Multi-Platform Environments and DTP

Subject: Multi-Platform Environments and DTP
From: Chantel Brathwaite <brathwaitec -at- castupgrade -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Mon, 23 May 2011 16:50:05 -0400

We are looking for alternatives to MS Word for long (500+ pages), multi-chapter technical documents. Our customer is the government, so no matter what we do, we will probably have to deliver some content in word - but other content can be delivered as a pdf. Our environment is a mix of windows, linux, and one mac user ... most of the developers use Linux and run windows on a terminal emulation program called crossover. I am using windows xp. I'll probably be using xp for while unless I switch to linux.

Currently, I'm using Word and Framemaker 7.2. We were hoping to use Framemaker exclusively for the different developers in the office... but Frame no longer supports Unix. So, we are looking at alternatives. Here's what I've considered. I would love feedback on this ...

1. I keep Framemaker 7.2 (or possibly upgrade), then use mif2go to convert the documents into a format that the engineers can read and edit. Then I copy and paste the information back to the original frame document. Or alternatively, I convert them to PDF. I can import PDF comments from Frame10, but there are some limitations from what I understand (the document has to be the same as the original which makes including edits from multiple reviewers a little more difficult).

2. We move to the cross-platform version of Framemaker - which is Frame 8. But, older licenses are pretty expensive and Adobe will only allow us one upgrade unfortunately.

3. We look into using a virtual machine ... but that might cause them to make some changes that I'm not sure that they'll want to make. (Crossover, which is a terminal emulation program doesn't support adobe products very well - and the newer versions of frame are untested.) If we do that, we can all just upgrade Frame 10 and all documentation can be converted over.

4. We look at an alternative - such as QuarkXpress. But, I've heard that the tech support for that product is really poor and while there is windows and mac support, there is no unix support for the latest version. I also looked at InDesign, but there is no unix support (and it fails Crossover support). I'm not sure about PageStream and Scribus; I'm just starting to look at those tools ...

I'm continuing to think about angles to work on this ... but it seems that over the past five to ten years the DTP field has thinned considerably for unix boxes, unfortunately.

Is there something that I'm overlooking? Or can you suggest other alternatives for me or your experiences? For those of you working in multi-platform environments, what do you typically use?


Chantel Brathwaite
Technical Writer
Cole Engineering Services Inc.
Email: Chantel -dot- Brathwaite -at- coleengineering -dot- com
Phone: 407-207-1773 ext. 4138


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