RE: InDesign woes

Subject: RE: InDesign woes
From: "Leonard C. Porrello" <Leonard -dot- Porrello -at- SoleraTec -dot- com>
To: <WilliamFLawrence -at- eaton -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 13 May 2008 08:02:18 -0700

The previous technical writer at my current company was using InDesign
for manuals, and the problems I found with the documents(when I started
working for the company) had to do with maintenance. Whenever you'd
change text in one place, the rest of the text in the book would shift
and all of the graphics would end up in the wrong place. Every little
changed involved painstakingly repositioning every graphic. I wasn't
interested in solving this problem as it had become apparent that single
sourcing would be a better alternative for meeting the company's needs.
Until now, I've assumed that InDesign is good for only page layout for
very short documents. However, after reading your (Bill's) post, I
wonder where the author of the InDesign document went wrong in his
design and what he should have done differently to avoid the problem I
mentioned above.

Leonard C. Porrello

-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+leonard -dot- porrello=soleratec -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+leonard -dot- porrello=soleratec -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- c
om] On Behalf Of WilliamFLawrence -at- eaton -dot- com
Sent: Tuesday, May 13, 2008 5:01 AM
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: RE: InDesign woes

Colin,

InDesign CS3 is as good a choice for book length documents as anything
else on the market, and I can say that with some authority as I've
worked with almost every tool on the market. CS2 however has some
serious weaknesses.

We use CS3 for all of our docs. CS3 can easily handle documents that
are hundreds of pages long, and can generate tables of contents (or
figures, tables, etc.) with ease. It also has excellent indexing and
hyperlinking capabilities. Out of the box, it lacks a good
cross-referencing tool; however, there is a freely available script that
you simply plug in for page cross-references.

InDesign also has extremely powerful stylesheet capabilities which, when
combined with master pages, makes it very easy to repurpose content into
another page layout.

If you consider that the CS3 suite also come with the Version Cue
content management and workflow system, it's actually a better deal than
Framemaker. However, its current major limitation is that it doesn't
integrate with something like Robohelp or Flare. If you must also
produce help files from your source, you can either use your PDF output
and provide context sensitive links to PDF destinations or you must
"roll your own" solution to help files with custom scripting.

Another real barrier for InDesign in the long document world is that
almost all of the books, classes, etc. are built to teach how to build
"one-off" short documents. Building long documents that must be easily
maintainable is rarely discussed.

I've spent a lot of time working in the XML publishing side of things,
and I find InDesign's styles to be the functional equivalent of such XML
schemas as Docbook. With a little effort, you can actually import and
export valid XML. As such, I find it to be nearly an ideal text
authoring environment as well as a powerful layout tool.

Contact me off-list and I'll help you work through your problems...

Bill
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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Create HTML or Microsoft Word content and convert to Help file formats or
printed documentation. Features include support for Windows Vista & 2007
Microsoft Office, team authoring, plus more.
http://www.DocToHelp.com/TechwrlList

True single source, conditional content, PDF export, modular help.
Help & Manual is the most powerful authoring tool for technical
documentation. Boost your productivity! http://www.helpandmanual.com

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Follow-Ups:

References:
InDesign woes: From: Collin Turner
RE: InDesign woes: From: WilliamFLawrence

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