RE: in search for better tools

Subject: RE: in search for better tools
From: GILLIOTTE Valérie <vgilliotte -at- mega -dot- com>
To: "'Combs, Richard'" <richard -dot- combs -at- Polycom -dot- com>, "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 8 Dec 2009 18:24:18 +0100

Hello !

Thanks for your input all ...

About the many people having sucessfully managed dozens of conditions with old Frame versions, I had heard of that but we had not had the need so far, and now the complexity it involves scares me. I thougt Frame 9 was a better solution, but you're right, it might not be the case.

For now we don't know exactly how many conditions we would need as products are growing fast here ... That's the problem and that's why I am scared of dealing with conditions with Frame 7.

@ Robert : is it the number of variations per document that matters ? (if so we might not reach 10) or the number of conditions for all our products (some products are totally separate, fortunately). I might enquire on a Frame-specific list ...

I kwow about the necessary upgrade to a proper version of Webworks (prices are so high now), I've just enquired. Maybe we could look into Mif2Go instead but I know it is not WYSIWIG and I don't know if it can replace Automap.

Personnally I would not mind not rushing but my boss is scared at the idea of keeping up the work with an un-supported version of Webworks and Automap (I would be a bit too within a couple of years maybe)

Someone suggested looking into Flare, as the import from Frame works well apparently ... I don't know.

Thanks for the clarification about XML and structured Frame. Actually, it could help on another of our problems maybe: filtering the documentation to the proper profile of user, but I'm still not sure. Maybe there is another way too.

To be continued ...

Thanks again.

-----Message d'origine-----
De : Combs, Richard [mailto:richard -dot- combs -at- Polycom -dot- com]
Envoyé : mardi 8 décembre 2009 16:51
À : GILLIOTTE Valérie; techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Objet : RE: in search for better tools

GILLIOTTE Valérie wrote:

> We are currently using Frame 7.1 and WWP2003 + ePro for
> single-sourcing our documentation. When I mean single sourcing, I mean
> having the same source for Pdfs and on-line help, that's all. We are
> now up against a new problem
> : having to produce different outputs based on the same source but
> with slight differences in the names of concepts etc (for example,
> according to the framework customers are using, a cat could be called
> a dog .... (but the principle of use of the tool remains the same).
> Right now, we would have to duplicate large portions of texts,
> changing them slightly, which is insane. I know Frame 7 is not ideal
> for managing multiple conditions and and I don't find text insets
> common to all products that easy to manage.

Do you really need "ideal"? There are people on the FrameUsers list who've been managing scores of conditions in various versions of FM for years.

Yes, FM 9 is more flexible because you can use Boolean expressions (with AND and OR operators) to specify what to display, whereas earlier versions of FM only OR conditions. But you've always been able to overcome the lack of ANDing by creating additional conditions.

For instance, instead of conditions for print, help, cat, dog, and comment, you could use cat-print, cat-help, dog-print, dog-help, cat-comment, and dog-comment. It requires more careful planning, and people who use a dozen or more conditions report using a spreadsheet to help manage them (I don't have any personal experience with that much complexity).

It helps to stick with a minimum unit to conditionalize -- either a sentence or a paragraph -- and not let yourself conditionalize a word here and there (that's especially bad if translation may be in the future). For "slight differences in the names of concepts," don't use conditional text _at all_ -- use variables. Same for product and company names (who knows when one of those is going to change overnight), etc.

I'm not saying don't upgrade to FM 9. It has many other new features and enhancements besides more flexible conditional text, so if the budget permits, you may want to do so. But it doesn't sound like you _need_ to do so to address the problem you describe. And FM 9 represents a bit of an adjustment for those of us used to (and efficient with) the stodgy old interface. :-}

Be aware that if you go to FM 9, you'll need to upgrade WebWorks or switch to something else for help output. So you'd want to look at Adobe's Technical Communications Suite. You're talking major changes that you shouldn't rush into, and certainly not in the middle of a release cycle.

As for structure, nothing you said suggests a need for that. Personally, I'd stick with what I had for now -- it should be easily up to the task -- and start looking into the possibility of upgrading at a convenient (i.e., not busy) time in the future.


Richard G. Combs
Senior Technical Writer
Polycom, Inc.
richardDOTcombs AT polycomDOTcom
rgcombs AT gmailDOTcom

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in search for better tools: From: GILLIOTTE Valérie
RE: in search for better tools: From: Combs, Richard

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