Re: InDesign versus FrameMaker (versus Word)

Subject: Re: InDesign versus FrameMaker (versus Word)
From: David Neeley <dbneeley -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com, mattgras -at- comcast -dot- net
Date: Sat, 15 May 2010 09:45:24 +0300


FYI, PASW Statistics is now called SPSS Statistics by IBM, as IBM
acquired the company recently. It does export to Excel format, which
could make things easier. It should also be able to directly output
comma-delimited format, but I am not certain of that. However, a
direct Excel-formatted table should be handled easily enough.

Either InDesign or Frame would be fine for the project you
describe...and, I believe, far superior to Word. However, since you
have prior Frame experience, I would definitely lean that way in your
case. InDesign is a fabulous tool in its own right, but the learning
curve might be somewhat larger than a tool you are already somewhat
familiar with.

Unless I am greatly mistaken, both can import straight Excel
spreadsheet data easily enough, especially since you won't be
manipulating the data but merely preparing it for printing or,
perhaps, for .pdf output.

It sounds like your project is a long, highly complex document from a
technical standpoint, and that is exactly what Frame is designed to
handle with aplomb. If you had complex typography needs, InDesign
would be far superior, I believe. I have done projects in both of
them, and I wound up using InDesign for things like printed brochures
that needed complex typographic formatting.

Another factor--how much of the document has been finished, and how
much will you be receiving at the last minute before the deadline? If
you anticipate major changes right up to the last minute, then your
familiarity with the tool you select will be at a premium.

Whichever tool you choose, I'd get it as quickly as possible and begin
to work through the familiarization process while setting up
style/template definitions that you want for the finished project.
That will get you going fairly quickly. What you don't want, I
believe, is to still be working out formatting issues at the last
minute when you're trying to get the latest version of the document
ready to go.


On Sat, May 15, 2010 at 09:00, <techwr-l-request -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com> wrote:
> From: mattgras -at- comcast -dot- net
> To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> Date: Fri, 14 May 2010 18:31:53 +0000 (UTC)
> Subject: InDesign versus FrameMaker (versus Word)
> I'm working a short-fuse documentation project for the US military helping to produce a 150 page report that will eventually wind up in the White House. I came into the project mid-stream. The team here is using MS Word 2007 but is considering switching to InDesign.
> The document consists primarily of tables and figures, some quite complex. The team (research psychologists) create these tables in something called PASW Statistics 18. These tables import into Word but are a visual nightmare.
> So my questions are:
> (1) Would InDesign offer formatting and layout cababilities superior to those of MS Word?
> (2) Would it be hell for me (a senior tech writer whose most recent experience, alas, is all with Word -- I live in Seattle and most of my contracts are with MS) to switch to InDesign? (I really like FrameMaker, although I haven't been lucky enough to use it in recent years.) The project deadline is July 1st.
> (3) InDesign versus FrameMaker: which would be the more logical choice? And in that regard, does anyone have experience importing tables from PASW into FrameMaker or InDesign?
> Many thanks,
> Matt

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