Re: Multi-Platform Environments and DTP

Subject: Re: Multi-Platform Environments and DTP
From: Chantel Brathwaite <brathwaitec -at- castupgrade -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Tue, 24 May 2011 13:25:48 -0400

Wanted to clarify this point:

"It is looking more and more like Frame might be the tool of choice, which is fine. But we might need to go back a couple of versions or use a virtual machine. "

I don't need the virtual box, but the others who are looking at and reviewing the documents probably would if we all move to Frame exclusively.

Chantel

On 5/24/2011 1:23 PM, Chantel Brathwaite wrote:

Ed and Gene,

Thanks for the feedback concerning Scribus. I started working with it yesterday and was already feeling like it might not really meet our needs. But, I think the tool might work for other things - so I'm glad I am now aware of it. Sounds like you are both confirming my first impressions.

I know someone who is using InDesign for long documents and is using another tool so that multiple people (graphic artist, writer, etc.) can work in a document at the same time. But, this isn't really needed in our current environment for tech docs. I don't need to migrate from the PC (thank goodness with the type of work I do), so I don't need to worry about installing a virtual box. On the rare occasions when I need to work on a unix box, it is usually Solaris - so snapshot is sufficient.

It is looking more and more like Frame might be the tool of choice, which is fine. But we might need to go back a couple of versions or use a virtual machine.

However, I've not explored the XML options yet. I know about XML, have used it in a limited fashion, have done my own personal projects (like incorporating a XML phone list and using XSLT to style them for a web based application), but haven't really used it for tech writing. DITA will be something new for me, so I think I'm going to start exploring that next. I'm also trying to think about what is best for the organization also in terms of tech writing skillsets that might be out there ... don't want to tie them up with something that might be cause problems for another tech writer to learn should I end up moving on at some point in the future.

Anyway, any advice or suggestions concerning a move to XML would be appreciated. Our organization is on a budget as well, so we can't really afford very expensive solutions ... but reasonably priced ones should work well.


Chantel


On 5/24/2011 11:57 AM, Ed Marsh wrote:
From what little I know about Scribus, it's not on par with the professional layout software like Xpress or InDesign. While InDesign's long document features have steadily improved, Frame is still the standard in this regard, at least in the TechComm community.

Would it be possible to install something like VirtualBox on your Windows PC, and use that to run Linux and capture the screens you need? That way you can continue to use your Windows-based tools without problems. I run Ubuntu in VirtualBox to develop and test web sites in Drupal.

Hope this helps.

-=Ed.

On Mon, 23 May 2011 16:50:05 -0400, Chantel Brathwaite <brathwaitec -at- castupgrade -dot- com> wrote:
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?

Thanks!

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

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

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Create and publish documentation through multiple channels with Doc-To-Help.
Choose your authoring formats and get any output you may need. Try
Doc-To-Help, now with MS SharePoint integration, free for 30-days.
http://www.doctohelp.com

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Follow-Ups:

References:
Learning HTML: From: Toni Williams
Re: Learning HTML: From: Sandy Harris
Re: Learning HTML: From: Katherine Noftz Nagel (Kat)
Re: Learning HTML: From: John G
Multi-Platform Environments and DTP: From: Chantel Brathwaite
Re: Multi-Platform Environments and DTP: From: Ed Marsh
Re: Multi-Platform Environments and DTP: From: Chantel Brathwaite

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