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> From: Mike Starr
> So far, the question is "Is InDesign CS3 as good as
> FrameMaker 7.2 for technical publications?" We already know
> CS2 isn't ready for prime time in our profession. Even if CS3
> is as good as FM 7.2, there'll be very few who'll make the
> decision to switch to something else that's only as good, not
> demonstrably better.
Well, I think if InDesign CS3 can address the issues that made
InDesign CS2 inadequate for technical writers then many will move to
it within the next five-six years. Many new shops will gear up in that
time and will likely choose the easier to use and more integrated tool
for their projects. InDesign CS3 has many features that make it far
better than FrameMaker in many regards. However, I also know that all
the extra, nifty features in the world aren't worth anything if a tool
can't perform the basic required tasks - such as references or
numbered lists - well. So, if InDesign CS3 can perform the tech
writing type tasks as well as FrameMaker 7.2 then it will actually be
far, far better than FrameMaker overall.
> However, to pick one tool, learn it and then consider
> yourself a player in the marketplace seems rather
> shortsighted to me.
I have no intention of doing that. But, since I have to start
somewhere, and since I can get the entire CS3 Master Suite for less
than three times the cost of FrameMaker 7.2 alone, I feel it would be
the best investment of my time and money at this time to purchase the
CS3 Master Suite. Heck, in five years, even that will be dated. But I
will have experience that I can easily translate into CS4.
> If I were in your situation, I'd focus on
> FrameMaker (and possibly WWP with it).
Is this because FrameMaker is popular now or because it will still be
popular in five years? Remember, I am planning for the long-term
> However to be really
> valuable in the marketplace, you also need to know (at a
> minimum) Word, Acrobat, RoboHelp and at least one graphics
> tool (Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro). A solid grounding in HTML
> is also essential... Dreamweaver seems to be the most popular
> but there are any number of other tools that fill the bill.
> That leaves out a number of other possible tools that I
> consider extremely valuable... Visio, Excel, Access,
> PowerPoint, Madcap Flare, Adobe Illustrator. And that doesn't
> even begin to cover the more esoteric tools...
> Visual Studio .NET, CaliberRM, TestDirector, Visual
> SourceSafe, Macromedia Flash, etc.
Believe me, I intend to learn as many of these as possible. This is
why I will have limited time to learn two very different desktop
> I didn't mean to be impolite but I also don't want you to
> focus all your attention on one tool and think that's all you
> need to know.
> I have, however, seen far too many practitioners in our
> profession who are "tool snobs", determined that they're only
> going to use one tool and anything else is unacceptable. My
> intention was to try to guide you away from that path.
Don't worry. I am well past middle-age and have developed at least
enough wisdom to avoid that trap. But thank you for your concern.
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