Re: Manuals in InDesign

Subject: Re: Manuals in InDesign
From: David Neeley <dbneeley -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 16 Aug 2005 10:49:09 -0500


In my opinion, Word is an excellent word processor but not
"professional grade publishing software".

It is simply used by many companies in the belief that there should be
a common tool to support throughout their organization. Few publishing
pros would use it by choice, unless Word is all they know.

For example, you are not likely to find a book publisher using Word,
or a magazine publisher or any number of other publishing

It is a pity that Frame is still, at this point, the most capable
technical documentation program around *if* your needs include printed
manuals or .pdf as primary output, I believe. Once the learning curve
begins to flatten a bit for any author, Frame makes many things
trivially easy that are difficult or impossible in other common tools.
Autonumbering and long book building, for example, remain nonpareil
(can we say "Master Document" without either a painful grimace or a

In my opinion, however, the real shift in authoring tools will remain
toward capable XML editors that may not be so capable in paper
publishing as Frame but that include additional XML capability. I am
presently learning Oxygen XML Editor, and thus far I am very impressed
with it and the capabilities it brings to the table. Its price is low
enough that it should prove no barrier to adoption, and the built-in
capability to do XSL transforms gives flexible power to publish to any
of a variety of output formats.

The difference in the approach of an editor such as Oxygen and the XML
abilities of Frame is primarily that Frame insulates the author from
the XML, so long as he or she does not have to create a Frame EDD. At
the same time, though, many capabilities of XML tools are lacking and
must be employed outside the Frame environment.

Since I also believe strongly that issues of formatting should not be
in the hands of the typical tech writer--instead, decoupling the "font
juggling" from the content creation process for increased efficiency
in both--I should say that my orientation in this may be clouding my
judgement. At the same time, though, I am also extremely fond of the
presentation issues such as truly good typography (which is impossible
to get with Word, in most cases). I simply believe that the
inconsistency that results from multiple authors touching the
documents and the level to which layout issues subtract from time
available for content are both strong reasons for this sort of

It could be that as InDesign gains additional XML abilities that it
could be a very good vehicle for formatting XML documents that are
authored elsewhere--perhaps in Word, in fact, as its own XML abilities
continue to increase.


On 8/16/05, Nuckols, Kenneth M <Kenneth -dot- Nuckols -at- mybrighthouse -dot- com> wrote:

> Also, as I stated previously, when I first saw the literature for
> Creative Suite while working at a previous employer, Adobe strongly
> implied that eventually both PageMaker and FrameMaker would be absorbed
> into InDesign and that would be the single page layout solution they
> would offer to compete with Word, Quark, and other professional-grade
> publishing software.


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RE: Manuals in InDesign: From: Nuckols, Kenneth M

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