Re: PageMaker vs. Framemaker (those who've used both)

Subject: Re: PageMaker vs. Framemaker (those who've used both)
From: David Neeley <dbneeley -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 5 Oct 2004 13:37:48 -0500

In my opinion, PageMaker is particularly unsuited to projects that
require frequent edits and updates (such as documentation, for
instance). At a minimum, if you use it I suggest you have a good
version control system in place, whether a software system or a paper

InDesign has many very good features, and each update sees it adding
long doc features well beyond what its general reputation has it among
the tech writing population today. However, I agree that it is still
going to be a year or two before the bulk of these features are
available within InDesign. If Frame is continued as a product, I
suspect it will be totally revamped with the InDesign architecture
underneath. However, I consider it more likely that InDesign itself
will simply incorporate the various abilities most likely with some
additional filters for importing legacy Frame docs...analogous to what
they are doing with the product "InDesign PageMaker edition."

To establish a document base allows you great flexibility; to do it
wrong will in the end be extremely costly as standards change and move

In my view, you should seriously consider moving directly into
structured documents--probably one of the DocBook variants. This will
permit substantial reuse and flexible repurposing of the output as you

As much as I like Frame, unless you have the time and the interest to
learn it, I would seriously question whether you cannot get better
results with other tools. In addition, there is often a problem
between engineers and tech writers in settling upon a review process
because it is rare that the engineers would have Frame. Thus, you will
likely have to deal with issues of import and export of files--quite
likely in Rich Text Format. That is rarely a painless process, though.

(In this as in various other areas, I think Adobe long ago dropped the
ball--there should have been a "Frame Lite" out years ago that would
have been a cheap tool for those who create basic documents but not of
the finished variety a tech pubs department must produce. Too late
now, of course...)

Therefore, I would suggest that you begin not with the specific tools,
but with your optimal workflow and with the direction you see the
documentation base moving in the foreseeable future. As you do that,
specific challenges will soon become clear--like the methods for SME
feedback, for example, or how important reuse and version tracking may
be. Document storage and retrieval, too, becomes an issue that may be
fairly easily dealt with since you are virtually starting at the



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RE: PageMaker vs. Framemaker (those who've used both): From: Stephen Arrants

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