Revisiting Frame vs. Word in light of new capabilities

Subject: Revisiting Frame vs. Word in light of new capabilities
From: nandini111 -at- yahoo -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2005 00:18:26 -0700

Hello everyone!

Yes, I read the FAQs. Agonized before posting my first
message with so many responses. However, considering
most of the posts I saw were old, circa 1999,
with FrameMaker 5.5 compared to Word 97, let's visit
this again.

I need your help in convincing management to continue
to use the newly acquired FrameMaker 7.1 to which I
have transferred Word documents in English. The
question is whether to buy Frame for the Japanese
versions of the documents and pay for the software and
training of a translator who is used to translating
from Word. Using PDF is not acceptable. Using Frame
for English versions, and Word for Japanese is also
not acceptable. I will have to switch to Word, or the
Japanese translator to Frame. I will apprecieate your
feedback on the following:

Between Word 2000 and FrameMaker 7.1, which is better
for technical writers? I know the answer, but need to
convince some folks who have received the following
reasons to use Word (We use Word 2000, but may move to
Word 2003 if such regressive improvement on tools is

Reasons given for switching Word:

1. Word is popular. It means we can hire any
substitute if current one (tech writer/translator to
Japanese) is resigned or terminated.

2. Software is not expensive.

3. We do not worry about localization cost since ever
country uses Word and we can find some one to do the
work easy.

4. Functionalities are very much same today.

5. Word will be more powerful than FrameMaker in near
future. [Wow! Hurry up and buy the stock! Just

6. We have to spend a lot of time and money to convert
to Japanese for if we have to use FrameMaker.

The scenario/requirements:

* The manuals (currently 11) need to be frequently
updated (once every two to three months).

* Manuals range between 60 to 160 FrameMaker pages.
Six have common content, which only FrameMaker can
update with conditional text.

* Over 70 screen-shots in each document that need to
have repetitive numbered steps and slightly different
corresponding information. An excellent conditional
text and cross-reference play. Word does not support
conditional text and cross-references between
chapters, let alone between separate manuals. Has
anyone heard of such capabilities in the new
incarnation of Word? I checked a few articles, but
they do not talk about formatting the cross
references, or about going from one chapter to the

* TOC, TOF, Index (ouch! The Word documents have none)

* Complete overhaul of directions, which are in third
person passive tense (Format: "The user is required to
invoke the xyz screen by clicking on abc".)

* Stable formats (styles in Word)

* Output to clean HTML

* Output to XML (nice to have)

* Timeframe: 11 manuals: updated drafts from new
content within next 18 days. Final books with PDF in
12 days.

* Does Word support page numbering and automatic
updates of the book after deletion or addition of
pages and chapters? How about TOC, TOF, numbering of
figures, chapters?

* How well does the Publisher (or whatever it takes to
make a book with chapters and TOC, TOF, Index,
Glossary, and so on) function work (I hear you could
put chapters together, but when I tried to use it, I
gave up)?

* Does index work smoothly and efficiently?

Given these constraints and needs:

1. Is Word better for writing these documents, or

2. Would you switch from FrameMaker to Word?

3. Are there solutions to localization issue other
than switching to Word? Is FrameMaker better at
solving localization problems, or Word?

4. Does Word support Rubi (Japanese) text?

5. Is finding writers with FrameMaker skills so
difficult that a switch to Word is warranted?

6. Finally, the Ann Landers queston, are you better
off with Frame, or without it?

Thank you for all replies.

I found following rather old comparisons, which could
not convince the powers to be. I will really
appreciate comparison based on new capabilities of
Word and FrameMaker to be fair.



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