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> Date: Mon, 23 Sep 2013 08:24:26 -0400
> From: "Rick Quatro" <rick -at- rickquatro -dot- com>
> I am new to the list and work with both FrameMaker and InDesign. I am
> working with a client that is looking at using InDesign for their technical
> documentation. They want to know if other tech writers are using InDesign,
> as opposed to FrameMaker or Word, etc. Does anyone know of any data or
> surveys that might show where InDesign stands in the technical publications
> world? Thank you very much.
> Rick Quatro
> Carmen Publishing Inc.
> rick -at- frameexpert -dot- com
Thanks for asking this question.
There's synchronicity in the air. A related question recently came up at
InDesignsecrets.com. A beginning tech writer asked for information that
could help him understand and decide between using FrameMaker and InDesign
for technical writing.
In my reply there, I posted a link to techwr-l.com, noting that this is
where the most-experienced technical writers hang out.
> You can contact me off-list if you want
> more specifics about my experience with ID. I prefer not to rant about the
> time in my life when I used it publicly.
âThanks, Paul. I'll get in touch. I'm interested in your experiences.
From: Chris Morton <salt -dot- morton -at- gmail -dot- com>
> To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
I've been using ID exclusively for the past six years, for several reasons.
> Note that I have not (yet) had a need to create web-based deliverables, so
> everything I've been doing is paper-based (with generated PDFs available,
> of course).
Chris: if you think your reasons for choosing to use InDesign would be
useful to others, consider posting them here.
> As for FM, I've only had a brief, nine-month acquaintance with it, but
> quickly discovered that Adobe has done *nothing* to retool its UI in
> relation to current GUI specs?Mac or PC. Granted, I think I was forced to
> use the now-antiquated FM 7 and haven't looked at it since (thank God).
> Yes, I can clearly see where it is perhaps the tool of choice for larger
> projects, with different deliverables.
âFrameMaker 11 âis the current release. Like most software products with
long histories, it's evolved with each new release. If you can "perhaps"
see FrameMaker 7's value for large technical writing projects, you'll
certainly see significant increases in its value in FM 11.
> Joe Welinske [joewe -at- writersua -dot- com] does an annual tools survey (
>http://welinske.com/tools-survey/ ) that produces statistics to answer
> kind of question. To his website and look for the latest results. (I don't
> know whether this year's survey has been completed and the results compiled
Thanks for this link, Margaret.
> My personal opinion is that Mac shops tend to use ID for documentation, but
> PC organizations use MS Word, FM, or Madcap's Flare. ID requires 3rd-party
> plug-ins to do common large doc things like TOCs, auto numbering of
> and figures, and Indexes, but some folks are using it. One of the LinkedIn
> tech writing groups I belong to recently had a long discussion about ID
> versus other tools, but I couldn't find it to cite it for you.
âJust to clarify: In earlier releases, ID lacked useful long-document
tools, and in those days, 3rd-party plug-ins were necessary to provide
While technically speaking, InDesign still requires plug-ins to perform
common large-document tasks, the current reality is that they have all been
delivered within InDesign âsince ID CS 5, because everything that InDesign
does is performed by a plug-in. ID consists of a core engine with hundreds
of individual Adobe plug-ins.
> I've never seen InDesign in a tech docs department or mentioned in a
> help-wanted ad for a tech writer. I've seen posts here and on other
> forums by a handful of tech writers
> who use it but it's not an appropriate tool if you need to
> single-source to online help.
For those technical authors who need to create help systems, round-trip
XML, work with DITA, or create SCORM-compliant output, InDesign's inability
to do these makes FrameMaker the logical choice.
> I haven't seen a market-share survey of authoring tools in years. I
> don't think anyone has such information except maybe the tools
> vendors, who don't share it except insofar as it serves their
> promotional purposes.
If anyone's got reliable comparisons between the number of FrameMaker and
InDesign in tech-writing departments, it would be great if they'd post that
I've been collecting information on the experiences of FrameMaker technical
authors who make the transition to InDesign. If anyone wants to share,
please contact me at: fmtwr2id at knowhowpro dot com. Thanks.
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