Re: FrameMaker - Hours to Learn?

Subject: Re: FrameMaker - Hours to Learn?
From: Hedley Finger <hedley -dot- finger -at- ericsson -dot- com -dot- au>
To: Free Framers <framers -at- omsys -dot- com>, techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Tue, 07 Mar 2000 13:40:48 +1100


On the TECHWR-L list, Elna Tymes [etymes -at- lts -dot- com] answered this query:

> > How many hours of study & hands-on does it take to learn FrameMaker?
>
> Depends. When we were running our internship program two years ago, we taught
> Frame as part of the required skillset. We found that, if people knew Word (and
> they had to know at least one word processor in order to qualify as an intern) they
> could learn Frame over the course of a week, while working on other projects. If
> they only knew the basics about Word, without how to use templates and how to apply
> or change styles, it took longer to learn Frame. Obviously. If they were fairly
> skilled at Word, they learned Frame in a day or two.
>

How hard FrameMaker is to learn depends on the type of user.

If a TYPOGRAPHER or DESIGNER, two or three months to become proficient
at understanding and working with the various dependencies and side
effects.

If a WRITER or TECHNICAL ILLUSTRATOR, that is, content developers, about
two hours. The notion of catalogues of paragraph, character,
cross-reference, variable, and table formats is quickly grasped. The
notion of focus -- page background, frame, or text -- is harder. You
can also improve learning by displaying only the reduced menu set for
these users: View > Menus > Quick.

I have in the past few years advocated that template design should be
owned by a guru with good book design skills to produce sets of book
templates accompanied by a quick reference card explaining the correct
use of formats. The templates should also contain placeholders for
common elements where chapters have a definite structure to be followed
by all developers: for example, ChapterTitle, Abstract, ChapterTOC,
SectionHead, SubSectionHead, TextHead, Notes, or whatever.

The template owner should also own the final steps of copy-editing,
indexing, cross-referencing, book-building (including ToC, LoF, LoT),
and print production to ensure conformity to templates and consistent
style.

This division of responsibility reduces training and labour costs, and
overcomes the problems of working with content developers whose first
responsibility is some other task, such as programming or testing, and
improves documentation quality.

[FrameMaker 5.5.6, Acrobat 3.02, Windows 98, HP OmniBook 2100]

Regards,
Hedley Finger Technical Writer


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Ericsson Australia Pty Ltd
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Email. hedley -dot- finger -at- ericsson -dot- com -dot- au

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