Functional Replacement for Word for Long Documents?

Subject: Functional Replacement for Word for Long Documents?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 29 Mar 2006 08:21:31 -0500

Missed the original attribution, but the question seems to have been: <<For extremely long projects (500+ pages), is there any other viable option besides FrameMaker? Can InDesign handle something that big?>>

My personal opinion is that it's nuts to trust any project that large to a single file. Sure, the software may be claimed to handle it reliably (e.g., Frame rather than Word), but by and large, you'll have more problems with a single huge file than you will with half a dozen smaller files.

That being the case, the answer is not necessarily to change the software, but rather to use the software judiciously. Break up large projects into a series of smaller documents at logical places (e.g., sections or chapters), then stitch them together with whatever features your software provides to do the stitching; we've discussed this often enough for Word that I don't feel any need to repeat the discussion, so check the archives. In PageMaker, this was done using the "book" feature. Frame and InDesign users can provide their own descriptions of the best way to handle this.

This "divide and conquer" approach has another advantage you might not have thought of: it allows multiple people to work on a project at the same time, which you generally can't do or can do only with some difficulty if you use a single large document.* For example, if you divide a large project into chapter-based files, you can send one file for review and keep working on another file while the former file is out for review. That's much harder to do with a single monolithic file.

* You can do something similar in InDesign if you use InCopy. Haven't used this software, so I can't provide details, other than a vague memory from reading a review that it only works if the file is divided into independently placed "stories". Confirmation welcomed!

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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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Functional Replacement for Word for Long Documents: From: Henry Meyerding

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