RE: The Old Argument: FrameMaker vs. MS Word

Subject: RE: The Old Argument: FrameMaker vs. MS Word
From: Kevin McLauchlan <KMcLauchlan -at- chrysalis-its -dot- com>
To: "'Lane Pasut'" <Larissa -dot- Pasut -at- OmegaResearch -dot- com>, TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2000 16:19:08 -0500

I'm a multi-tasker because I *am* the department... :-)

However, even when we get big enough to support a
department of (as in somebody's example) five, I
believe I would go with four more jacks'n'jills,
rather than the specialists.

As soon as there's a DTP specialist, the writer must
spend a good deal of time interacting with the
specialist. If all I did was write straight text
with the odd heading and the odd <insert fig 9 here>,
then there'd be no problem. But, I like to make
side-bars and NOTE/WARNING/GOOD-TO-KNOW-INFO boxes
for background and explanatory stuff that belongs
near-but-not-in the main flow of text. So, if I'm
controlling where that stuff appears, and how it
appears -- which aspects tell me a lot about what
the content should be -- then I'm doing just about
as much DTP as gets done around here... or as needs
to get done. I, and any other writer in my group,
would be constantly doing part of the DTP specialist's
job, or in consultation/tug'o'war with said
specialist. Gimme Frame if I can, Word if I must. :-)

If I need fancy DTP or a major facelift (hey! I heard
that! you know I meant the docs...) I can hire an
insultant to set it up and then go away. The live-in
help and I can then use the new templates, or even
generate our own templates to match the new "look"...
because, hey, we can; we're not narrow specialists.

Now, about editing... hmm. I'm of two minds, there.
I'd LOVE to have a good editor -- somebody I could
trust to be a fount of editing knowledge, and to be
sharp of eye, and to stand up for principles and
for good writing. This person would also have to
be a good and patient, though exacting, teacher,
so that my writers would absorb much of that good

But then... if you've GOT at least two or three
well-seasoned writers with decent editing skills,
then THEY can impart to the juniors AND there's
always somebody around to do editing work,
even when some people (like the marvelous editor
of the previous paragraph) is away on vacation,
course/seminar, maternity leave, jury duty,
out-of-body projection, house-arrest...

Well, until my department numbers ten or more
(with workload to match, of course), I doubt I
could justify hiring somebody whose only job
was editing. I'll stick with a few good,
flexible writers who can make (and implement)
some basic layout decisions, and who can edit
each others' work and teach the juniors how to
do it all, as well... with me benevolently
overseeing, of course... :-)

And, anybody who wants to come in looking to
learn some of those skills and fit in, should
probably not call her/himself senior, or even
intermediate, on the basis of writing/research
skills alone.

Well then... the editor bit took me off topic,
but the DTP bit says: Gimme Frame.

Oops! There's more. If I could persuade this
place to go SGML, I could happily do most of
my writing with a text editor. But then, I'd
be spending chunks of time designing/refining
DTDs (after I learn how) over on FM+SGML and
sorting out layout issues ANYWAY.


Carry on.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Lane Pasut [mailto:Larissa -dot- Pasut -at- OmegaResearch -dot- com]
> Sent: Friday, January 21, 2000 11:51 AM
> Subject: RE: The Old Argument: FrameMaker vs. MS Word
> I agree, and contend that layout work extends beyond just
> visual appeal. The
> design/layout impacts comprehension, so that's my domain. I
> see the ability
> to layout/design a document as part and parcel of technical writing, a
> definite plus in your portfolio of skills... but then again,
> I am also one
> of those multi-taskers... my 2 cents thrown in.

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