TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: FM vs PM From:Kat Nagel/MasterWork <katnagel -at- EZNET -dot- NET> Date:Thu, 21 Sep 1995 07:01:09 -0400
Charlene Wolf wrote:
>My company is currently running both FrameMaker and
>PageMaker to produce documentation, and my boss would like to support
>We are a manufacturing company and most of the documentation we produce
>is operation and parts manuals. These manuals are used in the field so
>they must be in hard copy form. We also produce the advertising
>literature for the company - everything from tri-fold fliers to magazine
>ads. There is talk that we may produce manuals on CD-ROM, but that is far
>in the future. We are running exclusively on a Macintosh platform.
>Given these variables, which DTP would most fit our needs?
I also deal with the same variety of documentation products: manuals,
catalogs, training materials, brochures, and one-page marketing stuff (ads,
fliers, press releases).
I use both FrameMaker and PageMaker. I -like- both FrameMaker and
PageMaker, when I can use each of them appropriately. It is difficult to
imagine doing without either of them.
PageMaker is ideal for the shorter, graphics-intensive marketing stuff.
FrameMaker is ideal for the longer documents. Fancy color graphics and odd
positioning of text (for magazine ads, etc.) are inconvenient in Frame. On
the other hand, I will never again try to do a parts manual (or a
multi-chapter operations manual, or training materials, or anything else
more than three pages long) in PageMaker. Been there. Done that. Never,
-ever-, EVER again.
I've done side-by-side comparisons for a couple of types of document. A
tri-fold brochure with a couple of imported graphics and fancy text effects
took about 3 hours in PageMaker, 4 hours in FrameMaker. The situation was
different for a simple parts catalog (5 pages, mostly tables, with line
drawings and thumbprint photos of some of the items). Template design,
text entry, formatting, graphics importation and fine tuning took 12 hours
in Frame. The same document took almost 25 hours in PageMaker. And I've
had -years- more experience with PageMaker!
I am currently working on a small (30 page) operation and maintenance
manual for a peice of equipment used in industrial materials handling and
transportation. It has 8 short chapters with descriptive text, graphics
and procedures. There's also a specs sheet, glossary, table of contents
and a short (1-page) index. I wouldn't even bid on the contract if I had
to do it in PageMaker. The extra time it would take to manually do what
FrameMaker does automatically would be prohibitive --- I'd have to charge
less than minimum wage to make the total bid competitive.
Bottom Line: if someone were holding my laptop for ransom until I made a
choice, I'd have to opt for Frame.
Hope this helps.
@Kat_____ Kat Nagel
MasterWork Consulting Services Rochester, NY
LIFE1 (techwriting/docdesign) katnagel -at- eznet -dot- net
LIFE2 (vocal chamber music) PlaynSong -at- aol -dot- com