Re: InDesign not a Frame substitute

Subject: Re: InDesign not a Frame substitute
From: David Neeley <dbneeley -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 17 Aug 2005 21:54:06 -0500


In my view, Adobe dropped the ball long ago by not producing a
Frame-compatible but more lightweight version that could be sold
cheaply for engineers and others who need to review documents and
write simple engineering docs and the like. If they had done this in a
timely fashion (before Word became quite so entrenched), they would
absolutely *own* the documentation market today, not merely be the
leading doc application but with declining new-adopter penetration.

I believe that several things need to happen that fortunately aren't
necessarily all that difficult:

1) Create a much better Word import/export tool. If they use the code base for this tool, it could be a stand-alone that
would convert between Word .doc and .rtf and .mif--and back again.
Since Word integration is light-years ahead of Frame's,
this could even be a free tool--and the .mif conversion code could be
offered to the developers, too, to extend its
import/export capabilities to Frame's .mif. This should be very
doable, considering that .mif is an open format previously published
by Adobe.

2) For the point upgrade, make a gesture to the community by fixing a
few of the persistant bugs that have survived in Frame from version to
version--at least to show that their hearts are in the right place!

3) It seems obvious that the primary code base for a completely new
version will be the InDesign engine. I believe most sincerely that
rather than keeping it a separate product, in such a case they would
do well to make it as a collection of plugins that would integrate
with InDesign....or else be simply folded into InDesign itself in
subsequent major releases.

4) Continue a strong effort to further integrate XML into InDesign
and, thus, into a new generation Frame product.

5) Promote the Frame/InDesign API to vendors of XML repository
systems--or else develop or buy such a product expertise. Properly
done, that could also be the basis for document management for the
rest of the Creative Suite as well. This could even be a management
interface for a third-party database back end, so enterprise customers
could use the database engine they already may own and be familiair

(Imagine the beauty of an integrated version control system!)

6) Use the power of the fast-growing XML tools market for most export
conversion chores--presently, the tools exist to go from standard XML
to online help formats, HTML/XHTML, and about any other format that
might be needed. It is possible today to get the power and much of the
usability of Webworks using an XML toolchain; making it easy to use
and folded into the Creative Suite would make it a truly compelling

As you can tell, I believe the move to commoditize software will not
be over any time soon. To drive the revenues Chizen and company dream
of, they have little choice but to continue to offer an ever-better
value proposition. Even so, it would be very difficult to survive in a
very few years with the kinds of prices and margins Adobe expects.
Already, their hold on .pdf is slipping as more competitors enter that
marketplace at a fraction of Acrobat's price.

To me, therefore, it is vital to their long-term health to become ever
more innovative while *at the same time* developing a much better
relationship with the user base. Failing to fix problems in existing
products as they move versions up, putting out new versions too
rapidly (How long since InDesign 2.0 launched? Yet we're now two
versions downstream with only debatable improvements)--in my view,
they *must* begin to take a much more publicly user-friendly stance
across their primary product lines.

As I have said, I have no fear of moving to the InDesign code base--so
long as they don't drop useful capability now present in Frame, and so
long as they make the new architecture accept legacy Frame docs with
absolutely minimal conversion hassles.

I am glad to see my suggestion a few days ago be proved right-- that
we might see another point release of Frame, but that major versions
after that would likely be on a better code base. That makes perfect
sense from a marketing standpoint--and marketing (after a fashion) is
the tail that is wagging the Adobe dog these days.

Oh, yes...I would also suggest that Adobe give away significant
bundles of fonts with major product releases, especially the next
Frame point release. That would simply add to the value proposition
and be well received by the user community.


On 8/17/05, Ann-Marie Grissino <amgrissino -at- keypointconsultants -dot- com> wrote:
> Re: InDesign not a Frame substitute
> Several of us this month met with the Frame product manager and
> offered our insights to the next full iteration of Frame. More
> developers have been added to the Frame development team now that
> Adobe has moved its intense focus off the push of PDF (90% of Adobe's
> energy and resources in the past few years were assigned to PDF
> issues, resulting in less focus on other products, including Frame).


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InDesign not a Frame substitute: From: Ann-Marie Grissino

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