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:Framemaker vs Ventura From:Tim Altom <taltom -at- IQUEST -dot- NET> Date:Sun, 21 Jan 1996 19:05:00 EST
>I've seen many references to FrameMaker on this list, and none to Ventura,
>and I wonder if there is something I ought to know! I've used Ventura since
>version 1.1, and have never seen FrameMaker. Can someone tell me the
>advantages/differences or whatever in relation to producing maintainable
>No need to tell me the disadvantages of Ventura, I know them all!
FrameMaker is what Ventura might have grown up to be if it had had a happy
childhood. Ventura was kick-keester software in its day, far eclipsing
PageMaker for many advanced functions in documentation. But it was the child
of a company that didn't understand DTP and couldn't market it, and later
cast it out to be picked up by somebody else to raise. Meanwhile FrameMaker
was being developed expressly for long and structured documents, and it was
being developed and marketed more shrewdly than Ventura. Guess who won.
Our president, Jerilynne Sander, knew Ventura almost literally from the
ground up. She was with Xerox when Ventura was released in beta, and she
learned it in that form. She was a Ventura trainer and developer for years.
But the marketing of the software wasn't keeping pace with its capabilities,
so FrameMaker took its market away. Now most of what you can do in Ventura
can be done in FrameMaker, with more besides. (Although, to be fair, there
are still some capabilities in Ventura that Frame doesn't do at all or
doesn't do as well.) FrameMaker's major competitor isn't Ventura, it's
InterLeaf, which is also under-supported.
One of FrameMaker's major benefits is that it's cross-platform compatible.
It runs on some two dozen platforms, most of them UNIX flavors. We've run it
on UNIX, Mac and Windows. One of FrameMaker's major drawbacks is that it
isn't worth using for shortie docs, say of fewer than 50 pages or so.
FrameMaker's power, like that of Ventura, is its ability to define so many
things up front, before the text entry starts. For short docs, we use
PageMaker.(On those few occasions when we have short docs.) But FrameMaker
is now our tool of choice, because it allows us to define so many things in
the template and because it's enormously stable (or was, until 5.0!) and
incredibly flexible. It can be programmed to the point of becoming a
foundation to build a whole new application on. We use it for multi-file
creation, database publishing and similar exotic things. The demand for it
is growing, and since it was purchased by Adobe, Frame/Adobe doesn't train
on the software anymore, leaving it to training firms like us. We do lots of
template development and text entry in it, too.
I don't know how the Adobe purchase will pan out in the future. Already it's
seriously depleted the number of portholes we developed within Frame. Our
"special" phone numbers don't go anywhere anymore. Our list of names is
growing rapidly shorter and our ability to end-run the bureaucracy is
disappearing. But we're seeing a growth spurt, so maybe it'll all be a wash.