Re: Justifying FM (was About The Cloud: Quick-Read, Suggestions)

Subject: Re: Justifying FM (was About The Cloud: Quick-Read, Suggestions)
From: Peter Gold <peter -at- knowhowpro -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Thu, 11 Apr 2013 03:55:27 -0500

On Thu, Apr 11, 2013 at 12:55 AM,Chris Morton <salt -dot- morton -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:

Hi, Chris:

Thanks, all, but at this point it's a complete non-issue. I'm staying where
> I am, and I use InDesign. (FrameMaker would be complete overkill here.)

I may have missed seeing a description of the existing FrameMaker docs, so
I might be off-point.

InDesign, like FrameMaker, is HUGE. It's just as likely that ID is overkill
for many kinds of documentation as FrameMaker is. One key factor in
choosing between them in your situation is that you're quite comfortable
with your ability to use InDesign. However, choosing to change
documentation applications raises the issue of dealing with existing legacy
documents. Depending on the document and intended purposes, converting
documents from FM to ID ranges from the trivial to the near-impossible.
Without going into detailed discussion here, you'll want to consider how
you'll deal with conversion as part of your decision.

Another issue is how common ID skills are in the pool of technical
communicators who are competent in the knowledge field of the company or
industry. Many more technical communicators have FM skills than those who
currently have ID skills, so will the company incur expense to retrain a
writer who joins the team, or who replaces you, to use ID? Will the company
incur expense to return the documentation to FM?

IMO, the issue is as much about justifying ID as it is about justifying FM.
Currently, FM is far more appropriate for creating help systems and in
working with XML and DITA structured documentation models. If these are
current needs or future goals, FM's current ability here makes it more
appropriate than ID. Future ID releases may narrow or remove the

> As for control of Word docs, I would think anyone faced with this would
> want to distribute their work in PDF format, with commenting turned on.
> This is how I distribute my InDesign work, first exporting as PDF and then
> opening the result in Acrobat Pro to engage the Allow For Commenting (or
> whatever it is) option.

Yes, reviewers should have a commonly-available commenting tool. The
efficiency for the author to incorporatw their comments is another factor
in choosing an authoring application. Search Google for terms like
"importing PDF comments into indesign," "importing PDF comments into
framemaker," and "importing PDF comments into microsoft word," without
quotes, for links to material that can help in evaluating this kind of

If working in a collaborative cloud-based environment is a consideration,
ID works in Adobe Creative Cloud, but currently FM doesn't.



Peter Gold
KnowHow ProServices
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