Framemaker vs. Pagemakervs Word

Subject: Framemaker vs. Pagemakervs Word
From: "Scudder, Beth" <beth_scudder -at- retek -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2000 16:22:31 -0600

Okay, I'm REALLY not trying to start a holy war here. I'm just curious, and
a little frustrated, and trying to gather information so I can make a good,
convincing pitch to the Powers That Be when the time comes.

Our department produces software documentation that comes out in WinHelp,
print/PDFs, and HTML - the medium depends on the specific product we're
documenting. For WinHelp, we're using RoboHelp, and for all the rest, we're
using Word... or, for the HTML, Word and then DreamWeaver.

Now, I came from a situation where FrameMaker was the standard, and highly
respected, and I got pretty good with it and grew to become something of a
FrameMaker fanatic. What with all of the lovely little ...err... features
Word has, I am getting increasingly frustrated by the fact that I appear to
be stuck with it as a desktop publishing tool.

I mentioned FrameMaker once in a sort of off-hand manner to my boss, and she
laughed as though I'd just told a really good joke, although I don't know
what the joke was, or why they don't like Frame. It wasn't a situation in
which I could gracefully or easily ask what the problem was. Since I'm
newish at my job, I didn't want to make big waves, so I dropped the issue
and only mentioned it again today in passing-I said that I looked forward to
the day when we might use some word processor and desktop publisher other
than Word. This time, she only smiled and chuckled a little. Again, alas, a
situation not conducive to questioning the reasoning behind this attitude.

It's kind of well-known in this department that one should keep one's mouth
shut about FrameMaker ("Oh, don't mention Frame to the boss", said a senior
department member to an interviewee), and I gather part of the reason is
because we do use RoboHelp, which only (?) works with Word. I can see this
as a compelling reason for keeping Word, but not as a compelling reason for
*not* using some other desktop publishing program - FrameMaker, Interleaf,
PageMaker, Ventura - for the other media in which we work.

Has anyone else been in a situation like this? Can anyone verify or deny
that there is *no* other program, other than Word, that works with RoboHelp?
Is there any hope for change in this situation on the horizon?

I'm looking for good arguments to change from Word to something else, or
just to add something else *to* Word. It looks like the second possibility
is stronger.

If it helps, I'm the editor in this department, and my primary concern is
with templates and the facility with which they appear to be corrupted in
Word.

Please, let's try to keep this from becoming a flame/holy war. I know that
Word has its positive side (among others, that lots of people know it, and
that it works well within its original parameters, and that it incorporates
a lot of features and a fair amount of flexibility). However, I really feel
that the print/PDF manuals we produce, which are hundreds of pages long and
rather complex, would be much easier to produce and update in FrameMaker, or
some comparable program, than they are in Word.

Any help is appreciated.

--Beth Scudder




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