Quark vs. FrameMaker ... today?

Subject: Quark vs. FrameMaker ... today?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 27 Jun 2002 09:25:35 -0400

Geoff Brown reports: <<A book publishing client wants to buy Quark and an
Xtension called Autopage that's supposed to handle long docs smoothly. I
know FrameMaker can do the job he wants done, but he believes FrameMaker's
days are numbered and Quark is the way to go - and he likes the other things
Quark has to offer. Can anyone offer any wisdom? Has Quark made up the

Caveat: I don't use either Quark or Frame, but I do try to keep up on the
technology. That being said:

There's no question that either tool can do the job adequately. Quark has
always been able to handle long documents reasonably well, and from what
I've read, has third-party tools available that beat anything from Frame for
managing workflow. Software such as p.Ink lets you automate the entire
editorial and design process for publishing large daily newspapers,
something you'd kill yourself trying to do in Frame. Most graphic designers
now use it for projects ranging from 1-page flyers to thousand-page books.
Quark also has more pure graphical power if you're into serious design work.
Unfortunately, the company (not the software) also has the shameful
reputation of being the most user-hostile company in the software business,
and that's not a small consideration.

The fact that I've never met a techwhirler (in nearly 20 years of this work)
who uses Quark for manuals* tells me something: Frame has all the tools you
need to do the work, plus certain tools such as WebWorks Publisher and
Frame+SGML that simply aren't available for Quark. Plus, Word
notwithstanding, Frame is the de facto standard for long-document publishing
in the technical communication biz, and that means you've got a large and
well-informed support community when you run into problems unique to our
line of work. One minor problem is that the software is considerably less
well known than Quark at service bureaus, so you may have a bit more
difficulty troubleshooting film productoin. But you can generally find a
competent print shop with a little searching.

* I ought to be getting a note any second now from the dozen who do. <g>

So the question then becomes: What kinds of books is your client intending
to publish? Quark offers enormous design flexibility (think "Swiss Army
knife"), but Frame is more like the one-trick pony who does its trick very
well indeed.

<<and is FrameMaker really soon to be obsolete?>>

Not a chance. First, Adobe has publically renewed its commitment to the
product. Second, the practical definition of "obsolete" is "no longer able
to do the job". Frame is sufficiently evolved that even if they don't
upgrade it for the next 10 years, it'll still be amply capable of doing the
kind of work we do. More to the point, Adobe gets its money in a mature
market from selling new releases, not from selling new copies; that means
you can count on periodic upgrades that either add new features nobody new
they needed before, or that make existing features work better.

--Geoff Hart, geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada
580 boul. St-Jean
Pointe-Claire, Que., H9R 3J9 Canada
"User's advocate" online monthly at
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