RESULTS: FrameMaker vs Word Debate

Subject: RESULTS: FrameMaker vs Word Debate
From: Denise Beaudoin <denise -at- TECSYS -dot- COM>
Date: Sun, 17 Sep 1995 15:51:39 GMT


Recently, I posted a query on the Internet regarding the tool users
most recommended to author/publish educational material. The outcome
of this survey would be used to convince management that MS Word was
not the most effective system in this endeavour, and that we should
seriously consider FrameMaker to do the job. The response to this
query was overwhelming. FrameMaker won hands down. Management has
since been convinced, and we are in the process of making the switch.
To all those that answered... thank you, thank you, thank you! To
those who wanted a copy of the compiled list of responses, here it is.

Denise Beaudoin
denise -at- tecsys -dot- com



Please don't become one of those tiresome people who carry out
interminable surveys on FrameMaker. It's quite simple. If you are
producing small booklets, you can use a toy like Word. If you need to
manage large, complex documents, you need Frame. It all depends on
whether it's a professional situation or not. You're not going to get
any more real data over the net. I suggest you buy one copy of Frame
and evaluate the product for your company's needs.

Gordon H. Buchan
buchang -at- cam -dot- org
X-Sender: buchang -at- stratus


Frame is simply, better! The referencing is far beyond Word, it
produces better HTML, and the math hadnling capabilities are very
slick. In addition, it does change bars and other useful things with
a minimum of fuss. I have been using version 3 for quite some time,
since none of my docs have been over 10 pages, but if I expect to
write any new docs of that length, I will score a copy of Frame5 from
frame tech ASAP.

Note that Frame docs are compatible across Unix, Mac, and Win, wich is
very, very nice, especially for group aithored products. I do not
know how it is for multiple document references, but I dod suspect it
will be better than Word, given Word's other failings.

Organization: NETCOM On-line Communication Services (408 261-4700 guest)

Hi Denise --

I'm a tech writer and course developer at Sybase in Denver, and I have
a strong opinion about your question! Do yourself the biggest favor
in the world and choose ANYTHING but MS Word! Although we never
produced actual documentation in it -- we had enough trouble just
getting out things like functional specifications. If you would like
more detail about these problems (if for example, management has some
big love for MS Word) I will be happy to provide it! Frame is
definetely THE product of choice for creating book-length documents.
It is great, great, great. Use it on Unix or Max becuase it's most
reliable there. More detail follows.

On Thursday, August 24, 1995 7:18PM,
Denise (denise -at- tecsys -dot- com) wrote:

>>The major contenders to the race appear to be Word and Framemaker.

Having used Word, Frame, Pagemaker, Quark, etc. on Unix, Windows, and
Macintosh, I would strongly suggest that for creating material of any
signficant size, you use Frame. Microsoft Word can have some *VERY*
serious practical file size limitations depending on your
machine/network configuration. Without going into the gory details,
MS Word can cause you terrible problems with documents over about 50
pages, especially in a networked environment.

>>* Must be able to produce professional looking documentation;

Frame doc looks great! It has good typographic controls, the ability
to use multiple master pages in a single document, and lots of
automatic features that make maintaining consistency easy. The only
drawback I have found is that in Frame 4.0 you cannot easily create a
text wrap around a graphic -- however, I hear this problem is solved
in Frame 5.0.

>>* Must be able to handle large volumes;

Sure can!

>>* Must allow me to transform certain sections of the help into
>> hypertext; therefore, it must allow me to create single source
>> doc to some measure;

Frame4.0 has hypertext some capabilities, which are enhanced in Frame
5.0, which can apparently create real SGML.

>>* Must provide the conversion utilities required to port the files
>> from DOS to Unix or vice versa. Other convertors would be nice:
>> SGML, HTML, Mac...

No problem! I have transfer documents between Mac, Windows, and Unix
on a regular basis. The only problem I can report here is that if you
go with Frame on Windows (I'd recommend Unix because there are more
add-on products available and the product is a little more robust.) is
that if you cannot reliably move a file to/from a LANMAN network
server to/from a Novell network server. This can cause mysterious
file locking problems, but I suspect very few people have a mixed
environment like that. Cross-references can also become mysteriously
corrupted on Windows and be lost entirely.

>>* Must expertly handle multi-document features: headers, footers,
>> indexes, table of contents, footnotes, cross-references, etc.

Does it all! On Unix there are also lots of really nifty utilities to
help you make better indices, better hypertext, etc.

>>* Must allow such multi-documents to be easily maintained.

Very straightforward. Formatting scheme allows you to import formats
from one document to all the others in a book to maintain
character/paragraph formats, variable definitions, conditional text
settings, page layouts, etc., etc.

>>My question, can you please tell me why, apart from the obvious, I
>>would choose to use Word over FrameMaker, or vice versa.

The biggest reason you should choose Frame over Word is because Frame
works and Word doesn't! You will be very, very sorry if you choose


Erika Peterson
/epeterso -at- sybase -dot- com


One of the most important reason why we stick to Frame is because of
their Technical support. Frame's technical support has always pulled
through for us. On the other hand I have never even tried to get
support for Microsoft Word. I remember having to call for a Windows
question. What happened? I was transferred three or four times
before talking to the right person. I hope Microsoft's support has
improved since, but never the less Frame's Tech support is one of the
best in my book.

Luc Langevin
Documentation Production Specialist
Speedware Corporation Inc.
E-mail: lucl -at- speedware -dot- com

Hi Denise,

I just have to respond to your question about which is better and why
for FrameMaker/Word. I would avoid Word 6 at all costs!! The master
document feature does not work! If you go with Word (and your
documents are of any size at all), you will be fighting memory
messages and GPFs to the end. You will find it nearly impossible to
get proper page numbering between files and sections, and you will
battle printing and indexing through the master document "feature".
The master document is what organizes all of your files into one
"book". Since this is VERY buggy, you face a lot of manual organizing
and proofing. Microsoft admits that this is a huge bug, but they have
no plans to improve it in the next release!

I also hate the repagination step of Word. Everytime you go to a page
later in your file, or print, or save, Word paginates through each
page. Talk about TIME-CONSUMING.

We converted our manuals to FrameMaker 5 this summer. It wasn't
completely painfree, but we are there! It works like a dream --
compared to Word! It is a true DTP, unlike Word.

I've used alot of DTPs and word processors since college (just 5
years) and I think it would be a very big mistake to go with Word.

I currently am in a Windows environment. I've used Word 6, WordPerfect
6, AmiPro 3, and now FrameMaker 5 for Windows. Frame's the best choice
for Windows, then Word, then AmiPro, and then WordPerfect.

I've also worked in Unix and Macintosh at another company. I used
FrameMaker and Interleaf in Unix. If you go with Unix, Interleaf will
beat FrameMaker everytime. Talk about power! But it is more complex
than FrameMaker. The good thing about FrameMaker is that you can use
it in all platforms.

I've used Word and PageMaker on the Mac. No real opinion here.

I know this is probably more than you wanted to know, but I want to
try to help others avoid our headaches.

Amy Spaugh
SCT Government Systems
Lexington KY
(aspaugh -at- sctcorp -dot- com)

Hi Denise,

Since my views on this topic are probably tiresome (at least to the
Word camp), I am responding privately.

It's a no-brainer: Frame, and I am by necessity a Word user who has
little experience with Frame. So, in order:

*A toss-up unless you want something like portrait headers and footers
but landscape text. Word can't really do it, but I'm told Frame can.

*Word is brain-dead when it comes to handling large projects, period.
Frame does it exceptionally well.

*A toss-up, although some people find Word's .rtf to be friendlier to
some Help authoring tools.

*Word can't do it, period. Frame does it nearly transparently,
although you can run into some small formatting problems and some
graphics problems if the graphics weren't originally Frame (at least
in Frame 4 and earlier--I don't know if Frame 5 cured the problems).
Word's Internet Assistant HTML add-on is next to useless and buggy as
hell, but it's great in talking to Macs. Frame talks DOS to Mac and
vice versa subject to the UNIX caveat.

*Word does this unreliably, but usually pretty well. Frame does it
very well.

*See previous remark.

Downside of Frame: STEEP learning curve. Many not-obvious quirks.
Downside of Word (in addition to those mentioned earlier): Worse
resource hog than Frame, but it can really use only 640K of RAM.

Good luck.
John -dot- Renish -at- conner -dot- com


This is a FrameMaker job, no ifs, ands, or buts!

Word cannot do all the things you outlined above, FM can.

Tony Chryseliou
X-Sender: anthonyc -at- vax -dot- queens -dot- lib -dot- ny -dot- us
From: anthonyc -at- queens -dot- lib -dot- ny -dot- us (Tony Chryseliou)

Hi Denise:

FrameMaker meets all of your requirments. Word is very weak in the

>* Must be able to handle large volumes*

--Word gets slow and buggy with very large volumes. FrameMaker
handles them beautifully

>* Must allow me to transform certain sections of the help into
> hypertext; therefore, it must allow me to create single source
> doc to some measure

--FrameMaker generates hyperlinks from TOCs, indexes, and between
cross refs automatically. You can also build links manually,
including links from graphic images or a part of a graphic image.
Also lets you build dialog boxes and pull-down menus. No such
capability in Word.

* Must provide the conversion utilities required to port the files
from DOS to Unix or vice versa. Other convertors would be nice:
SGML, HTML, Mac...

--FrameMaker files run on Mac, PCs with Windows, and Unix with no
conversion. Author on one platform, open on another and continue
working on the document with no fiddling and no converion. Word does
not run on Unix.

Good luck--John

John P. Brinegar,
Consulting and development
-Performance support systems
-Technical communications
Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.A.
(602) 278-7398
johnbri -at- primenet -dot- com

Before answering your question, let me tell you my background, as my
experience will surely color my answer. I am a senior technical
writer at a large mutual fund services company. In my department, we
produce software for a small number of clients (around 200). These
clients are mutual fund providers and insurance providers.

We produce manuals that range from 60-1000 pages. I consider a 200+
document to be a large document. I realize that you may be writing
documents that are much larger than this.

While I am a senior technical writer, I am senior only because of
technical expertise. I have only been with my current employer for 1
year, and I have only been a technical writer for two and one-half
years. I do, however, have experience with both Word and FrameMaker.

At my current job, we use Microsoft Word. Previously, we used
Ventura Publisher. At my last job, we used FrameMaker. Prior to
that, we used Ventura Publisher. Also, at my last job, we did draft
work using Microsoft Word.

Now, on to your question...

> My question, can you please tell me why, apart from the obvious, I
> would choose to use Word over FrameMaker, or vice versa.

> * Must be able to produce professional looking documentation;

Both can produce professional documentation. Frame has more
traditional typesetting controls and is a bit more powerful with
regard to page layout capability. However, I know from experience
that you can create complex and advanced pages using Microsoft Word
(and a good bit of patience ;)

> * Must be able to handle large volumes;

Frame is much better at this. Word bogs down at about 150+ pages
with text and graphics. Text only, about 400+. This is because
Word, by default, tries to keep the whole document loaded at one
time. There are a number of methods to work with larger documents in
Word, but Frame makes it easy.

Let me warn you, Master Documents in Microsoft Word will eat your
documents (at least in version 6.0a and 6.0c for Windows). If you
want more info, mail me back.

> * Must allow me to transform certain sections of the help into
> hypertext; therefore, it must allow me to create single source doc
> to some measure;

Ah, the siren song of single sourcing. My boss at my previous
employer shared your vision. This is one of the main attractions of

At the time, Frame did not have direct support for Windows Help. My
boss was able, however, to export the file to a MIF (Maker Info
Format) and read this text file into Word for processing. He then
converted the MIF to RTF for Windows Help. It worked, for the most
part. This was, however, a *very* intricate hack!!!

Word can go pretty easily to Windows Help, if you keep the goal of
writing so you are not specific to hypertext or print at the front of
your mind at all times. Otherwise, you will have to edit out all of
the references to "see above, below, preceeding, later in this

Frame also has conditional text, which is implemented fairly well.
We used it to create multiple manuals based off a single core. Well,
at least we produced a design and it worked in theory. In practice,
we started using conditional text, then copied the entire document to
a new file and edited from there. So there was a shared original
source, in a sense.

> * Must provide the conversion utilities required to port the files
> from DOS to Unix or vice versa. Other convertors would be nice:
> SGML, HTML, Mac...

Word dosen't provide DOS to UNIX out of the box. I am sure some
external formats are available. Frame has some converters, but I am
not sure how much.

Word's HTML export works fairly well. I use it for my Web
publishing. Expect to see some very exciting products from Frame as
they have teamed with Adobe after working on an HTML project
together. I think the product is called Adobe and Frame Publishing
Solution. (catchy name, eh?)

> * Must expertly handle multi-document features: headers, footers,
> indexes, table of contents, footnotes, cross-references, etc.
> * Must allow such multi-documents to be easily maintained.

Frame, Frame, Frame. If you are serious about big, complex
documents, do yourself a favor and get Frame. Microsoft Word is a
*great* Word processor. In fact, I often say, "You can have my copy
of Microsoft Word when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers." But,
it is just a word processor. Frame is a publisher. And a damn fine

At my current job, we would use Frame. Our clients, however, demand the
electronic source files. Frame is to complicated for their staff, so
we chose Word. Our long document needs are a bit more humble than
yours, I suspect.
Both are excellent, however. I hope you get many responses. Please
summarize for the list! Good luck.

David Mitchell (mitchell -at- sky -dot- net)
mitchell -at- pulsar -dot- sky -dot- net


Hello Denise,

Perhaps I can pitch in a few semi-informed pennies. I'm a tech writer
at a small unix service provider. I recently finished converting an
engineering manual for online viewing and have done a few other paper
and htext projects.

I need some input from other technical writers/publishers regarding
the best process to use to produce software documentation. We
currently go from online help to printed matter. I would like to
reverse that process, i.e. produce the online help from the printed
documentation. What tools do you use to do this? We're currently
looking at Word 6.0, but frankly, I don't think it will fit the bill.

Perhaps. If you don't use it for your word processor now, there's no
reason to start. On the other hand, if your paper docs are pubbed
with Word, then it's a good idea to use it, perhaps in combination
with adobe acrobat.

My questions are:
1. Have any of you produced single source documentation for both
online and printed documentation?

Um, "single source", meaning using the same files for both paper and
online publication, is a good theory, but poor practice. As you've
discovered, starting with online and going to paper isn't too tough.
You can almost get away with slapping your help files together and
sticking a table of contents on the whole thing, assuming the docs are
organized and written well.

Okay, well, no, it's not that trivial, but my point is that you go
from a small box to a large one, and have a good amount of
flexibility. You can do nothing and have your information rattling
around some big container, but still be accessable, or you can move it
around a bit so it fits the box better. But, you don't have to touch
the content.

Trying to do the opposite--slide paper pages onto an electronic
desk--you are immediately confronted with the mother of all layout
issues. How do you make it all fit? If you have a paper version of a
collection of help files, no prob; just reverse the process. Chop up
the collection of short topics into files and you're finished. Skip
out early for a beer. If you have any other type of book than a
reference, the situation gets sticky. Topics may stretch for several
8.5x11 pages, with a few graphics tossed in. It just won't fit. Are
you going to make the reader scroll through a few feet of dense text
(even if they can read it)? Please assure me, Denise, that you aren't
that cruel.

Now, mix in the reason for having electronic docs--faster and easier
availability of info. In a word, hypertext links. Two words.
hypertext links. and search engines. Five words. Fine.

To make your info 1. readable and 2. accessable, you'll need to take
those original paper-output files and chop them into itsy-bitsy chunks
of grade-A info stew meat.

I can sum up the above ramble (you still with me, Denise?) in three


(whew, and that's just q1. I promise to be more brief, but seeing
unreadable and un-navigable crap put out by so-called "technical
communicators" who've single-sourced gives me hives on my pimples on
my hemroids.)

2. What software (page layout/text editing) do you use?

Hey! I know this one! I've used the word/pagemaker combo in the
past. For putting out mid-size paper docs easily, there's nonething
better. But, we're talking paper and online. For that, we use
framemaker. Everything you've heard about it for multi-file long docs
is true. Auto t. of c., auto indexing, auto-numbering, auto-xrefs,

Unlike v4 of pagemaker, it's a good enough word processor that you
don't need Word. Don't try running it at home on your mixmaster
though. You need a fast computer (040, 486, unix (reg. tm.)
workstation) for it to keep up with your typing. However, it's not
nearly as good as PM as a complex layout tool. Our marketing dept.
(her name is lynly) dreads trying to use it for even the most simple
brochure or mailing. It's adequate for spot color, but again, PM is
much better if you're doing 4-color output with traps, etc. It also
has an (ahem) interesting interface.

Now, the kicker. I've yet to find any product that combines being a
decent word processor and a terrific long document producer with the
absolutely kick-ass hypertext features framemaker has. If you want to
have some semblance of the efficiency of single-sourcing your
documents, buy it and buy it now. I think you can get a demo from
frame (800-u4frame). (btw, I get a gargantuan commission from 'em.
They tell me it's in the mail.)

Setting up any type of a link is easy--from text, graphics, or pop-up
menus. Adobe acrobat (much to my chagrin) doesn't allow you to make
your own menus. If you're in a unix environment, you can make your
online doc send commands to your computer. For example, I made a
system that when a user clicked a button, an xterm window appeared
running vi for making notes. Click other buttons and other windows
displayed various text files. Simple. The actual hypertext command
was "message system xterm -e vi notefile". Of course, you can use
this type of link with anything that's legal on the unix command line.
Write a script to <insert cool thing here> and link it to your
electronic page.

Well, that wasn't so short after all. Sorry.

3. What is the process? For example: Unix text editor to convertor
to DOS PageMaker to printing bureau.

Now, this will be quick. The process is: Write paper-bound doc in
FM. Plan online version including formatting and ht links. Make copy
of files. Reformat and add links. In house, notify users what
directory the online files are in and where framereader (the doc
viewer) is. Done.

I've used FM on mac, hp, and sun pooters. It (and reader) is also
available on windoze.

4. Finally, what does your hypertext development system consist of? <<<

Oh good, even quicker: Framemaker.

Any more questions? Ask me, if you dare.

Tim Leggett
Apex Computer


I teach FrameMaker at work but use Word exclusively at home.
Here is my take on the various issues:

In article <41iim4$qan -at- rcogate -dot- rco -dot- qc -dot- ca> you write:
>The major contenders to the race appear to be Word and Framemaker.

>Some very important criteria (for me) are:
>* Must be able to produce professional looking documentation;

I think both are full capable of doing this, although if you are
looking at generating what I call "book quality" documentation,
FrameMaker is a much better choice than Word.

>* Must be able to handle large volumes;

FrameMaker can easily handle book length documents. Word can
also, although I think FrameMaker provides better tools and a
user interface for this.

>* Must allow me to transform certain sections of the help into
> hypertext; therefore, it must allow me to create single source
> doc to some measure;

Both FrameMaker and Word can do this, although I don't know
how easily for your application.

>* Must provide the conversion utilities required to port the files
> from DOS to Unix or vice versa. Other convertors would be nice:
> SGML, HTML, Mac...

The next (lastest??) version of FrameMaker supports SGML and HTML
and runs on PCs, Macs and UNIX workstations. Word does not seem
to work as well, although it can be done.

>* Must expertly handle multi-document features: headers, footers,
> indexes, table of contents, footnotes, cross-references, etc.

I am pretty sure that Word can not do this at this point.

>* Must allow such multi-documents to be easily maintained.

FrameMaker has much better multiple document control than Word.

kevin -dot- r -dot- kuehl -at- att -dot- com
Organization: AT&T

I may be slightly biased here. I have used Frame for over 4 years now
and have used Word to do only memos a long time ago. I have, however,
tried to keep up with other writer's comments on Word. I think you
would do best to use Frame.

- Obviously, both of these products can create professional looking

-Frame seems to handle large books better. My understanding is that
Word does not deal with the multifile books as easily as Frame does.

- Hypertext markers are added directly to Frame files. You can easily
create single-source docs. I am using Frame to create online help
and, in the near future, online docs - all from the same source as the
printed docs. That's pushing your luck but with a bit of organization
and prior planning it'll work.

- Frame files work on UNIX, DOS and Mac without any conversion
(assuming you have Frame on each platform, of course). There are many
products out there that take Frame files to SGML or HTML including
FrameBuilder, WebMaker, Quardalay's WebPublisher, and I'm sure many

- Frame does all the book features automatically. I'm not sure but I
believe I've heard that some of these things are not so automatic in

- I'm not exactly sure what you're looking for in the last point.
Creating and maintaining a book is what Frame is all about.

In addition to these points, not too long ago we had a thread going on
how often each of these products crashed. The gist I got out of the
discussion was that Word crashed often (someone I believe said about 3
times a week for that person) and most people had never seen Frame

As always, this is strictly my opinion and, as I mentioned, it is
slightly biased. I hope it was some help to you though.

Have a nice day.

Sally Derrick
Tivoli Systems Inc.
sally -at- tivoli -dot- com

> Some very important criteria (for me) are:
> * Must be able to produce professional looking documentation;

FM allows you to format your layout in varied ways. The method used
by FM is through the Master Page, Paragraph Tags and Character Tags.
The Master Page is a template that allows you to define standard (note
that the operative here is standard) page layouts that you can apply
as needed. The paragraph and character tags provide a standard way of
formatting the text. If you use the same Master Page, Paragraph and
Character Tag names, you can create different template files that can
port across different usages. For example different page sizes, A4,
US Letter, custom page size. You can also use a different template to
format for help screens using the same Master Page, Paragraph and
Character Tag names. You only have to import the template, you do not
have to reformat for each appliclation use.

> * Must be able to handle large volumes;

The FM handles large files. From personal experience I have had no
problems using 1 MB files on our Macs, and these are not
top-of-the-line machines, nor do they have more than adequate RAM.
The book feature of FM allows you to segment the larges book by
chapters, making them more handy for use.

> * Must allow me to transform certain sections of the help into
> hypertext; therefore, it must allow me to create single source
> doc to some measure;

Depending upon the file format you must use for help, FM is very good.
It has its own hypertext ability that is exceptionally versatile.

> * Must provide the conversion utilities required to port the files
> from DOS to Unix or vice versa. Other convertors would be nice:
> SGML, HTML, Mac...

All FM files are cross-platform compatible. We make our books on
Macs, though our customer support people use Windows. No real
problems. The same holds for Unix.

FM5 has a barebones translator for HTML, for a full featured version
you need to check out Quadralay's HTML converter.

If you pay the extra, FM5+SMGL is available. I understand that it is
very competent.

> * Must expertly handle multi-document features: headers, footers,
> indexes, table of contents, footnotes, cross-references, etc.
> * Must allow such multi-documents to be easily maintained.

FM does not allow you to manage headers and footers detail from an
external view, e.g., you cannot manage headers and footers across
multiple files from an external source. Either the headers and
footers must reference a third source, or you must open the file to
manipulate them. Otherwise, you can do many different things with
them using variables and Master Pages.

The way FM handles indexes, table of contents, cross-references, and
such, I find to be far superior to Word. I also find it to be much
faster. The number and kind of graphics that can be imported and used
by FM, and the way you can reference, rather than embed them is
superior to Word.

Use Word if you are going to write business letters, but not to make
serious documents. Word does not have the power, nor is it designed
to do long, complex documents.

Word is a word processor with pretensions of page layout. FrameMaker
is a document processor that has the adequate tools handle page

Oh, by the way, I think it also does color much better than Word.

Scott Turner sturner -at- metronet -dot- com
Fax: 214-242-1083
Voice: 214-323-5532
Newsgroups: comp.text.frame
Organization: Control Systems International, Inc.



I have not used Word. I have used Framemaker for years
however and would highly recommend it. Version 5 has a new
HTML WEB-compatable thing that looks quite nice, though I still
use version 4

I have written two novels and numerous short stories. It is wonderful
for that and handles my 100,000 word novels on my 486 running windoze
3.1 very quickly and efficiently.

I have used it quite a bit more in my work environment where I have
put it through a bit more grueling applications and it has always
lived up to the challange. It is a terrific, professional tool.

Cliff Johns johnsc -at- il -dot- us -dot- swissbank -dot- com

Hello, Denise -

I've been a technical writer for almost 14 years, and used a variety
of word processing and desktop publishing systems on mainframes,
minis, and personal computers. I have been using FrameMaker since
1991, and although I haven't used the most recent versions of MS Word,
I feel that there is no comparison between the two when it comes to
publishing large books and in maintaining one source for both printed
and online documents.

Many writers object to FrameMaker's structure; it is comparable to
structured programming languages that require you to set up templates
before you begin writing or coding, and adhere to those templates.
That is why some people find it annoying to use the formal paragraph
styles in Frame. However, because of the structure imposed, Frame is
easily portable. Frame documents can be used interchangeably on Unix,
Mac, and PC platforms. Documents truly ARE interchangeable, it's not
just marketing hype.

There is a huge difference in underlying concepts between a desktop
publishing system and a word processing system. The description of
your needs implies that you really do need a publishing system.
Frame's methods of using master pages for running headers and footers,
it's highly developed hypertext capability, and its structure which is
close to SGML and compatible with it -- all these things make me
believe you would not be as happy with MS Word.

Right now, my company is in the process of converting some documents
for an online documentation system. I am one of the few writers here
who uses Frame (gives you a clue about standards, doesn't it??) and my
documents are far ahead of most writers in the conversion process.

In addition to my experience with Frame, I've recently been applying
for jobs in the Bay Area, and about 99% of the jobs posted require
Frame Maker experience. Most of the major software companies in that
area have standardized on Frame, and I think it's because it does the
best job.

Well, I have certainly run on and on. I hope I have been some help,


Karyl Severson
Technical Writer, Product Development
ADP Dealer Services, Portland, OR, USA
Newsgroups: comp.publish.electronic.developer

Since you asked. Even with the Frame5 problems I have had as an
"advanced user," I would recommend it over Word. Especially
considering your criteria.

- Frame is a lot more flexible in the layout department. You can make
multiple master pages,and change between portrait and lansdcape pages
in the middle of a document (say you wanted to include a really wide
table or something). It handles paragraph and character styles a lot
better too.

- Frame is known for its ability to handle large volumes better than
any other product. We have several manual chapters that are over 200
pages, and have never had a problem. (Well, they take a while to

- I'm not sure how you would transform sections of the help into
hypertext, but Frame's cross-referencing makes hypertext links that
can be very useful for help situations. You may want to get more info
from someone else on this one.

- By saving the Frame file in MIF format, you can port it between
Unix, Mac, and the PC (my company works in all 3 and we haven't had
problems, even going between Frame 5 on Mac and Frame 4 on Unix).

- In my experience, Frame blows Word out of the water for handling
things like headers, footers, tables, indices, and tables of contents.
Partially due to their variable definitions and cross-referencing
formats. The learning curve is kinda steep, and Frame5 has some bugs
with how it handles larger tables, but it offers a lot more than Word.

- Individual document maintenance is probably going to be the same for
either one. But Frame's "book file" strategy allows you to group
together several files into a Book file (basically, a list), and
maintain certain aspects across all documents in the file. For
example, you can update cross references for all files in one step
from the Book file. Frame plans to add more features to Book files in
the future.

So my vote goes to Frame. Overall, it's the better of the two choices
for maintaining large, complex, professional-looking documents.

lisa -at- gordian -dot- com
20361 Irvine Ave.
Santa Ana Heights, CA 92707
714.850.0533 FAX

I haven't used Word much (just enough to decide FrameMaker was much
better for my purposes), but I've used FrameMaker a lot. So here's my
2 cents . . .

>* Must be able to produce professional looking documentation;
FrameMaker can definitely do this. Have you ever seen the Novell
Buyer's Guide? It's done using FrameMaker. So are Novell's reference
manuals. FrameMaker can do it much more easily than Word -- that's
why I quit using Word. In particular, defining and applying paragraph
formats was much simpler with FrameMaker. I don't remember why,
though. I think it took fewer mouse clicks to apply paragraph

>* Must be able to handle large volumes;
How large? The Novell Buyer's Guide is around 500 pages, I think.

>* Must allow me to transform certain sections of the help into
> hypertext; therefore, it must allow me to create single source
> doc to some measure;
Not sure about that one . . .

>* Must provide the conversion utilities required to port the files
> from DOS to Unix or vice versa. Other convertors would be nice:
> SGML, HTML, Mac...
Not sure about this one either. FrameMaker must provide the utilities
for porting files between DOS and UNIX, since it's available for both
platforms, but I haven't seen them. I think it provides an SGML
converter, but again, I'm not sure.

>* Must expertly handle multi-document features: headers, footers,
> indexes, table of contents, footnotes, cross-references, etc.
FrameMaker does this beautifully. You can define "master pages" and
put headers, footers, variables, etc. on them, and all this
information will show up automatically on the body pages. (You can
also put headers and footers on body pages, of course.) Indexes are
easy; you just go to the place in the text you want indexed and put a
marker there, and then automatically generate the index. The table of
contents is automatically generated based on paragraph formatting.
Not sure about footnotes; never used them. I know it can do
cross-references, but have never done them.

>* Must allow such multi-documents to be easily maintained.
FrameMaker does this. You can take, say, all your chapters, and put
them in something called a "book." Then you can generate the index,
table of contents, etc. You can open any chapter or the index or TOC
from the book. Any time you make a change to a chapter or chapters
and want the changes to be reflected in the index or TOC, you just
select "generate book" (or something) from the menu and it updates

X-Sender: kaking -at- saul2 -dot- u -dot- washington -dot- edu
Newsgroups: misc.writing
Organization: University of Washington, Seattle


I don't know what the obvious decision that would make you choose
FrameMaker over Word or vice versa but I can discuss how FrameMaker
handles your important criteria.

* Must be able to produce professional looking documentation;

Frame does do good looking documents, but that also depends on
how well you design your documents - Frame gives great power,
but with the power comes some responsibility!

* Must be able to handle large volumes;

Frame has a "book" file which allows an entire document to be
split into smaller parts that are manageable.

* Must allow me to transform certain sections of the help into
hypertext; therefore, it must allow me to create single source
doc to some measure;

Frame's own help document is just a frame file that uses hypertext
links (not HTML but some internal link mechanism) so hypertext
like documents can be created.

* Must provide the conversion utilities required to port the files
from DOS to Unix or vice versa. Other convertors would be nice:
SGML, HTML, Mac...

There is no conversion needed going from Frame on DOS to Unix or Mac.
The underlying files (MIF) are the same on each platform.

* Must expertly handle multi-document features: headers, footers,
indexes, table of contents, footnotes, cross-references, etc.

As I understand your question, yes, Frame does this, particularly
in the context of a Book file where you may want cross-references
over multiple files.

Frame also allows templates to be created relatively easily that
will have standard format (headers, footers, ...)

Footnotes aren't really a problem, though you have to be a little
tricky when there are multiple footnotes on the same page.

One thing Frame doesn't do automatically is citations, these have
to be done manually, though the cross-reference can be used to
maintain the actual reference to the particular publication.

* Must allow such multi-documents to be easily maintained.

I've found Frame to be relatively straightforward.

Note I am not (nor ever have been) employed by Frame. On the
whole I am fairly positive about it though I find it's inability
to handle citations well to be a major frustration.

I know next to nothing about Word, but am aware that it does
need conversions going from one platform to another.

Oh, you were also asking about conversions into other notations
such as SGML, HTML, ... I understand that Frame Maker 4.0 has some
of these - I haven't had experience of them so can't help you
there. In principle there is no reason why it can't be done and
I believe that a colleague of mine was able to convert from
Frame to RTF.

Pat Place prp -at- sei -dot- cmu -dot- edu
Newsgroups: comp.text
Organization: Software Eng. Inst.;
Carnegie-Mellon U.; Pittsburgh, PA 15213 _USA_


Providing that they both meet the criteria you specify, I would
probably choose FrameMaker as it is closer to a DTP product than Word
(it's actually classed as a document processor I believe). When it
comes to producing _really_ good looking printed material, a DTP
package is far better than a word processor as DTP gives you far
greater accuracy when placing anything on the page - PC Magazine here
in the UK did a budget DTP test (PagePlus, MS-Publisher and PageMaker
Classic) and then tried to repeat the same newsletter in Word and
found that it just wasn't possible to get the correct column handling.

When it comes to writing letters or reasonably simple documentation,
I'll use Word, but if it's a newsletter or anything with a complex
layout, I've found PageMaker is better.

Just my opinions

Pete Meloy
Profund Systems Ltd
Limpley Stoke, Bath
Reply-To: petery -at- profund -dot- demon -dot- co -dot- uk
Tel: +44 (0)1225 722922
Fax: +44 (0)1225 723900


My department is a software/design shop that produces a large number
of documents including user manuals, customer reports and hypertext
help documents. We use framemaker exclusively.

Our reports combine large amounts of text, tables and figures, and we
produce probably 100 large documents (greater than 100 pages) per
year. We recently converted all our old text manuals to on-line help
through frame, but we still can produce the manual from this for
customers who do not have frame.

Frame runs the same on most major platforms and provides an ascii
interface language (MIF) that all versions of frame can read. Frame
has an extensive book building facility. It can generate lists of
tables, figures, and any other paragraph type, as well as indices and
tables of contents. Many of these actions are automated.

The drawbacks of frame is that it is expensive, it was recently bought
out by another company, and it has a long learning period, mainly
because of all the features.

However, for a major document, I wouldn't use anything else.

Good luck with your decision,

Paul J. Melko
melko -at- telerama -dot- lm -dot- com
Newsgroups: misc.writing
Organization: Telerama Public Access Internet, Pittsburgh, PA USA


Judging from the criteria you set, I would have looked very
carefully into Framemaker. I9m using word as my wp all day,
but stick to FrameMaker when writing documentation and other
structured material. In particular, when you need to manage a
project with several (chapter) files, Framemaker has an edge.
It will allow writers to use different OS9es in the same
publication. Though I haven9t used version 5.0 myself, it
seems to approach HTML in a robust and basic manner.

BTW, why not use (Power)Macs? Framemaker runs much better on a
PowerMac than on other plattforms, it lets you build an index
document and a TOC for several hundred pages in seconds. And,
it really works across platforms, too.

Toralf Sandaker
Organization: Ra Data
Newsgroups: comp.publish.prepress

I can give you one possible reason to stay away from Word 6.0c,
running on Windows 3.11, on a machine with 8mb RAM (my setup):

In case you have lots of linked in objects, Word will turn unstable.
This has given me a lot of tedious work, as I have written a 300 page
book, using Word, the equation editor coming with word and the
fullblown MathType editor from Design Science (also delivering the
equation editor to Microsoft.)

With lots of linked in objects, Word may take more than 4 minutes to
save a 12 page document. Documents sometimes have to be as short as 6

The Word master document facility is not stable when the master
document calls many heavy short documents, so I had to paste my close
to 30 documents together manually. This resulted in some manual
labour to get chapter numbering and things like that right.

Now, I also own Framemaker 4, Reason I do not use it is that the
equations written by Framemaker are so ugly. But this may not be a
problem for you.

If you do not have lots of equations, I would strongly recommend
Framemaker. Framemaker is the champion of long structured documents,
and a lot of software vendors are using Framemaker for their

One small problem: Last version of Framemaker (5) is said to be not
very stable on Windows platform, while mac version is said to be
stable. I don't know about UNIX. UNIX versions have traditionally
been one version number behind Windows and Mac, while stability has
been very good.

That Frame is now bought by Adobe, who also have bought Pagemaker,
should indicate sound development of Framemaker into the future. Also
Adobe have a strong strategy to go for HTML.

Drawing facilities of Framemaker is better than in Word, tools for
headers, chapter numbering, figure numbering, ... are stronger than
in Word, handling of text paragraphs is better (delivering a more even
grey page), size of fonts can be varied in 0.1 pt in Framemaker, while
in 0.5 pt in Word.

Framemaker demands a strong maching, with fast graphics card, or
editing may be a nightmare. Framemaker is significant slower than
word during editing. On a Pentium with reasonable graphics card this
is no problem at all.

So, my view is that Framemaker would be the way to go, (unless lot of
equations are to be embedded in the documents.)

Jan Gunnar Moe
JanGunnar -dot- Moe -at- hials -dot- no



There's really no comparison between the two. FM was designed from
the beginning to work with large, technical documents. Word was not.
FM's cross-platform compatibility alone is enough reason. FM is a lot
more flexible, now more than ever, since it's been aquired by Adobe.
Given Adobe's push for Acrobat and Netscape, it's a sure sign that FM
will be enhanced along these lines... actually, it's pretty good
right now. As usual, you need to pick the tool for the job. There
are some jobs that Word is perfectly suited for.. these are not long
technical documents. See below for more.

>* Must be able to produce professional looking documentation;

Both do this well.

>* Must be able to handle large volumes;

FM is the clear choice from my experience. It's not that Word can't
do it. It's just not as easily done and that's not what MS intended
when they wrote the program. A better comparison would be between FM
and Interleaf (which I wouldn't recommend for other reasons).

>* Must allow me to transform certain sections of the help into
> hypertext; therefore, it must allow me to create single source doc
> to some measure;

Full-featured filters are available for both products. (see below for
a list)

>* Must provide the conversion utilities required to port the files
> from DOS to Unix or vice versa. Other convertors would be nice:
> SGML, HTML, Mac...

Isn't this sort of like the previous bullet?

>* Must expertly handle multi-document features: headers, footers,
> indexes, table of contents, footnotes, cross-references, etc.
>* Must allow such multi-documents to be easily maintained.

Word has some limitations. I don't know if it knows how to do books
in the sense of keeping track of pages, tocs, and indicies. I suppose
you can force it somehow. This is FM's strength.

I hope this is helpful!

Jonathan E. Ganz
ganz -at- pacintl -dot- com

Pacific International
Technical Language Services
Los Angeles, Palm Springs
info -at- pacintl -dot- com
Home Page:

We specialize in technical Japanese/English internationalization for
high technology companies in the United States and the Pacific Rim.

Feature/Description FrameMaker 5 Quadralay 2.0

Easy to use graphical user interface X X
(CL's is also easy to use.)
One step conversion of FrameMaker documents X X
(CL also has this.)
Mapping from Paragraph Styles to HTML tags X X
(CL - yes)
Mapping from Character Styles to HTML tags X X
(CL - I think so.)
Converts Cross References to URLs X X
(CL - The version I have doesn't, but I think they've fixed this.)
Converts Generated Hypertext Links to URLs X X
(CL - same comment as last.)
Converts Manual Hypertext Links to URLs X X
(CL - same comment as last.)
Imported by Reference GIF images into IMG_SRC X X
(CL - I don't think so.)
Imported Text by Reference into text X X
(CL - I doubt it.)
Variables into Text X X
(CL - I doubt it.)
Converts generated lists and inserts URLs X X
(CL - Couldn't do it when I tried.)
One step conversion of FrameMaker books X
(CL doesn't do books.)
Configurable converter using style sets X
(CL - probably, can't remember.)
Batch file conversions using file sets X
(CL - nope.)
Style sets and file sets are cross-platform compatible X
(CL - nope.)
Allows for arbitrary file splitting X
(CL - maybe.)
Headers and Footers for generated documents X
(CL - maybe.)
Handles internal graphics either natively X
or allows them to be exported for external handling X
(CL - maybe.)
Control of Frame numbering usage X
(CL - nope.)
Converts Frame Tables and FrameMath equations to GIF X
(CL - does a good job with tables.. can't speak to equations.)

CL - made by InterLeaf... have you had much experience with them?
They're tech support is pretty spotty at best.

Other option if you don't want to spend as much money:

o The free version of CERN WebMaker for UNIX -- even though it took some work
to configure, it does just about everything in this list. WebMaker is now
being developed with a GUI interface for UNIX, Mac, and PC by Harlequin

o Mifmucker - it works similarly to CERN's WebMaker... perhaps is easier
to use. Still has the command-line interface.


Newsgroups: comp.publish.prepress
From: jdoherty -at- bga -dot- com (John Doherty)

Use FrameMaker.


>1. Have any of you produced single source documentation for both
> online and printed documentation?

We are currently producing a manual like this, and though it's our
first attempt, it looks very promising...

We write with Word 6.0 (fully using customized style sheets), then
import into Quark 3.3 (via Word 5). When all the editing is done, and
we're ready to create on-line stuff, we export everything back into
Word, and from there save as RTF. The RTF's are used to build Windows
Help files.

You know, now that I think about what we're doing, it looks like a bit
of a mess. You'd probably be much better off using FrameMaker, as
would we.

Lowell Stewart
Capsoft Development Corporation
pub -at- itsnet -dot- com
Newsgroups: comp.publish.prepress

***AVOID Word 6.0 LIKE THE PLAGUE***. It is not at all suitable for
handing large multi file documents such as users guides. It has a
feature called Master Document which is supposed to allow you to do
this, but it just doesn't work - in fact it can totally trash your
compressed disk volumes.

It is a wonder there hasn't been a class action on MS over this
"feature". Many, many people have lost money and time because they
used it.

Use PageMaker.

If you want to use Word, use it as a pre-processor to PageMaker.

From: chrisu -at- gil -dot- ipswichcity -dot- qld -dot- gov -dot- au (Chris Undery)
Organization: Global Infolinks Internet Server, Ipswich Qld Australia



This is a horse of a different color. When you're talking
cross-platform, the tool of choice is FrameMaker, because there is no
version of Word for UNIX. Pretty plain and simple. Also, FrameMaker
has all of the tools you ask for: best for large documents, all the
online writing tools you would want, SGML (currently in FrameBuilder,
soon-to-come in upgrade renamed to FrameMaker+SGML), HTML conversion,
conversion to WinHelp, conversionn to Acrobat, and best of all, all
documents written in FrameMaker is completely portable between
platforms. Naturally, I use FrameMaker, and my work is VERY
collaborative, across networks, states and country borders. My
collaborators use UNIX, some on MAC, I use Windows. Beyond the
obvious Windows weakness for short filenames, the files are completely

If you want more information, please let me know.

Betsy Maaks
Proposals Manager
bmaaks -at- frame -dot- com

Frame Technology Corp.
Advanced Products
441 W. Huron Street
Chicago, IL 60610

> 1. Have any of you produced single source documentation for both
> online and printed documentation?

We don't do this. Our approach/philosophy is that the information in
the help is directed towards a different type of need than the printed
manual. In essence, the manual gives users an overview of what the
product does, why they want to use different features, how to do some
basic things, and scenarios of how the features can be used. The
help, on the other hand, gives specific information and procedures to
assit a user in understanding the interface presented to them. This
difference in approach precludes using a single-source document.

> 2. What software (page layout/text editing) do you use?

We use FrameMaker on the Macintosh. Some of the writing departments
in other locations of the company use it on the PC. Since the files
are transportable between the two platforms, it makes things fairly

We write in FrameMaker. Sometimes when there is an outside
contractor, Word for Windows is used with a template of style names
that match the paragraph tags used in Frame. Then, the files can be
imported to Frame and match the layout we use with a minimum of work.

When the Frame files are completely laid out, indexing done, TOC's
created, etc., the files are printed to PostScript. The PostScript
files are what gets sent to the printer and imported into their
imposition software for creating the book's signatures.

We also turn our books into Adobe Acrobat files for distribution on
CD-ROM and to site-license corporate customers. FrameMaker 5 makes
this really easy to do. Eventually, we may turn some documents into
HTML files. Again, FrameMaker 5 makes this fairly simple.

> 4. Finally, what does your hypertext development system consist of?

We use the Windows help compiler and RTF files. Nothing fancy.

Hope this helps! :)

Cindy Abernethy
Symantec Corp. - Beaverton office
(formerly Central Point Software)
cabernethy -at- symantec -dot- com
cabernet -at- teleport -dot- com
cabernet2 -at- aol -dot- com

:We currently go from online help to printed matter. I would like to
reverse that process, i.e. produce the online help from the printed
documentation. What tools do you use to do this?

> Sound like a job for FrameMaker/FrameViewer, but why are you
reversing a sensible sequence ?

> Are you obliged to produce the on-line help in any particular format
? Win help perhaps if you were thinking of Word.

:1. Have any of you produced single source documentation for both
online and printed documentation?

> I've been involved in generating encycopedias from text databases
for several years. Output was generated for a variety of different
purposes : to be sent to typesetters ; for electronic publications
and In house proofing.

:2. What software (page layout/text editing) do you use?
> Framemaker, allied with Datazone's excellent *Mifmaker* for page

> However, try thinking of things in a different way. You might find
it more profitable to store your text in a suitable Database ( e.g.
the venerable BRSsearch ). Then use a report writer to generate
output for different purposes. Get the report writer to generate
MifMaker marked up text for output to FrameViewer, FrameMaker or
direct to print, or generate HTML or whatever.

> MifMaker parses a very economical markup language into MIF ( Maker
Interchange Format). Anything which you can do in Frame with a mouse
you can markup in MifMaker, but unlike MIF you can do it in a few

> This would be a top heavy method only if you have a small amount of
documentation. Your Hypertext links and X-refs would be made far
easier to maintain within a database that outside of one, also you can
keep track of different editorial processes far easier once entries
have been coded in a database.
> Jenny's the expert on subject X so ask her to edit entries coded
> X and entries where X appears more than four times .

> Software authors change central utility name from *foo* into *bar*
> - rename database entry *foo* to *bar* ( hypertext entries point to
> this record number ).
> - Search for *foo* in database, edit those entries.

>In effect I'm saying its more worthwhile to spend time thinking of a
flexible way of storing your data, rather than *re-tooling* each time
your output requirements change.

Hope this is useful.
Organization: Graham Duncan: Database Publishing Services


Hi, Debbie. I'm using Word and hoping to switch to Framemaker.

>* Must be able to produce professional looking documentation;

Word can, if the format is not too complex. If you need complex
layouts (side by side paragraphs, text straddling columsn, you'd be
better off with Frame.

>* Must be able to handle large volumes;

Word gets very slow on anything much over 75-100 pages. There is a
master document "feature" that is supposed to let you work with large
documents by splitting them across mutliple files, but it is virtually
unusable due to memory limitations in Windows 3.1. Upgrading to
Windows 95 may solve that problem, but I can't be sure of that.

>* Must allow me to transform certain sections of the help into
> hypertext; therefore, it must allow me to create single source doc
> to some measure;

Word can do this only if you use Wex-Tech's Doc-To-Help. It's easier
in FrameMaker as any Frame document can be read with FrameReader or

>* Must provide the conversion utilities required to port the files
> from DOS to Unix or vice versa. Other convertors would be nice:
> SGML, HTML, Mac...

Again, you want Frame. Frame files are binary compatible across DOS,
Mac, and UNIX platforms. The new version converts to HTML quite
easily. (Word can convert to HTML 2.0, if you use the Internet
Assistant add-on, but the conversion is not very good. (No table
support, for example). Frame's appears to be better, but again, I
haven't tried it.

>* Must expertly handle multi-document features: headers, footers,
> indexes, table of contents, footnotes, cross-references, etc.
>* Must allow such multi-documents to be easily maintained.

Forget Word, unless they fix the master document feature in the
Windows 95 version. Even then, it'll probably be too slow to be
usable on large documents.

From your needs, as stated above, I think you want to go for Frame.
My needs are similar to yours, and I'm desperately trying to convince
the powers that be that we have to switch away from Word.

Keith Soltys
Technical Writer, Technical Development
Dow Jones Telerate Canada Inc.
ksoltys -at- io -dot- org

Organization: Intelligence Network Online, Inc.

If you are looking to maintain a single source for printed and
hypertext deliverables, you almost have to go to FrameMaker at
this juncture. The amount of macro programming required to let
you generate both kinds of output from a Word file is ugly.


Hi Denise. We are just changing over from Word to Frame. Word is a
good WP package that has some DTP fetaures, but in my opinion it is
not up to producing long documents with many graphics (in my case,
software manuals). Documents less than 50 pages, with no more than
one graphic per page, are probably manageable with Word.

I spent a lot of time trying to recover from problems in Word. I
thought it was just bad luck, or something I was doing wrong, but I've
since seen reports from many technical writers saying that Word's
Master Document feature is buggy and almost unusable for long
documents. Some problems I've had:

- a header suddenly swapped with a footer (no, really!)
- section formatting lost when printing
- some graphics have to be positioned by hand, depending on where they
happen to fall on the page. That is, if a screen dump comes out at
the top of a page, I have to put in a different offset to make it
come out the right distance from the following paragraph.
- the text of one page suddenly inserted into a header
- the usual GPFs from working with Windows
..and more.

Frame is designed for this work. Word is a good word processor with a
few badly implemented features tacked on to make it look like a real
desktop publishing system.


Stuart Burnfield (slb -at- fs -dot- com -dot- au) Voice: +61 9 328 8288
Functional Software Fax: +61 9 328 8616
PO Box 192
Leederville, Western Australia, 6903

I am afraid I cannot speak for framemaker I have never used it, but I
have used Word a fair bit. One comment I would make, if you are
serious about your usage, be sure to use the 32bit version of word on
WinNT preferably, but even Win95 would be better than Win 3.11 or WfW
3.11. There have been all sorts of problems with Word running in Win
3.11 or WfW 3.11 and using large documents- running out of resource

I think if you are really needing desktop publishing features, go for
the desktop publisher ie. framemaker, especially if you will be
including things in frames eg pictures, charts etc that you want to
the program to relocate automatically on the page or to the next page
as you add text above it, if you do that in Word 6 it will move the
object to the next page but will not fill the space it previously
occupied (the page before) with text and therefore you will have a
blank space on the page before. Many people have complained about
this 'feature' of Word for ages but Microsoft simply haven't fixed it
as it 'is not a desktop publishing package'.If you use only text with
no fancy charts, pics etc to organise, then Word may be OK.

cc: dwild -at- iccu6 -dot- ipswichcity -dot- qld -dot- gov -dot- au


I saw your posting about FrameMaker vs Word and Scott Turner's
response. I have not used Word (our organization -ECRI where I work,
not Temple, where I access the Net- uses WordPerfect), but I recently
did an extensive evaluation of FrameMaker and Corel Ventura (which we
also use). Of interest to you might be the fact that I found Frame to
be an extremely well done product and the Frame technical support
people to be the best of any PC application support organization with
which I have dealt. While Ventura also offers the "by reference"
capability that you like (and has done so for years), you would have
to answer "yes" to Scott's ulcer question before I would recommend it.
For the time being, we will continue to use Ventura. We have a ton of
documents already in it, and it offers several unique capabilities.
One is its extensive color separation support which I do not fully
understand but which is seen as an important feature by our
typesetting department. The other is the fact that Ventura leaves all
of the text components as well as the graphic ones in separate files.
Since we do a lot of reuse of text, this is very important to us.
From the ulcer standpoint, however, I wish we could switch to Frame.

From: Michael R. Frumer <mfrumer -at- astro -dot- ocis -dot- temple -dot- edu>


I have never tried Word, I always use FrameMaker, and I wonder if Word
has the same excellent option of making "book files" as FrameMaker

If not, this is a good argument for using FrameMaker. Is that what
you call "multi-document features"?



We set up a series of templates in Word 6.0 for a customer who wanted
to use it for long technical documents and frankly, I'd advise against
it. Don't get me wrong. Word is a terrific tool and I use it every
day, but the kinds of problems we ran into seem to be unavoidable when
you try to apply it to documents that go much beyond 50-60 pages:

1. You can't really use the automated cross-referencing feature
effectively. Word repaginates the entire document, every time you
make a link. On one of the documents, each auto-ref took 20 minutes.
Last I heard, the people developing the template had not found a way
to turn that behaviour off.

2. The performance of Master/Subdocuments is dismal. The writers now
use single files and Master/Sub feature is only used when absolutely
necessary -- basically, for the final production.

3. Mixing layouts on a page would crash Word once the file started to
get to be big.

FrameMaker is built to handle long technical documents. I'd recommend
it as a much more realistic choice. You can still use Word for
drafting parts of the document, especially if you take the time to
synchronize the Word and Frame stylesheets. But for really putting
those docs out, Frame is the product I'd recommend.

Chet Ensign Phone: (908) 771-9221
Director, Electronic Publishing Email: chet -at- lds -dot- com
Logical Design Solutions, Inc. Email(home): censign -at- interserv -dot- com

The basic difference between Frame and Word as far as I can see is
that Frame, through sophisticated variable, cross reference and
conditional text facilities, allows far shorter overall document
production times for any document that is likely to undergo review,
reissue etc. A colleague of mine, a word user, only yesterday spent
about three hours updating all figure references (etc.) in his
document. This would have taken about 2 seconds with Framemaker...

Word 6 is beginning to provide some of these facilities but they are
still very basic.

On cost, the difference is negligible when you consider this is your
primary work tool - in the UK the difference in price works out at
about one day of employee time. Framemaker also has an excellent
drawing capability built-in (A LOT faster than the Word approach, of
starting a separate application. And the drawing gets spell checked!)

The snag in all this is that Framemaker is only better if it is used
to its full capability. Casual users of applications may prefer Word
as it is easier to get started.

Hope this is of some use.

Jerry Trigger | Tel: +44 1473 642068
BT Laboratories | Fax: +44 1473 644607
Martlesham Heath |
Ipswich | Email: jerryt -at- aom -dot- bt -dot- co -dot- uk
Suffolk |
IP5 7RE |


My biggest problem with Word is the lack of multiplatform
interchangeability. We have framemaker files on the network for
editting by DOS, MAC and unix users. All users use the same files.
When we have a remote user not on our network, a dos compatible disk
is made of the file. The dos compatible disk is the only rub, it
forces file names to dos format.

Incidently, since frame has an integrated graphics package.
The graphics are editable by all three platforms. Every time I get a
Word user's file, it has integrated graphics from another graphics
package that doesn't translate well, even between Word platforms.

Larry Telle
Eastman Kodak Company
Rochester, N.Y. 14653-6001

phone: 716-726-4955
fax: 716-726-7303
email: lbt -at- barracuda -dot- kodak -dot- com


I spent 5 years in a Word environment, and now I am using FrameMaker.
I used to love Word and found it pretty easy to use, until I loaded
Word 6.0 on my pc at home, and now I can't stand it!!!

At least my version of Word 6.0 (I am now in a Unix business world
again, so I don't have others to commiserate on the pros and cons of
this version) is extremely slow and cumbersome.

FrameMaker seems to be easier to create books of files. The graphics
utility that comes with FrameMaker is quite easy to use. Whereas in
Word 6.0, I cannot easily tell when I am in or out of the graphics
mode -- very frustrating!.

I recently copied in an Excel form into my FrameMaker (Windows
version), and was pleasantly surprised that when I double-clicked on
the Excel form, the Excel tool was invoked. FrameMaker seems to
support a wide variety of formats for embedded graphics.

Off-hand, I can't remember if Word 6.0 has its own capture tool, but I
know that FrameMaker does (excuse me, but I am not at home while
writing this).

If you use Word docs for on-line help, there is a lot of conversion to
do, since you require an additional utility such as Doc-To-Help
(although it does produce pretty nice help windows).

On the other hand, if you have Frame's FrameViewer, this tools allows
you to lock and create a hypertext doc from the Frame doc with only a
few keystrokes. Plus, you can jump quickly between FrameMaker and
FrameViewer without additional processing.

There are a lot more, but I don't have the time... hope this helps

Laurie Rubin
lmr -at- syl -dot- nj -dot- nec -dot- com


Would like to see your report. We sell a series of expert systems
that automatically translate Frame texts into French, Spanish etc.
Super savings for user. We just ported the app to do that same task
under MS-WORD 6.0. We think Frame is a better choice for manuals. We
just sent 50,000 pages of FrameMaker texts to Brazil for post-editing
on PCs - the big task was done here on SPARCs. Good cross platform
transfer. Client a major Telecom will save millions $$$ and is a big
FM user. We say - go FrameMaker

John M. Smart and Team
SMART Communications, Inc.
New York, NY 10022 U.S.A.
E-mail: info -at- smartny -dot- com

I can give you several dis/advantages to Word 6, since we're fighting
Word problems as we speak:

a) Frame is an order of magnitude faster.

b) Turning on revision marking disables automatic paragraph numbering.

c) Turning on revision marking can cause repagination to go from
minutes to hours.

d) Memory footprint of Word 6 is 50% larger than Frame.

e) Disk footprint is 400% larger than Frame.

Word 6 Advantages:

a) WordBasic, if you can stand the glacial speed, can to some neat
stuff once you figure it out.

b) More third party support for filters.

c) Revision merging is cool, where multiple people can edit copys of
the document and you can "fairly" automatically merge corrections

Frame is more powerful, plain and simple. Word has more "neat"
features, but is missing many of the paragraph controls that Frame
has. I'd like to see Frame take a serious look at Word and steal some
of the nicer features, since it's alot closer to serious large
document processing than Word is.

Keith Stone
Crewstone Consulting ltd.
1001 South Marshall Suite 118
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
Voice: (910) 777-0511
FAX: (910) 777-1191


I did some work last year for a group that insisted on Word. They
paid a lot more money for my time because I had to struggle to make
Word do things that I could have done in minutes in FrameMaker. For
serious documentation, graphics, and layout, Word will cost you money
in time and productivity.

Fred Wersan fwersan -at- peritus -dot- com
Peritus Software Services, MA30/807
300 Concord Rd., Billerica, MA 01821

I have been thinking about the pros and cons of both applications

1) Word 6.0 does nearly everything that FrameMaker does, but Word
doesn't have CONDITIONAL TEXT. So if you ever need to write several
similar manuals, at least in Word you have to create several
documents...whereas in FrameMaker you use only one. Why should that
be a consideration? Because if you need to modify/update sections you
have to modify/update several documents in Word but only one document
in FrameMaker. And as a technical writer you probably know how easy
it is to forget which changes you've made where, and how difficult it
can be to keep track of several similar versions of manuals and to
make sure that each one has been properly modified/updated.

2) Word 6.0 is a hard disk space hog (unless you do the minimum
install and "only" install about 15MB of bare essentials); FrameMaker
takes up about 3MB.

3) Word 6.0 is slower than ......... (insert your favorite comparison
statement). I don't know about you, but I am running Word 6.0 on a
Macintosh Quadra 660 AV (a relatively fast machine) and I have
allocated 10MB of RAM to Word, and it still crawls. FrameMaker, on
the other hand, is cruising--even when you're working with extremely
long documents and so forth.

4) Contact this person for more information: Elaine Aragon
(earagon -at- frame -dot- com), (303) 740-6752. Don't get me wrong, I am not a
FrameMaker salesperson or representative. I don't even get to use
FrameMaker (although I would love to switch from Word). However,
Elaine is a Frame manager and does presentations on FrameMaker. I'm
sure that at least with her help you could easily convince your upper
management to stay with FrameMaker. (Please tell Elaine that you got
her address from Dee Philipp.)

Let me know how everything turns out,

Dee Philipp

D. Philipp Binggeli dee -at- dtint -dot- dtint -dot- com
Digital Technology International PHONE (801)226-2984
500 W. 1200 South, Orem UT, 84057 FAX (801)221-9254

My comments are tainted: I'm a much more experience FrameMaker user
than I am a Word user. But, from what I know, I feel the problem can
be boiled down to the fact that Word is first a word-processor, and
last a desktop publisher. However, FrameMaker is first a desktop
publisher--and is also an excellent word processor. On the surface,
Word appears to be comparable tool, but when you get down to doing
serious desktop publishing, Word falls short.

You could say that it's like buying a pickup truck--you can buy a
two-wheel drive or a four-wheel drive. In lots of cases, both trucks
will do the same job adequately. Heck, in some cases, a two-wheel
drive might even be better than a four-wheel drive--two-wheel drives
are usually lower and easier to load things into. But, if you have
rough terrain to get over, or if you have to drive in the mud or snow,
you want to have a four-wheel drive. For many folks, the
inconvenience of loading things into a higher truck is well worth the
extended capability of having four-wheel drive.

If your documentation is made up of regular letters, memos, and
handouts, Word'll probably do just fine. But, if you need a
four-wheel drive of a tool, stick with Frame. And, if you are doing
any online documentation, Frame is definitely a better tool. Scott
scott -at- vax -dot- micron -dot- com


Seriously, I've had to deal with similar requests before. And while
management seems to think that each product is idendical but Frame
costs 3x as much, that simply is NOT the case.

Take features such as paragraph formats. List what frame and word do.
Then list HOW. Frame (for me) starts getting better than word when
you see HOW paragraph formats work in a document and more importantly,
how they work accross multiple documents. I would also emphasize
items such as FrameMaker's master pages, reference pages, and ability
to work with color.

Bottom line is, if you compare feature to feature, both do pretty much
the same stuff. But, if you look at how each accomplishes the task of
putting stuff onto paper, then you see why one outshines the other.

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

As a devoted Framer, I bemoan the fact that we have to defend a
dynamite product!

FrameMaker is excellent--my opinion is, "You've used the rest, now
stick with the best." I've used Word (Mac & Windows) for years.
Word's a good product, OK for the typical office documents, but it
pales in comparison when you're ready to do serious publishing. I
cringe when I see someone trying to do a long document (10 or more
pages) in Word, WordPerfect, or PageMaker. FM eases the frustrations

I've written books (manuals & 100,000 word, multi-chapter manuscripts)
in Word. I would never try to "publish" such a document in Word,
however. Frame streamlines the process, so you concentrate on
improving the communication rather than hassling with the mechanics of
software "features." We're distributing documents through FrameViewer.
This saves tons of paper publishing & simplifies access. Plus, it
protects the material from the editing that those itchy-fingered Word
users might attempt. For DTP on the Mac, I switched from PageMaker to
FM 3 years ago. PM was (and remains) a pain to use. I have vowed
never to open PM again, as I consider FM the top publishing software
around. I use FM mainly on the Mac, but have used the X-Windows
version, occasionally.

Frame's major problem is learning it. I know that opinions differ,
and I compare its learning curve to Excel. It seems logical & easy to
pick up, but then you hit the steep mountain and struggle for a while
to gain expertise. The tutorials (at least, the ones in FM 3.0, my
initial experience) got me started. I then took a 4-day class. I
figure that training lopped at least 2 months off the learning curve,
but it still took about 4 months of daily use to achieve
comfort/competence. FM is so powerful that it does daunt even the
experienced. The features are well worth learning, though. The
conditional text, tables, and Hypertext functions are absolutely
fabulous. With such value-added power, you're inspired to go beyond
the usual word processing to enhance your communications.

Frame also meshes into WWW publication. I've experimented with the
frame2html filter, trying to port a complex scientific paper (with
tons of equations) from Word to Frame to the Web. Fun! (And those
awful embedded graphics in Word did not survive the operation. The
Frame graphics did!) I consider FM the supreme tool & the superior
choice to all competitors. Maybe we need a shootout to settle this
battle once & for all!

--Charlene Strickland
Science Applications Intl. Corp., Albuquerque

Beside 6.0 being unstable (don't let Microsoft tell you otherwise),
there is at least 1 lethal failure in Word that will get you if you're
producing printed materials.

In the footers, Word allows for as much as 1/8 inch variance in
placement of the footer from page-to-page. With the thin paper that
many companies use for their manuals, you can see through the pages
and the 1/8 inch variance looks tacky. Depending on your print shop
and if you have tight allowances on your margins, you may also end up
getting page numbers chopped off in final production.

The other really annoying feature about Word, is that if you're shy of
hard disk space, and you ever get the message "not enough disk space
to save this file" you get to reinstall Word because winword.exe
become corrupted. I could go on.

Proper tool for the job:

I don't know about where you work, but the developers are never asked
to use Edit or EDLIN to do their jobs, they get the proper editors in
which producing code is easier, faster, more productive, etc. Why
should the writers be denied the proper tools to do their jobs?

I don't currently produce printed materials, but were I to suggest a
tool, it would be FrameMaker. (Yes, I've used PageMaker 5.0 and all
of the poor interface problems from 2.0a are still there).

Hope this helps,


I have talked to several people who use Word as a DTP program recently
(past couple of weeks). Most people I've talked to who've tried Word
as a DTP tool have essentially said "don't do it, use a real DTP
product", but couldn't remember enough details about the reasons to
make much of an argument.

One thing I've noticed recently is that although Word can now print
headers on every page of a multi-page table, you still can't control
where pagebreaks occur within a table without breaking it up into
multiple tables (at least *I* can't figure out how). To me that's a
big drawback for technical docs. Between that and having to do
graphics by reference for speed's sake, plus the rumor that master
docs don't behave very well once they grow to full size, I've
concluded that it sounds like an exercise in misery. I'm happy to do
initial draft docs in Word, though, when needed. Despite my
reservations about it as a DTP'er, I really like it as a word

Hope that's some help.
Faith Weber
EA Systems Inc.
weber -at- easi -dot- com

1. Word's hyphenation and justification algorithm is far from pretty.
Frame is much more robust.

2. Vertical spacing control in Word leaves a lot to be desired.
Frame wins hands down when it comes to dealing with graphic and text
boxes that are anchored. If you have to vertically justify a column
around a spread Word is out.

3. Any color work in Word and you're cooked. Frame's capabilities
are getting there. Quark is there.

4. Page manipulation: both programs are hurting. Want to visual and
move things around on a spread?

5. Revision tracking: Word is more automatic/less complicated.
Frame's is an interesting study, but only the hardy can deal with it.

6. Going to film? Service bureaus are just getting up to speed with
Word docs. Frame has been wrung through the rollers. Word still
wreaks havic with some imagesetters, beware.

If you think of these to programs as automobile transmissions, Frame
is an automatic trans with a full range of power and speed; Word is a
manual trans which doesn't have a fourth gear (yet). Which car would
you drive on the highway?

John Webber, Publishing Technologist
Addison-Wesley Pub. Co.
johnwe -at- aw -dot- com
(617) 944-3700 X2711
Reading, MA 0186


I work for Northern Telecom as a tech writer. Several years ago we
used MS Word on Macs for our documentation until our books became too
big for Word to handle adequately. Then we dumped our Macs and went
to Interleaf on Sun Workstations. Now, we are in the process of
converting our HUGE suites of documents from Interleaf to Frame, which
we have now decided will best suit our needs.

We abandoned Word because it couldn't handle large documents, and
because we wanted a feature that would enable us to pull several
documents from one main book. Interleaf does this using a feature
called effectivity, and Framemaker does this using Conditional
scripting. We are actually using FrameBuilder, without the builder
portion of it, which essentially means its Framemaker. We also
changed to Frame so that eventually we can pull all of the information
for our documents from a central information database, using
'chunking' that Framebuilder provides with its 'structure' element.

Hope this helps you.
Good luck,

I'm a Frame fan, too. I've used Word to produce long software manuals
(Word 5.1 on the Mac) and it is a decidedly inferior tool.

Reasons to stay with FrameMaker:
indexing, cross-referencing, table of contents generation: when I
used Word, it didn't support cross-referencing. apparently there is
such a capability now. but Frame's system of tagging indexes,
cross-refs, etc., is much simpler and easier to use than Word's.
(Another less obvious advantage is that you can use cross-refs, index,
and toc entries as hypertext links; makes it easy to jump around as
you edit --- much better than Go to Page or Find for locating stuff.

book files: Word has the include file function, but has fewer
controls on pagination, etc., for same. (A book file is also easy to
use to open files or make the file's window active -- just
double-click on the file's name in the book file window.)

Frame's magnify page display feature: can you proofread 10pt Palatino
at 1:1 display in Word? I can't.

Template creation: Word's system for creating paragraph tags and for
applying those tags to a new file is cumbersome and complex. Frame's
makes a lot more sense and it's easy to reformat a document with a
template. Or globally update all files in a book with a change to
paragraph tags, page layout, or whatever.

In addition, character tags add another dimensio of control of format.
Word doesn't have character tags, I believe.

Frame is more WYSIWYG than Word.

There's more, but that's all I can think of off the top of my head.
Frame is a superior product, especially for producing books. (I like
Word's Sort feature & I like it's merge-mail feature, so I do continue
to use Word for those things.)

Changing to Word <will> have a negative impact on your productivity.

Margaret Thomas
Software Technologies, Arcadia, CA
marg -at- stc -dot- com
(818) 445-7000 x313
fax (818) 445-5548

I've heard two great arguments _to_ use FrameMaker:

o FrameMaker provides better document templates. You can literally
`pour' text into various templates to change document formats.

o FrameMaker provides better support for conditional text.

These two features provide (IMHO) far greater power, flexibility and
control over your text. It's something of a quantum leap forward.

Feature Example
------- -------

Ascii Editing Edit, vi
Text Editing Eroff, Latex
Word Processing WinWord, WordPerfect
Document Control FrameMaker, Interleaf

High end products (FrameMaker, Interleaf) also provide better
Configuration Management.

Just some thoughts....

David (The Man) Blyth
Technical Writer
Alsys (San Diego)
dsb -at- alsys -dot- com


The four-writer staff at my company currently uses Word 6 and is
going to switch to Framemaker. We had been using Ventura 4.2,
but we decided to use Word 6 in the hopes that it would better
satisfy our tech writing needs. However, Word 6 has proved a
massive disappointment.

All four of us have had this problem: Save a document at the end
of the day, come back the next morning to find the headers and
footers bear no resemblance to what they were saved as. Then
there are the notorious problems in handling large documents,
functions that don't work as advertised, and the inability of
Word to perform with any sort of consistency.

Our feeling is that Word is an educational tool--it teaches you
to swear.

We just got Word in April and have returned to Ventura 4.2 until
we get up to speed on Framemaker.

Hope this helps!

Dave Meek


> * Must be able to produce professional looking documentation;

You can do this in either package, although Frame gives much more
control over the look of the document (and much easier) than Word. It
just depends on how fancy you want to get.

> * Must be able to handle large volumes;

Frame wins this one. Word, especially on a DOS/Windows platform,
tends to use massive amounts of memory when you try to compile a large
number of files into one document and run a TOC or index. It's also
much more complicated to set up in Word than in Frame. This is one of
the areas that distinguishes a word processing program (like Word)
from a true authoring/publishing program (like Frame).

> * Must allow me to transform certain sections of the help into
> hypertext; therefore, it must allow me to create single source doc
> to some measure;

You can do this from either package by turning the document into an
RTF file. FrameMaker 5.0 has RTF conversion built in (in Frame 4, you
had to use an external RTF exporter application).

> * Must provide the conversion utilities required to port the files
> from DOS to Unix or vice versa. Other convertors would be nice:
> SGML, HTML, Mac...

Afraid you're out of luck with UNIX and Word. However, Frame was
originally written on UNIX and then ported to Mac and Windows. The
files are cross- platform compatible with no effort at all. Frame 5
also comes with WebWorks Lite which allows you to convert any document
to an HTML document. By upgrading to the full WebWorks product (from
Quadralay), you get more features. The Lite version works well
(although for the Mac, I had to get a newer version from Quadralay's
FTP site to stop it from crashing). I don't use SGML, so can't help
you with info on that one. Frame 5 also has built-in features to make
creation of Adobe Acrobat PDF files quick and easy (complete with
remembering links for TOC, Index, and cross-reference information).

> * Must expertly handle multi-document features: headers, footers,
> indexes, table of contents, footnotes, cross-references, etc.

Frame wins hands down here. It's built for this stuff and you can set
up cross-references that are automatically updated when the document
changes. This is especially nice for the reader, because the final
document refers them not just to a section, but to an actual page

> * Must allow such multi-documents to be easily maintained.

This could mean a lot of different things. However, Frame's book
feature is really a nice one for this. You can use the same file in
several different books if you want to and, with the proper setup, the
chapter numbers and all other internal reference information will be
updated to reflect the file's new position in the book.

The learning curve on FrameMaker is going to be a bit higher for
learning the ins and outs of template design/usage, master pages, etc.
However, it's well worth the effort in the long run for providing a
flexible, powerful authoring/publishing tool. If possible, ask your
Frame representative for a referral to a local person who can do some
training. We had someone come in for a two-day, hands-on session and
that really helped us out.

I used to use Word religiously for all our books and didn't think that
a package like Frame was necessary. However, my eyes have been opened
and I now admit that I was totally wrong (not necessarily the first or
last time for that!) and that Frame is the only way to fly.

Good luck! :)

cabernet -at- teleport -dot- com
cabernet2 -at- aol -dot- com


Frame does all the things you want. You don't need to convert doc
files across platforms -- Frame uses the same file format on all
platforms, reads them on DOS,MAC,Unix, etc.

FRAME 5 has HTML support.

One important feature for us is conditional text, not found in most
other products. This allows us to have one manual source for manuals
such as Programmer's guides, where a lot of the text is the same, but
there is platform specific stuff in the manual, which we can toggle on
or off depending which version of the manual we want.

Newsgroups: comp.editors
Organization: /usr/lib/news/organi[sz]ation


I used Word for Windows 2.0c for years to create large books and then
changed jobs. At my new job, I use FrameMaker 4.0 to create
similiar-sized books (150-500 pages). I have Word for Windows 6.0a at
home, but I've never used it to create a book. For your list of
questions, here are my answers:

>* Must be able to produce professional looking documentation;

Both programs do this well. FrameMaker has a definite advantage in
the area of tables - it does an outstanding job. If you use tables
extensively in your documents, I would get FrameMaker for this reason

>* Must be able to handle large volumes;

FrameMaker is better at large volumes than word. I've never had any
memory problems with it.

>* Must allow me to transform certain sections of the help into
hypertext; therefore, it must allow me to create single source doc
to some measure;

Word may beat FrameMaker here due to add-on Help File macro programs
like Doc-to-Help. If you want to use Windows Help, a program like
Doc-to-Help relieves you of the drudgery of creating links, etc. in
an RTF file which is compiled for use by winhelp.exe. Though
FrameMaker automatically creates help files with links from index,
TOC, and references using your single source doc files, FrameMaker
requires you to use its own help system (FrameViewer) which will cost
your company royalties to distribute to your customers. I'm not sure
what the cost of the royalties are currently, but I know the price has
dropped to somewhere around $10-$20 a copy. I imagine it might be
possible to create a Doc-to-Help-like set of macros for FrameMaker so
that you can create an RTF file for use by the standard Windows Help
system (thus avoiding royalties). To create the macros requires a
separate FrameMaker product - unlike Word.

>* Must provide the conversion utilities required to port the files
from DOS to Unix or vice versa. Other convertors would be nice:
SGML, HTML, Mac...

FrameMaker 5.0 is supposed to have a HTML converter, but I've heard
that it doesn't work - take that with a grain of salt - it's second
hand information. FrameMaker files can be easily transferred between
MAC, UNIX and DOS. FrameMaker has the same interface on each of these
platforms (with some very minor differences). We use all three
platformsi here - writers work in Windows FrameMaker; a desktop
publisher does final layout, etc., in MAC FrameMaker; our Help desk
views the manuals online in UNIX FrameViewer. None of these platforms
requires a special conversion - if you can read the disk or transfer
the file across your network, any FrameMaker can read the file.
FrameMaker also can create an ASCII version of the document files.
This format (called MIF) is great for file transfers across a network
when you can't send a binary file.
Frame claims to have an SGML product called FrameBuilder. I'm not
sure how this product works with FrameMaker. As for Word, I know
there are a large group of formats that you can save files in - but
I'm not sure about SGML or HTML. Someone undoubtedly will come up
with a third party product for HTML conversion

(Important Note: With any version of HTML converter - make sure it
utilizes the HTML specification you need - there are at least three
versions of HTML. Not all versions can be read by all browsers. I
think a new version of HTML - 3.0? - is in progress.)

>* Must expertly handle multi-document features: headers, footers,
indexes, table of contents, footnotes, cross-references, etc.
>* Must allow such multi-documents to be easily maintained.

In both cases, FrameMaker wins hands down. Word 6.0 may be better
than Word 2.0, but we had to create custom macros and utilities for
creating our TOCs and indexes - Word 2.0 was not flexible enough.
Compiling the indexes used to take hours (literally - you leave your
computer and return in an hour or two - hoping everything worked).
FrameMaker takes just minutes - even when hypertext links from the
index tokens are requested (even if you don't use them for online
documents - it makes it so easy to correct mistakes in the index
tokens). Cross-references to any type of style component are a breeze
in FrameMaker.

Hope this helps. Obviously, I'd pick FrameMaker.

jimb -at- atiny -dot- ny -dot- apertus -dot- com



Joe Bonchi forwarded your information request about the pros and cons
of Word vs Framemaker. My online publishing experience is very basic
at this point. However, I've been reviewing Framemaker release 5.0
and it appears to have all the capabilities you've outlined. Having
used Framemaker for multi- section documents, I know that this program
is powerful enough to handle your needs. You'll find the learning
curve steeper than with Word, but the program is excellent. It's
cross-platformed and unix friendly as well as capable for producing
PDF files for an Acrobat document. Take a look at a Framemaker 5
manual for more details. Best of luck.

CC: bonchi -at- admin -dot- njit -dot- edu, perkins -at- admin -dot- njit -dot- edu

>* Must be able to produce professional looking documentation;

Frame Maker and Word

>* Must be able to handle large volumes;

FrameMaker is very stable in handling large documents

>* Must allow me to transform certain sections of the help into
> hypertext; therefore, it must allow me to create single source doc
> to some measure;

We use Frame for this

>* Must provide the conversion utilities required to port the files
> from DOS to Unix or vice versa. Other convertors would be nice:
> SGML, HTML, Mac...

With using Frame you have no need to convert files between
MAC/DOS/UNIX. The files all use a identic binary format. And .. it

>* Must expertly handle multi-document features: headers, footers,
> indexes, table of contents, footnotes, cross-references, etc.
>* Must allow such multi-documents to be easily maintained.

We have choosen Frame for generating Quality assurance manuals because
Frame can do all this - and more.

We are producing large and professional documents since years and have
made our experiences with Word, WordPerfect and Frame. For absolute
professional use Frame is the better tool.

With best regards

Uwe Herczeg - uherczeg -at- uhmac -dot- unterland -dot- de
Newsgroups: comp.text.frame
From: uherczeg -at- uhmac -dot- unterland -dot- de (Uwe Herczeg)


If you have a hypertext-linked Frame document, you don't have to dance
it around to produce the online version. It is WYSIWYG. With a
little planning, you could probably put together a modest help system
for a small product in about a third of the time i would take to
produce a Word>RTF help system.

Tom Dobrovolny
Software Administration
tdobrov -at- pyramid -dot- com
Newsgroups: comp.text.frame
Organization: Pyramid Technology


PageMaker is not suitable for long documents. FrameMaker is by
far the best solution over Word 6.0. The FM book making feature,
tables, hypertext, doc compare, master pages, conditional text,
indexing, are the best. Frame is available on PC, Mac and UNIX.
All versions create a common file format. I'm also a consultant
and use FM. If you buy Version 4 now, you will get Version 5
free in August. V5 will include a html filter.

From: control -at- qms -dot- ebay -dot- sun -dot- com (QMS Account)
Subject: Re: Basic question about need for DTP


When at Hewlett Packard, I used FrameBuilder 4 (that's the SGML
version) for hypertext. There really isn't much to it. It's a page
dump onto the screen with the cross-references hyperlinked. Of
course, you can choose to make modifications to your text if you want
to make it more interactive, but that is essentially your choice.

Beware, though. FrameView licenses are expensive ($50 each license, I

-David Castro
techwrtr -at- crl -dot- com
From: The Tech Writer <techwrtr -at- crl -dot- com>
Newsgroups: bit.listserv.techwr-l
Organization: Oklahoma State University, Stillwater OK


A little background on my thoughts. I responded to you once before on
this issue, and respond again only because I think the folks over in
DTP have missed an important boat. (This section is boring; if
you've already lost interest, just stop now and delete the message.)

I am an information developer, which is to say that I work with books,
pamphlets, hypertext, WWW, fact sheets, etc. I use the tool and
method that will most effectively present the information to the
recipient in a method and medium most effective to the content and use
of the information.

My company (Jostens Learning Corporation) recently looked for a way to
create a combination online/offline information system with links
between the two. I headed up the project to look at this problem.
The results of our research are too big to include in an email
message, but I'd be happy to share the information with you on the
phone if you're interested. Here is a quick review.

Our main concerns were 1) automation--how much already-written
material could be kept in its current (or near current) form; 2)
maintainability--how easy was it to maintain the source, and how long
did updates take; 3) unit cost per customer/shippable unit--how much
did it cost for the customer to read the product; 4) level of
integration--how well do the pieces of the project integrate and what
tools exist to enhance that integration.

We ended up looking seriously at three authoring tools for our
finished product--RoboHelp for traditional help/hypertext work,
FrameReader from Frame Technologies for online-deliverable paper doc
(FrameMaker is our technical documentation development tool), and
Adobe Acrobat for online-deliverable paper doc. The theory was that
we would produce a traditional help system with links to the
appropriate section of the paper-doc viewing engine, then include
electronic copy of all the paper doc so that customers could see
either/both types of information.

Based on these needs and design parameters, we were stuck with a major
problem. Frame provides single-source, fully hyperlinked capability
but the reader costs way too much--we needed 20,000+ copies; Frame
was going to charge us $20,000 a year for access to the source code,
but unlimited distribution. Acrobat was free (plus the $300.00 cost
of the SDK), but required manual creation of the PDFs and manual
insertion of all the hyperlinks--an addition of two to six weeks at
the end of our document development cycle.

We ended up not doing the project pending further negotiations, and
delivering unlinked paper and electronic materials. I prototyped both
methods anyway.

Frame is the best technology. It does everything we need (including
functioning as a database front-end for large database searches) from
single source. It was the most efficient, technologically advanced
solution. If money were no object we would have done it in an

Acrobat is cheap and well-installed. Its acceptance on the WWW is
notable and new tools are being developed for it every day. I have no
doubt it will gain all the features we want within the next five
years; unfortunately it doesn't have them all right now.

If you are interested in further discussion on the matter I would be
happy to share what I have learned with you. I can do so via email or
via phone conversation, and would look forward to the opportunity to
exchange ideas. If not, that's cool too.

Hope this hasn't bored you beyond belief. Hope the project works out.

Scott R. Parkin
Jostens Learning Corporation
sparkin -at- jlc -dot- com
(801) 223-3615





I saw your post in both the WinHelp group and the TECHWR-L list, so I
assume you want to make Windows Help. Because of that, I strongly
recommend Word. FrameMaker's RTF export function just does not work
well. In addition, many tools to speed Help creation (Doc-To-Help,
RoboHelp, etc.) are add-ons to Word. If you use Frame, you will have
to do all the coding (adding footnotes, typing context strings
[correctly!], adding character formats) manually, then hope the RTF
export is done correctly.

I have used Word for large projects. Many claim Frame is better. I
find Frame harder to use, although I have to use it at my current job.
The Frame vs. Word debate is akin to the Mac vs. PC one. A recent
article in Intercom said that in a survey Word was still the most-used
tool. Frame was second.

Hope this helps.

Chuck Martin
Technical Writer, FWB, Inc.
techwriter -at- aol -dot- com
America Online, Inc. (1-800-827-6364)


>* Must provide the conversion utilities required to port the files
> from DOS to Unix or vice versa. Other convertors would be nice:
> SGML, HTML, Mac...

Make sure that you'll be able to handle the fonts you use on
DOS/Windows in the UNIX environment. Frame5 claims to handle this
much better than in the past. However, you should be sure to check
this very carefully. Otherwise, you'll find that any font not
available on UNIX will become Times Roman when you open it on the UNIX

Bruce Brolsma
Cambridge, MA
Organization: BBN Software Products
Newsgroups: comp.text.frame

Denise, I'm a technical writer (software development)....I'll try to
answer some of your questions.

The tool for single-sourcing printed and online documents is
Doc-to-Help by Wextech. One thing to know, they require Word for
Windows 2.0 or 6.0. You don't say what platforms you're using and
that makes a BIG difference.

I've also used PageMaker (great for graphics, newsletters, but NOT for
long, hierarchical technical documents), FrameMaker ( a bloody
nightmare....), WordPerfect 6.0 (great but we had lots of network
problems and abandoned it), and Word 6.0 (my choice of all...I've
learned to tweak and cajole its little eccentricities pretty well
now). If you are a UNIX shop, you might consider Frame....many tech
writers use it and love it. My experience was 4.0 for Windows and I
found it really cumbersome to use.

We do use Doc-to-Help for online authoring, but I have to admit that
every bone in my body rails at the idea of single sourcing. Online is
a different animal than printed docs. It's used differently, and it
serves different purposes. I don't recommend single sourcing.

Most publishing houses can now handle about any of the major formats.
The best thing is to find one that uses Docutech and they just feed it
your files and it does a beautiful job. For platform interoperations,
PageMaker and Word are great. Especially Mac to/from PC.

If you have any other questions, I'd be glad to help. Also, check out
the tech writing newsgroup: bit.listserv.techwr-l We also have a
subscription mail list that basically echoes this newsgroup. VERY
heavy traffic.

Good luck.

Jane Bergen
janeb -at- iadfw -dot- net
Organization: Internet America





* Must be able to produce professional looking documentation;
>>Frame is better, more sophisticated, can produce more professional
effects with less kludging.

* Must be able to handle large volumes;
>>Frame wins this one, hands down.

* Must allow me to transform certain sections of the help into
hypertext; therefore, it must allow me to create single source doc
to some measure;
>>Word is more portable--the source document can be easily imported
into Doc-to-Help, Robo-Help, Multimedia Viewer, etc. The site
licensing for FrameViewer, which is what would be needed for any
on-line doc produced out of Frame, is prohibitive.

* Must provide the conversion utilities required to port the files
from DOS to Unix or vice versa. Other convertors would be nice:
SGML, HTML, Mac...
>> Again, Word wins here. Frame is very proprietary. The SGML
edition of Frame, just released and still unseen by me, might help
somewhat. But Frame is notorious for not supporting other
vendors--even if they say they do.

* Must expertly handle multi-document features: headers, footers,
indexes, table of contents, footnotes, cross-references, etc.
>>Frame wins, hands down. It is much easier to autogenerate these
types of elements, once a template is established, than it is to do in

* Must allow such multi-documents to be easily maintained.
>>Frame would be easier, but it could be done in Word.

* My question, can you please tell me why, apart from the obvious, I
would choose to use Word over FrameMaker, or vice versa.
>>This depends on what you really want, especially in terms of on-line
and other documentation. If you want highly sophisticated print
material, with some on-line help built off of it, and are willing to
undergo the steep learning curve and headaches of putting a Frame
template into place, Frame is the better tool. If the primary focus
is on-line documenation, with print being the step-child (as it is in
so many houses, perhaps mistakenly, these days), Word is the better
choice. Or SGML...

Steve Cameron
technology coordinator
Newgroups: bit.listserv.edtech


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