FrameMaker and track changes? (take II)

Subject: FrameMaker and track changes? (take II)
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 20 Nov 2003 10:45:28 -0500

Rakefet Zadik provided more details:

<<The problems with word are: 1. It crashed too much.>>

That's not a problem with Word--it's a problem with your operating system or
possibly with how you installed Word. Much though I love dissing Microsoft,
and many though Word's faults are, a lack of stability in Word has never
been a problem for me. I'd recommend doing a few things: First, hunt down
and kill all the temporary files created by Word. (These vary in location,
but you can find them by looking for files with the extension .tmp somewhere
on your C drive.) If that doesn't help, uninstall Word using the Add/Remove
programs utility. Then reinstall it and apply all the latest patches and
upgrades from the Microsoft Web site.

For that matter, consider reinstalling your operating system or even moving
to a newer version. I'm told by a few friends who are Windows experts that
you should seriously consider reinstalling Windows every couple of years
even if you don't upgrade so as to clean out the inevitable garbage that
collects (Word and Windows are both sloppy about removing unused temporary
files, and these are a frequent cause of crashes). At a minimum, make sure
you're running the most recent release of your operating system; initial
releases usually have their share of bugs and security holes.

If you never turn off your computer, that's another frequent cause of
problems: a network administrator whose opinion I trust claims that even as
late as Win2000, Windows was unable to run for more than about a week at a
time without crashing due to memory leaks and other accumulated errors. So
reboot daily and see if that helps. Of course, if you're getting the same
error message all the time, why not contact Microsoft tech support to ask
for suggestions?

Here are a couple things that can cause serious instability in Word: First,
using Master Documents. Unless you're Steve Hudson, don't even think of
trying. Second, check the settings for saving files: Open the Tools menu,
Select Options, then click the Save tab. Deselect "Enable Fast Saves" if
it's selected. If your documents have been saved using this bug (Microsoft
calls it a "feature"), they can quickly grow corrupted. The solution is to
disable fast saves, then for each document, select all the text except the
final paragraph marker, paste it into a new file, then save the file.

<<2. We have problems converting some of the files to pdf. It takes a long
time and we play a lot with the file until we succeed.>>

Are you using PDFWriter (a weak tool for creating PDFs) or the full Acrobat
Distiller? The latter is by far the better choice. Of course, if your
documents are screwed up to begin with (see above), Acrobat won't have any
more luck than you do trying to work with them.

<<3. We copy some of the stuff between two user guides and in many cases the
format changes in between.>>

That's actually a feature. By default, Word pastes "formatted text", which
means that anything you copy carries with it the formatting applied in the
other document. You can remove this formatting by selecting the pasted text
and pressing Control-Spacebar (the shortcut to remove manual formatting and
reapplies the paragraph style.) Another good solution would be to use the
same document styles in all your guides; that kind of consistency is
helpful, and is easy to enforce if you base all your manuals on the same

<<4. Some of our chapters a re 48 pages long. I read somewhere that after 50
pages Word doesn't always handle the files very well and we don't want to
fine ourselves in that situation.>>

Word can comfortably handle moderately complex documents of well over 500
pages according to several experts on techwr-l; I personally haven't used it
for fairly simple documents much longer than 300 pages, but have had no
stability problems at that length. Nonetheless, it's still more efficient to
break up large and complex files into separate chapters. They're easier to
work with, and in particular, easier to send to reviewers for review. Why
send them an entire book when you could instead send them just the chapter
that they're expert in?

<<Does this make enough sense to move to Frame?>>

Nope. Try solving the problems first, using some of my suggestions and any
others that you receive. Use Frame if it provides other advantages; for
example, it handles long and complex documents much better than Word.

--Geoff Hart, ghart -at- [delete]videotron -dot- ca
Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada
580 boul. St-Jean
Pointe-Claire, Que., H9R 3J9 Canada

“I have always wished that my computer would be as easy to use as my
telephone. My wish has come true. I no longer know how to use my
telephone.”--Bjarne Stroustrup (originator of C++ programming language)



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