Ventura vs Framemaker

Subject: Ventura vs Framemaker
From: James Owens <ad354 -at- FREENET -dot- CARLETON -dot- CA>
Date: Thu, 25 Jan 1996 21:01:40 GMT

As a Ventura user contemplating an upgrade, I'm following the
Ventura/Framemaker/Word threads with interest.

If I upgrade, it will not be because Ventura 3.0 DOS/GEM can no longer
meet my publishing needs. I use it to create everything from newsletters
to software and hardware manuals, ranging from a few pages to over a
hundred, and it does a fine job. These documents incorporate tables, line
illustrations, screen shots, descriptive callouts, and full indexes where
appropriate.

Ventura has never given me a problem; it's extremely stable and very
powerful. When I began using it in 1988, its feature list included
automatic drop caps, side-by-side paragraph formatting, and interactive
table editing -- features only recently made available, as I understand
it, in competing packages.

It is lacking in clever effects -- running text along a curve, for
example, or wrapping columns to the contours of illustrations (this is
possible, but laborious) -- but in a technical publication I never miss
them. It has a minimal text processor, so I use a word processor. It has a
minimal graphics tool, so I use a professional graphics tool. Unlike most
modern packages, Ventura DOS/GEM concentrates on one area, WYSIWYG
document layout, where it delivers ample power and truly remarkable speed.
Ventura DOS/GEM runs tolerably well on a 286-12, and therefore much better
than Windows-based packages on any platform.

If I'm thinking of giving up the old horse, it's only because it's so long
in the tooth. I can't import anything higher than WP5; MS Word wasn't even
around when this package was written. I can't get drivers for modern
graphics cards. Besides, I'm using OS/2, and the limitations imposed by VP
in a DOS Window, running its own special GEM video driver, are beginning
to chafe.

That said, I would never consider using Word or WordPerfect to publish a
hundred-page, fully illustrated and indexed manual. That would be like
trying to drive a nail with a pair of pliers: sure, you can do it, but who
needs the aggro?

My question is whether a change to Framemaker or Interleaf is a foregone
conclusion.

I attended a seminar for the introduction of Framemaker 4 a couple of
years ago, and I still have the glossy pamphlet. It seemed more or less
equivalent to Ventura, but with unique features including text search /
comparison / check tools (which embraced callouts and captions as well as
the body), a more powerful drawing editor, and sophisticated network
capability with the add-on Frameviewer. I learned from a colleague that it
also had some shortcomings, such as an inability to easily hang
[grammatical purists need not retort] headlines in the margin in a
single-column layout.

As for Interleaf, I used to work at a shop that used both Interleaf and
Ventura to produce documents to Canadian Department of National Defence
specifications. These specifications include a requirement for
side-by-side English and French, with corresponding paragraphs beginning
at the same page height, and with text extending to the bottom of each
column. In Ventura this was moderately easy. In Interleaf it was almost
impossible. Extensive page-by-page intervention was required to maintain
the alignment. The owner of the shop was in negotiation with Interleaf to
patch this problem.

Then there's Corel Ventura. I know that Xerox lost market share when it
brought out its Windows version. I suppose up at Xerox, their hearts
weren't in it; after all, to invent the interface and then watch Bill
Gates steal it, modify it, and then force you to redesign your product for
it must have been pretty galling. Whatever the reason, the Xerox Windows
version was said to be slow and clumsy without offering much new
functionality, and it never caught on.

Since then, though, Corel has reportedly improved the Windows fit and
added features. I've heard complaints about the import filters, but other
than that the reviews have been good.

Does anyone have experience with both Framemaker and Corel Ventura, who
would be prepared to comment? I would be particularly interested to hear
what converts from one to the other found most useful, and what
they missed.

Also I have heard rumours that an OS/2 version of Framemaker is in the
works. Can anyone confirm them?

--
James Owens ad354 -at- Freenet -dot- carleton -dot- ca
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada


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