TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:RE: FM to InDesign? From:Peter Gold <peter -at- knowhowpro -dot- com> To:techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com Date:Fri, 8 Mar 2013 04:14:48 -0600
"The elephant is like a snake." "No, the elephant is like a tree." "Since
we're all blind, don't you get that the elephant is like whatever part of
it you are touching. If you've never touched an elephant, find one and grab
different parts of it before you post an opinion on this forum."
Over the iterations of InDesign, the long-document features have evolved to
nearly equal FrameMaker's. Multi-file books, generated lists and indexes,
text variables, conditional text, cross-references, paragraph, character,
table, and object styles (aka "formats" in FrameMaker,) multi-level
numbered lists, anchored frames, across-all/some-columns paragraphs,
multi-column text frames, text inset counterparts, and so on.
However, one ID weakness is it's fragile cross-file cross-references in
books. There's a third-party plug-in that's catching on as a more reliable
Another, as mentioned here, is that XML authoring isn't up to FM's ability
to round trip between XML and FM.
Aside from layout and graphic drawing features, InDesign's strong in
e-publishing outputs, and it's developing more and more ability here.
As to HTML5, search Google for terms like "InDesign html5" without quotes,
for tips, opinions, and third-party solutions.
Where FM, or more accurately the Technical Publishing Suite, excels vs. ID,
is in structured authoring, like DITA, and the ability to create help
systems and interactive learning output.
Those of us who remember the shock of coming from MS Word, launching FM for
the first time and finding no open blank document, hold that
thought. InDesign's not like FrameMaker - there is a similar period of
adjustment. There are some of the same problems in developing collaborative
workflows - training teammates who may be reluctant to learn a new tool.
InDesign can't import FrameMaker documents, so developing conversion
workflows becomes an issue. The third-party plug-in that opens and converts
MIF to ID, isn't perfect, because ID has no exact counterpart to some FM
constructs, so some manual effort is often needed.
As to speculation on Adobe's plans to merge and/or replace FM with ID, it's
speculation, so run away, don't walk, until there are facts.
Some missing FM features in ID that might be deal-breakers are: no true
side heading paragraph style, no true run-in paragraph, frame above/below
paragraph (there are paragraph rules, no table footnotes, inability to
capture footnote numbers in cross-references to create multiple references
to he same footnote, inability to capture autonumbered paragraph numbers in
running header variables, text variables cannot wrap across line ends.
There are other plusses and minuses that can make he move good or bad for
you or your projects. The best plan is to work in ID and FM on the same
project and judge from the value from your experience.
EPUB Webinar: Join STC Vice President Nicky Bleiel as she discusses tips for creating EPUB, the file format used for e-readers, tablets, smartphones, and more.