RE: That FrameMaker / Word thang...

Subject: RE: That FrameMaker / Word thang...
From: "Fred Ridder" <docudoc -at- hotmail -dot- com>
To: TJohnson -at- starcutter -dot- com, techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Tue, 21 Mar 2006 09:07:01 -0500

As a FrameMaker user and advocate, I feel strange coming to Word's defense...

In reality, Word's IF field code is more powerful than FrameMaker's conditional
text implementation because it supports Boolean operators.

In Frame, the show/hide logic is strictly OR, and show takes precedence over
hide. If *any* condition tag applied to a text item is set to show, it doesn't
matter that every other condition applied to is is set to hide; the text shows.
In practice, this means that you wind up having to define a larger number of
conditions to cover the logical combinations of orthogonal conditions.
Four products supported on three operating systems means 12 conditions are
required to allow you to have complete control of the show/hide rules.
Boolean operators in show/hide rules is one of the most frequently asked-for
features in FrameMaker.

In Word, you can use AND and OR operators or nested IF fileds when building
the IF feilds to conditionalize text, and this gives much more control over the
rules that you can construct. On the other hand, the need to specify every
item of conditional content inside these complex field codes is realy cumbersome.

My opinions only; I don;t speak for Intel.
Fred Ridder
Parsippany, NJ

From: "Johnson, Tom" <TJohnson -at- starcutter -dot- com>
To: "Dan Goldstein" <DGoldstein -at- riverainmedical -dot- com>,<techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Subject: RE: That FrameMaker / Word thang...
Date: Tue, 21 Mar 2006 08:02:47 -0500

Maybe I can elaborate about a situation where conditional text workarounds in Word would not work.

I can see Word working where you have one layer of conditions: A, B, or C. But, what if you have more than one level where the levels can overlap in different combinations.

Imagine four related products: A, B, C, and D.
Now, add two or three operating systems: Win, Linux, Mac
Next, complicate things by different groups of readers: Admin, Advanced, Novice.
Finally, picture a need to produce documentation tailored for any combination of Product, OS, and reader. If my math is correct, that's 36 possible combinations to configure a manual. Can Word handle overlapping conditions to accommodate something that might be in "A for Win/Admin" and "A for Win/Advanced", but not in the Novice version.

I created something very similar where I work, but the categories are different.* FrameMaker made the job fairly simple and once I got text tagged with the right conditional text tags, I didn't have to worry about it no matter which version I wanted to print.

*In the past, we manufactured several different machine models with a variety of CNC controllers and printed three different manuals (operator, maintenance, and training) for each machine/controller combination. We regularly printed more than a dozen different manuals from one set of files. We're moving toward using one standard controller and have combined the manuals into one operation and maintenance manual. The variation between machine models still make conditional text a huge benefit and I don't think I'd care to try recreating that in Word.

Tom Johnson
Technical Writer
tjohnson -at- starcutter -dot- com

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RE: That FrameMaker / Word thang...: From: Johnson, Tom

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