Re: Why RFEs don't work

Subject: Re: Why RFEs don't work
From: Dan Emory <danemory -at- primenet -dot- com>
To: "Thomas Michanek" <thomas -dot- michanek -at- telia -dot- com>, "Free Framers" <framers -at- omsys -dot- com>, "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2000 04:00:54 -0700

I am sending these excerpts of Thomas' post, with my comments,
to the TECHWR-L list as well as to Free Framers.
At 03:45 AM 6/27/00 +0200, Thomas Michanek wrote:

[ Feel free to forward this message to the FrameUsers
mailing list. Let me and others know if you do so. ]

A month ago, there was an interesting discussion on the FrameUsers
mailing list about Adobe's perceived lack of interest, marketing and
improvement of FrameMaker, especially considering the new 6.0 release.
Many long-time users took the opportunity to moan and groan...
As Thomas pointed out later (I've snipped it there and put it
here), the only reason there was a 6.0 release was that one
of the major license holders threatened to completely discontinue
use of all Adobe products if Adobe followed through with its plan
to put V5.5.6 in maintenance mode, where it would be allowed to die
a slow death.

It's my belief that future events (e.g., the possible break-up of Microsoft)
and new marketing opportunities (e.g., XML) might cause Adobe to
reassess it's apparent decision to let Frame products wither away.
But if such future possibilities could affect the outcome, we must find
ways to buy some time before Adobe drives in the final stake.
BUT, there were also voices raised that instead of complaining you
should continue sending in Requests For Enhancements (RFEs) to Adobe,
and stating them as business cases. The email address
framemaker-feedback -at- adobe -dot- com was mentioned for sending in comments.

I have used FrameMaker for more than 10 years. Over the years, there
has been repeated suggestions and requests for specific new or improved
features from the FrameMaker user community; all of them have been sent
in to Frame Technologies or Adobe. Some of these have become known as
FREs (Frequently Requested Enhancements); many of them have been
requested repeatedly for more than 5 years.

Nearly two years ago, I gave up my hopes and decided to try to do
something about it. I gathered about 40 professional, long-time users
to come up with a joint effort to influence Adobe and explain the
needs of the framers community. The discussions were held via a secret
mailing list in the strictest confidence, since people with strong
ties to Adobe and good knowledge of their inner workings were
participating. In the course of these discussions, especially in
private emails, I came to the following insights:
I was one of the 40, who also happened, at that time, to have
strong ties to Adobe, and I agree completely with Thomas' insights.
* Unless you have literally thousand(s) of licenses behind you, your
wishes and requests are virtually ignored by Adobe. This is not
necessarily a sign of Adobe's disrespect for their customers, but
simply a matter of listening more to the biggest license holders
(due to the dollar value of these licenses).

* If you work at such a big company, there is probably an individual
appointed to speak for your company to Adobe. Some of these meet
regularly with Adobe product management. Unless you let this person
forward your requests to Adobe, there's a risk they won't be regarded
as representing your company, and thus will be "ignored" (see above).

* Large license holders can fund features, known as "pre-purchasing"
licenses. These customers pay in advance for licenses, and in return
Adobe commits to implement the features they want. (This was much
more common during the Frame Technology time, but it still happens.)

Simply put, MONEY TALKS. No money, RFEs are treated politely at best.
You know of features you requested that were implemented? You can bet
that someone else requested them too, or even payed for them.
CONCLUSION: sending in RFEs to Adobe is a nice pastime, but don't
expect anything if you don't accompany them with lots of $$$.
I don't have any, so I simply continue to use and argue for my
favourite software. Whatever improvements I can think of, I either
keep them to myself, or implement them as a MIF script...
Thomas' contributions have been vital to the continuing
viability of Frame products.
What happened to the joint effort? Due to the wisdom gained, my own
enthusiasm cooled, and we had a hard time agreeing on what to do,
when and how, as well as finding the time to write down our requests.
A few months later, some of the people were approached by Adobe
attourneys for sharing confidential information, as the discussions
had leaked to Adobe... I understood that I could become involved in
this, so I took a secret mailing list archive and web page off-line.
Adobe took this seriously, apparently for a reason...
Lesson learned: you can't work this sort of effort out on-line; you
must meet in person and have the time to spend.
And several of us did a little detective work and tracked down, to
a virtual certainty, who the quisling was.
I'm not quite as pessimistic as Thomas is about the possibility
of influencing the outcome. Having been a political operative at the
local, state, and national levels for one of the major parties (including
a stint as a speech writer for the party's presidential nominee a
number of years ago), I know that the one misery politicians and
companies like Adobe can't endure is a relentless drum-beat
of focused public criticism by a well-organized and ever-widening

When such organized efforts begin, politicians and companies
react the same way: Stand pat. Hope the constituency has no
staying power, and will just fade away. So the first thing Adobe
must be convinced of is that we are effective, and aren't going
to relent. They must.

I think we can rally some of the major license holders to this
cause if we try.

| Nullius in Verba |
Dan Emory, Dan Emory & Associates
FrameMaker/FrameMaker+SGML Document Design & Database Publishing
Voice/Fax: 949-722-8971 E-Mail: danemory -at- primenet -dot- com
10044 Adams Ave. #208, Huntington Beach, CA 92646
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