RE: Structured FM versus Arbortext Editor

Subject: RE: Structured FM versus Arbortext Editor
From: "Combs, Richard" <richard -dot- combs -at- Polycom -dot- com>
To: Michael Johnson <k7rvx -at- yahoo -dot- com>, "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 16 Aug 2011 09:08:56 -0700

Michael Johnson wrote:

> In the near future the small company I work for will be creating new
> USAF tech orders in SGML for inclusion in a large database.  From what
> I understand, aviation manufacturers, the military, and the IRS are
> among the few organizations that still use SGML technical content.
> It looks like I will be the writer who will compose the SGML.  I have
> read what few books are still in print on the subject, and have a
> rudimentary understanding of what's in store.
> I am looking for recommendations on which editor to use.  It looks like
> the options are structured FM and Arbortext editor.  I already have FM9
> and have a couple of years of experience generating unstructured FM,
> but the boss indicates he is willing to purchase the Arbortext editor
> and whatever technical support is necessary to get us up and running.

I've only dabbled, for self-education, with the structured side of FM, so I can't really speak from experience. But I can speak from common sense.

Both products have a long history of doing the job you need done.

But you have two years relevant experience with FM (if you adhere to good template standards and create FM docs without overrides, you'll probably transition to structured writing without too much cognitive pain). And I assume that Arbortext is completely new to you.

It seems to me that Arbortext would have to offer some really compelling advantages to justify tossing aside FM and your existing knowledge of it. I doubt that it does. IIRC, from some discussions a few years ago, just generating a decent PDF (which is child's play with FM) was quite non-trivial.

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


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Structured FM versus Arbortext Editor: From: Michael Johnson

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