RE: Are You Using Structured Framemaker?

Subject: RE: Are You Using Structured Framemaker?
From: "Anna Junglas" <ajunglas -at- hotmail -dot- com>
To: Gary -dot- Etzel -at- Advantica -dot- biz, techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Thu, 08 Dec 2005 14:34:33 -0800

I'm just starting down the path to understand DITA and FM content reuse.
I'm not very far into my investigation but I am having a difficult time seeing the advantages of DITA. Perhaps the docs I am using as a mental example are not the best fit for this type of solution.... I'm using the example of a suite of 3 docs for a software app - Install, Quick Ref, Maintenance.
Output would be PDF and HTML Help Pages.
The content would be almost exactly the same for both outputs.
I understand conceptually that I can use variables for publication version numbers and the product name.
I understand that FM has a text inset feature so I could reuse something like the Overview content.
But what do I gain by using DITA?


I?m hunting around the web to find elementary level explanations - but so far I?m finding I get about 3 pages into it I?m lost. (Do I need to start with a good XML intro?)

Also, I'd like to hear a little more about " plugins that run circles around conditional text and text insets."

Thanks,
Anna


From: "Etzel, Gary" <Gary -dot- Etzel -at- Advantica -dot- biz>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Subject: RE: Are You Using Structured Framemaker?
Date: Thu, 8 Dec 2005 15:07:08 -0500

>Is structured Framemaker (vs unstructured
Framemaker) being used alot?

Probably not, although perhaps it should be. It takes more up-front work to
get started, and it might be overkill for some. But once you are there, it
is a much superior authoring environment. It's hard to understand all the
benefits until you have actually tried it for yourself, or seen it in
action.

> Is a structured writing prerequisite to using
structured Framemaker?

All writing is structured writing. Even "unstructured" writing is
structured, because you still have rules to follow -- you need a Heading1
before you can use a Heading2, notes can or cannot be put in procedures,
whatever. Structure does not have to be complex. So the answer to your
question is technically yes, but I think that most technical writers are
doing some type of structured writing to begin with, whether they realize it
or not.

> You can write unstructured documentation using
> a structured tool if you define your structure loosely
> enough. Of course, that would be kind of a waste
> of the effort involved.

It is not necessarily a waste, depending on your requirements. For example,
there are some structured FrameMaker plugins that run circles around
conditional text and text insets. There are more benefits to structured
FrameMaker than just structured writing.

Regards,

Gary
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project-based workflow. Try it today! http://www.webworks.com/techwr-l

Doc-To-Help 2005 now has RoboHelp Converter and HTML Source: Author content and configure Help in MS Word or any HTML editor. No proprietary editor! *August release. http://www.componentone.com/TECHWRL/DocToHelp2005

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References:
RE: Are You Using Structured Framemaker?: From: Etzel, Gary

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