes of Q&A) at https://word-to-dita-framemaker.meetus.adobeevents.com/

In the webinar, and in this post, I’ll show you:

  • two separate ways you can structure content
  • two ways to manage your linked topics
  • two different default paths to producing PDF
  • two separate layouts (Indigo and Charcoal) for HTML5 output from the converted content

Use this form to receive the files I used in my presentation (ZIP includes the Word file, converted DITA, PDF, and HTML5 output).

Converting from Word to any structure model (the “old” way)

As far back as I remember (at least to FrameMaker v. 5.5) you’ve been able to convert your content into a structured document using a conversion table.

Example of a basic FrameMaker conversion table

This is great for structure models that rely on larger “chapter” documents, but a bit cumbersome for DITA, where topics chunked into many small pieces and then manually strung back together with a map.

When working with DITA, converting into topics and then reassembling them into a cohesive map can be tedious.

Get more detail on creating and applying conversion tables in my FrameMaker Structured EDD Development workbook, and my Formatting Structured Content in FrameMaker course.

Converting from Word directly into DITA with a ditamap

Thanks to the Adobe FrameMaker engineers, when your Word content makes use of the default paragraph and character styles (like Title and Heading 1), you’ve got an easy way to analyze and convert to DITA.

Use Structure>Utilities>Convert Word (.docx) to DITA to bring up a simple dialog.

Identify your source doc, specify an output path, and use the default mapping file to quickly create a valid ditamap that contains nested topics based on your use of Word heading styles.

If your Word doc doesn’t have default heading and other defaults properly applied, you can either apply them to your existing content, or with a bit of XML savvy, you can modify your mapping file to address the styles used in your content. Customizing the Style to Tag Map might be a good solution if you have more than a few dozen Word pages to convert.

To ditamap or book map…that is the question

While your ditamap is created automatically, you may want to publish your content as a traditional book. If so, you can save your ditamap as an Fm book with components, which automatically adds in things like TOC and IX.

Creating PDF from the Publish panel

In FrameMaker 2020, the Publish panel provides a faster, improved PDF engine. In fact, the Save As PDF function uses this engine to produce PDF, rather than the older workflow that relies on the Adobe PDF print driver and Acrobat Distiller.

PDF output settings available in the FrameMaker Publish panel

Producing PDF directly from the ditamap gives you a clean document that looks surprisingly like the original Word file you might have converted.

PDF from ditamap tends to preserve nesting of sections

Producing PDF from the Book Map includes the TOC and IX, as mentioned above, and creates new pages for the start of each topic.

Each topic in a book map creates a new page

The templates used to produce both the ditamap and the book map can be customized to match an organization’s branding.

Creating HTML5 from the Publish panel

Producing HTML5 from all manner of FrameMaker content has been solid and easily customizable for the past few versions of FrameMaker.

While you can produce HTML5 directly from both a ditamap or a book map, Oracle recently changed licensing for the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) used to produce HTML5 via the DITA Open Toolkit, so if you get an error while producing HTML5 from a ditamap you may need to (re)install the JRE prior to being able to output a ditamap to HTML5.

RoboHelp Frameless skins

FrameMaker 2020 provides the Charcoal, Azure, and Indigo HTML5 skins for output, and you can gain access to newer skins, including Orange and other frameless formats by linking or exporting to RoboHelp.

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