RE: FrameMaker vs. the competition

Subject: RE: FrameMaker vs. the competition
From: "Brierley, Sean" <Sean -at- Quodata -dot- Com>
To: "'Hiers James T Contr 419 FLTS/DOAN'" <james -dot- hiers -at- edwards -dot- af -dot- mil>, TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2000 09:36:21 -0500

Hallo:

-----Original Message-----
From: Hiers James T Contr 419 FLTS/DOAN
[SMTP:james -dot- hiers -at- edwards -dot- af -dot- mil]

Our publications department is attempting to standardize under one,
possibly
two, documentation programs,

* Ease of use -- company can't afford classes for everyone

Your company wants your writers to learn a more efficient tool than the tool
you currently use but is not willing to train you to use it? I recommend you
stick with what you've got, at least you are familiar with that.

As for FrameMaker, you can cut and paste Word documents and Word text just
fine into FrameMaker. FrameMaker's filter is a tad slow, but if you are
using word consistently, with styles, and avoiding localised, spot,
customizations throughout the Word document, then the import should be fine.
I don't know about bringing Excel into FrameMaker, though. My gut says
convert the Excel into tab-delimited ASCII, import it, and then apply a
FrameMaker table style to it . . .. I have imported Excel tables as OLE
objects, which works well.

PDF is really not an issue in choosing between the packages you mention. All
support PDF, even Word (with PDFMaker 1.0 from Adobe). You will need to
pickup Adobe's full Acrobat suite. FrameMaker does go to PDF pretty
seamlessly, though.

So, Word v Interleaf v Ventura v FrameMaker. My choice is FrameMaker but,
again, if your company wants to switch tools without training, stay where
you are. No point in switching tools and then getting blamed because
productivity drops as you learn the new tool and because you don't know all
the nuances of the new tool. Sure, you can teach yourself . . . in 10 times
the number of hours it would take for you to attend a class . . . and your
productivity is shot in the meantime. What do I mean? Imagine you are new to
a company and they throw Word at you but provide no training. Not only are
you required to get up and running with index and TOC creation, and
importing graphics, but you are required to learn to use Word macros, as
well as master docs and prepare the Word doc for output to an offset press .
. with color?

Ventura is feature packed and less expensive than FrameMaker. My experience
is that Ventura is a capable program with a history of being extremely
buggy. My productivity suffered for these bugs. However, Ventura is vastly
superior to Word. I have not used Interleaf, though I continue to hear good
things about the product. Checkout the price, service, and support. I almost
bought into Interleaf three years back, but was put off by a particularly
un-knowledgeable sales experience, which made me wonder about the knowledge
and experience that was going into the product (despite Interleaf's long
history in this market). FrameMaker, I believe, walks in sensible shoes
between Ventura and Interleaf. Certainly, if you want a cross-platform
product, or Japanese-language support, FrameMaker is a solid choice. When
writing for Europe and Asia, I found FrameMaker to be more readily
accessible in those markets than either Ventura or Interleaf (but not nearly
as accessible as Word). FrameMaker does not have some of Ventura's glitter,
but then it has the advantage, in my experience, of being more robust and
permitting more efficient production of books. I found I was routinely
slapping my monitor, when using Ventura <g>. As far as I can tell,
FrameMaker has the advantage over Interleaf of price and more widely
accessible support.

Best regards,

Sean
sean -at- quodata -dot- com




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