Frame-to-MSWord roundtripping -- with Mif2Go, or ?

Subject: Frame-to-MSWord roundtripping -- with Mif2Go, or ?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, "Guy K. Haas" <guy -at- hiskeyboard -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 05 Jan 2006 18:10:08 -0500

Guy Haas wondered: <<I'm in a new job in which engineers have a signficant number of docs they have created--and expect to go on modifying/maintaining using Microsoft Word. We in the doc team want to convert the documentation to FrameMaker... The engineers appreciate the need for a consistent look-and-feel across product doc, but they want to be able to get into the docs and make new changes moving forward... Alternatively, is there some other solution anyone can suggest? We are considering Structured FrameMaker for our side (for various reasons), and we realize that XML round-tripping to MSWord is a dicey proposition.>>

Can't speak to the Frame to Word issues, other than to add a theoretical comment: If Frame can export "tagged text", which is to say any text that you can treat like a markup language similar in principle to HTML, then you can import and edit that text in Word. This kind of round-tripping used to be possible in PageMaker, and is supposed to be equally possible in InDesign. If Frame can reimport the tagged text (round-tripping), so much the better, but if not, at least you can use revision tracking to clearly communicate any necessary changes.

I can, however, add a comment about editing XML in Word: It can potentially work very well indeed, provided you do three things: First, treat the XML files as text/ASCII files and open them that way--do not let Word try to open them or save them as HTML. Second, save them as Word .doc files only so you can use revision tracking. Third, after reviewing and incorporating all the edits, resave as text--do not under any circumstances use any of Word's export functions. You can then reimport the XML into your authoring tool.

Of course, it's a bit more complicated than that. Details in two of my articles:
Hart, G.J. 2004. Editing Web pages: a second look. Intercom January:36­–37.
Hart, G. 2005. Editing in XML and SGML environments. Intercom May:39­–41.

I've done this kind of work in HTML, and it works reasonably well. I assume on this basis that the same approach, with a few tweaks will work equally well in XML--but have not actually done such work myself. I did, however, get the second article reality-checked by a local XML wizard, so I'm confident that it's at least worth trying so you can determine whether the approach will work in your situation. Shouldn't take more than an hour to do the test.

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Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)
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Frame-to-MSWord roundtripping -- with Mif2Go, or ?: From: guy

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