Re: InDesign as a FrameMaker substitute?

Subject: Re: InDesign as a FrameMaker substitute?
From: Peter Gold <peter -at- knowhowpro -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 16 Aug 2005 10:16:55 -0500

Hi, Laurel:

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.

- lack of automatic page addition while typing

It's possible to define a design that works as you'd expect. It's also possible to use InCopy as a text/story creation tool that respects InDesign layouts, and feeds into InDesign, as a managed (version controlled) or unmanaged process.

- lack of cross-references

Some scripting solutions exist.

- lack of conditional text

It's possible to show/hide layers.

- inability to search for styles, figures, or tables

Can search for styles; if figures and tables are anchored into styled paragraphs, you can search for the styles.

- lack of automatic renumbering for numbered lists with intervening
unnumbered paragraphs

Some scripted solutions exist.

- lack of user variables

Some scripted solutions

- no global updates for updated style definitions

Synchronize styles with book features, or import/load styles from other files.

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

You might want to make the case based on the volume of material that needs to be developed and maintained, and the time/cost etc.

FM can export XML or RTF which ID can import, so the marketing materials can be reused and repurposed with no major rekeying.

If your company has a large volume of material and many writers, you might want to look into an XML solution, for which there are tools and methods that work with conditions and variables.

Probably the simplest approach in a smaller organization would be to return to FM. Although FM doesn't import ID, you can export RTF and many other formats from ID and import that into FM, to restore the old FM workflow, and outline a new plan to share content.


Peter Gold
KnowHow ProServices

Thanks for your help!




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