Word to FrameMaker conversion -- outsource it?

Subject: Word to FrameMaker conversion -- outsource it?
From: Chris Despopoulos <despopoulos_chriss -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Fri, 14 Jan 2011 00:19:08 -0800 (PST)

Whether outsourced or done inhouse, make sure you "normalize" your Word
documents as much as possible. Things that cause problems are:
* Bookmarks -- they all turn into cross references in Maker. Hopefully
most of your bookmarks *are* cross references.
* Text formatting -- every variant in Word becomes a separate pgf or
char format in Maker. Hopefully your authors were strict about
template use, and didn't apply bold/italic/font/size changes directly
from the format menus -- hopefully they used styles. But then again,
the point of Word is that you don't have to use styles...
* Tables -- make sure your Word document doesn't use any unwanted
fonts before you create tables. Otherwise they get buried in the table
definitions and are hard to get rid of.
* Graphics -- I think they always come in as in-line. That may not be
what you want. Also, I'm not sure why, but some graphics never come across
in printable form -- they're grey boxes.
* Other...

There's no question -- you have to look at and possibly touch every page.
That's just the nature of the beast. The document models are so very different,
there's just no way around it.

I have made a little Maker plug-in that helps manage bookmarks, and helps whack
unwanted ones. It can also turn certain ones into Maker variables. And it
changes all inline graphics into below paragraph. It's not sophisticated, and
it's really not good for public consumption, but if you think it might help I
can send it to you.

As for insource vs outhouse... I guess that depends on ROI. I'm sure there's a
page count at which it makes sense to outsource it. You also have your
schedules to consider -- can you give up your staff for the couple of weeks it
will take to do this? OTOH, you may come across decision points that require
inhouse knowledge. Every document is different -- can you rely on outsource
people to hande them all appropriately?

The more your Maker template matches your Word template the better off you'll
be. I'm currently converting a large Word doc set to Maker, and the two
templates are very different. The Maker template is more restrictive (that's
usually the case -- some of the value of Maker comes along with restricting the
template so writers follow rules, and the docs can then be processed more
easily). Well, there are many places where I have to make editorial decisions
-- what was in a table should now be in a list; bizarre and not-hierarchical
heading levels have to be dealt with; interesting layout constructs have to be
hammered into the more restrictive template. Outsourcing would not be an option
in this case.

Hope this helps -- Maybe you should start a Word2Maker blog... It might be
instructive for the rest of us.



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