dealing with legacy documents

Subject: dealing with legacy documents
From: Kat Nagel/MasterWork <katnagel -at- EZNET -dot- NET>
Date: Sat, 21 Oct 1995 09:15:32 -0400

Sue Daffron asked about transferring legacy documents to a new (and
currently supported) application like FrameMaker. She ended with the

>I know this question is a little off-topic for the list,
>so please e-mail any suggestions/comments to me directly.

Actually, I think this is a perfect topic for the list. It expresses a
common problem faced by technical writers, and asks for an opinion about
professional tools.

There is no one right answer. I've done several contract jobs involving
updates to documents that were originally produced in a variety of outdated
applications, from old word processors early versions of DTP packages).
The one contract that involved Ventura was interesting. No single
application converted everything accurately. Every package I tried left
huge gaps, inserted garbage characters, trashed the graphics, and did
seriously weird things to the formatting. I wound up:

(1) setting up document templates and style sheets in FrameMaker
(2) copying each graphic to a sep. EPS file and stripping it from the doc file.
(3) saving the naked Ventura text documents as MSWord files.
-although that version of Word was also outdated, I
was able to find a Frame filter for it.
(4) importing the Word file into the FrameMaker template and editing the text
(5) applying styles and positioning graphics frames
(6) getting updates to the graphics from the client to replace outdated
photographs, etc.
(7) importing the graphics files by reference into the FrameMaker document.

I chose FrameMaker over the other available options because:
o I like the way it handles style sheets
o many of the docs had extensive tables, with several different table formats
o it was easy to set up templates for a variety of doc formats
o the conditional text features made it relatively easy to add material
for a series of tutorial manuals
(never actually had time to do that, though)
o I was comfortable with the Book, TOC and Index features.

Other folks might have made different choices. This worked for me.

@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

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