Re: The Old Argument: FrameMaker vs. MS Word

Subject: Re: The Old Argument: FrameMaker vs. MS Word
From: Christine Pellar-Kosbar <chrispk -at- merit -dot- edu>
To: Mark Baker <mbaker -at- omnimark -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 20 Jan 2000 19:15:09 -0500

Here we go again. . .

Mark Baker wrote:

> Tony Rocco wrote
> > Does any tech writer in his or her right mind prefer MS Word to
> > FrameMaker???
> Absolutely.
> Word is a fine word processing tool. It is limited publishing tool.


> Frame is a powerful, if wonky, desktop publishing tool. It is a terrible
> word processor.

I'll buy that. I'm interested in which features you miss in Frame.

> I am a writer. I process words. I prefer Word.
> If you are still stuck in DTP land then you are probably stuck in Frame
> land, but let it be said load and clear:
> Technical writing is about writing. Technical writers should not be asked to
> do DTP. It is a waste of their time and their talent. Technical writers
> forced to do DTP spend more than half their time on layout and production
> tasks. These tasks should be performed by people with the proper aptitudes
> and skills. Writers should spend their time on research and writing.

I disagree. Page layout affects readability. If you control the layout, you
can produce a document in which the information is easier to access. It is
worth the time.

Accurate, clearly written documentation is useful, but only if the audience
members can find what they're looking for. If they can't find it, and fast, they
look for another method: ask a coworker, check on-line (which they might do
first), give up and make up some kludgey work-around. If someone else controls
the layout, your work can go to waste.

Also, when I was an editor, I noticed that different errors jumped off the page
in different layouts. If you control the layout, you can make sure you edit in
the final layout, which improves the final product.

Christine Pellar-Kosbar

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