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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
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
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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