InDesign as a FrameMaker substitute?

Subject: InDesign as a FrameMaker substitute?
From: laurel -at- smartacus -dot- org
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 15 Aug 2005 17:10:37 -0600

Hello, techwrlers!

My current client was previously without a tech writer for six months,
during which they converted all their technical documentation from
FrameMaker to InDesign because no one else at the company knew how to use

I've been asked to evaluate InDesign and, if appropriate, make a case for
switching back to FrameMaker. There's a lot of resistance to this idea.
Marketers and project managers all want the ability to edit technical
guides directly without having to learn FrameMaker. They're all fluent
with InDesign and believe it's a good tool for authoring and maintaining
technical guides.

I myself have no experience with InDesign and so have been browsing for
existing comparisons. So far, InDesign doesn't look too promising. Below
is my list of major points against InDesign as a technical writing tool,
compiled from various online sources, including the techwr-l list.

- lack of automatic page addition while typing
- lack of cross-references
- lack of conditional text
- inability to search for styles, figures, or tables
- lack of automatic renumbering for numbered lists with intervening
unnumbered paragraphs
- lack of user variables
- no global updates for updated style definitions

Can anyone add to this list or correct/comment on the items? Would anyone
like to advocate InDesign as a tech writing tool?

Thanks for your help!




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