Re: Frame Conditional Text

Subject: Re: Frame Conditional Text
From: Glen Accardo <glen -at- SOFTINT -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 6 Oct 1994 14:23:15 -0500

> Glen, here I was all set to push for FrameMaker because of the conditional
> text feature, and then I read your message and got bummed. I have to
> maintain manuals for at least five different platforms and of course, there
> is not enough hours in the day to do this. I would be buying Frame because
> of this feature; I don't really need everything else that it can do. In your
> opinion, is the conditional text feature worth it or are the glitches really
> strong? I would really appreciate an answer to this asap; I need to give
> my manager an answer by tomorrow. Thanks a lot. (By the way, our other
> possibility is Word 6.0 (Windows)).

By far and away, Frame has the best conditional text features I've used.
Not having conditional text formatting is kind of a pain, but I've never
seen any program with that feature. All of the existing features work
quite well, with no apparent bugs. The features I find most appealing are:

1. You can make anything conditional -- from one character/graphic/etc.
all the way up to the entire manual. Some programs (such as the
Windows help compiler) only support one "size" of conditional text
(in this case an entire topic).
2. You define the labels for conditional things. You can have as many
as you like.
3. Turning one item on doesn't affect anything else. (You can have any
number of settings on, and any number off) This is very useful for
comparing one version to the others.
4. No matter what you do, visually distinguishing conditional text ain't
easy, but at least frame lets you modify settings and turn them off.

Most of the problems with conditional text are inherent in the text being
made conditional. If you rush into a complex conditional text problem
without seriously evaluting it, you're gonna get really overwhelmed.

Read the FrameMaker manual THOROUGHLY. Conditional text affects indexes,
spell checkers, etc. You need to be very consistent about making sentences/
words conditional -- otherwise you end up with extra spaces, missing spaces,
and similar problems. The FrameMaker manual is very good about revealing
these issues.

Also, for things like version numbers (all products have 'em and they are
usually different), consider using variables. They are a bit simpler and
for common items are more effecient. That is, you stick in one version
number variable instead of three or five conditional version numbers.

Hope this sheds some light on conditional text.

glen accardo glen -at- softint -dot- com
Software Interfaces, Inc. (713) 492-0707 x122
Houston, TX 77084

Did the Corinthians ever write back?

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