Re: Influencing Adobe on FrameMaker

Subject: Re: Influencing Adobe on FrameMaker
From: Dan Emory <danemory -at- primenet -dot- com>
To: HALL Bill <bill -dot- hall -at- tenix -dot- com>, Larry Kollar <Larry -dot- Kollar -at- arris-i -dot- com>, "Thomas Michanek" <thomas -dot- michanek -at- telia -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 30 Jun 2000 11:30:21 -0700

Bill Hall and Larry Kollar suggest that the answer is to give up on trying to save FrameMaker, accept XML as the universal iinformation interchange format, and simply find a suitable replacement for FrameMaker. But that doesn't work for companies that have huge libraries of legacy FrameMaker documents. For such companies, the costs of reliably converting those unstructured docs to XML, SGML, or some other format would be prohibitively high. Some companies are already confronting this problem as a result of the abandonment of most flavors of Unix in FM V6.0, although there is at least a migration path (even though difficult) to some other supported platform.

The cavalier way in which Adobe has been abandoning support for Unix platforms without advance warning is unconscionable. Versioin 6.0, the first major release in 4 years, was a vast disappointment. It is almost certainly the final release before Adobe puts FrameMaker into maintenance mode where it will be left to die. After all, the FrameMaker code is already more than 12 years old, and I'm sure much of it is spaghetti by now.

The real question, then, is whether it is possible to sustain the viability of FrameMaker /FM+SGML (and thus maintain most of the installed base) for a number of years after Adobe abandons it.

I know of at least one company (and there are probably other major license holders) which have binding commitments that entitle them to the source code if FrameMaker is ever discontinued. It might be possible for outside developers to get hold of that source code.

Products like FrameScript are capable of overcoming many of the product's deficiencies, and, as more people use it, a whole panoply of scripts may become available to the installed base. Also, third-party developers may be more tempted to develop new enhancements and add-ons to FrameMaker if they knew that Adobe is not going to produce any more new releases that might wipe out their products. In fact, companies like Finite Matters, Omni Systems, Blueberry, Frank Stearns, Qudralay, and others may be strongly motivated to provide new products in an effort to extend the viability of FrameMaker/FM+SGML, and thus preserve their own installed base of users of their products

I can think of several products that might offer lucrative opportunities for 3rd-party developers. Here are two of them:

1. A Unicode-to-Frame-Character-Set converter that would preserve foreign-language text when converting from Word 2000 to FrameMaker.

2. An XML-to-SGML Converter that would allow XML documents to be imported as SGML documents into FM+SGML. This should be possible using XSL transformations, but there may be better ways to do it. Since FM+SGML can't handle Unicode, the conversion process requires that upper-ASCII characters
(and some others) be converted to entity references.

I'm sure that many of you could identify other needed enhancement products.

It might even be possible for the Frame user community to develop what amounts to functional specs for such enhancement products, and literally put them out for bid to third-party developers. If a respondent stated that he'd be willing to produce the product at a price of X dollars if he could get firm advance commitments for X number of licenses, it might be possible to set up a process for accomplishing all of this.

| 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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