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First, rather than the overpriced (IMHO) Documentum, I suggest rather
strongly that you look at Alfresco. Alfresco is a company founded by a
Documentum co-founder and a co-founder of Business Objects. It has
both a paid and a free (open source), downloadable version. See http://www.alfresco.com/
The advantage Alfresco brings to the table (besides being much more
affordable than Documentum) is that it is a clean-sheet design that
still gains from years of experience with other enterprise-class
products. It also builds upon very strong open source products for
much of its functionality, assuring you of a continuing refinement of
As far as your creation tools, I think your biggest issues will be
with conversion of your Word docs into the winning format, whatever
that may be.
Others have mentioned the forthcoming Blaze product from Madcap
Software. It is to be a direct competitor for Frame, but wholly based
around XML. From what I understand about their Flare product, it
should be very interesting and, if successful, I expect it to be a
considerable success. However, although I also signed up for the beta
test, I have yet to hear from them about it.
I think that given your need for document reuse, you will likely
either wind up with a proprietary product such as AuthorIT or an XML
solution of some kind. From what I have seen, those who use AuthorIT
tend to like it a great deal. However, I believe it is a very fair
statement to say that XML is likely to continue to gain ease of use
and a plethora of new products with the passage of time.
If you must make a decision right away, I would suggest Frame and a
development of any new documents you are charged with as structured
Frame docs. Personally, I would either opt for DocBook or DITA, with a
slight preference for DITA for a completely new doc chain.
As you become familiar with Frame's approach to structured authoring,
you will become familiar with why it is a favorite among many people
who believe that it can be used by writers with only a nodding
acquaintance to XML, while producing very good code.
As you have time (and, I presume you will not be a sole writer for
long!), I would begin the migration of existing docs that will be the
bases for continuing development. I suggest you spend a great deal of
planning time to determine the path you will follow for this
migration. Choices you make early in the process can have a great deal
to do with the success of your migration and the ultimate project.
If you can gather the resources to do so, you might also consider
employing a consulting firm to do some or even all of the document
migration process. That may be somewhat expensive, but often it can
save you immensely in the long run. There are a number of people on
this list with firms who can advise you or who can contract for the
For the online help creation, at the moment I would use Flare. As
others have said, there is a very clean path from Frame to Flare, so
they will work together quite well.
Just remember the old saying about how you eat an elephant--one bite
at a time! By taking careful bites, this entire project needs not be
completely traumatic. You can and should avoid major mistakes in this
fashion as well.
> From: "SB " <sylvia -dot- braunstein -at- gmail -dot- com>
> To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> Date: Sun, 1 Apr 2007 03:02:37 +0300
> Subject: Moving away from MS Word?
> We are a medium-sized company growing faster than I can handle.
> I am currently the sole technical writer for the whole company but I think
> that we will soon have a team.
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