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Two more key factors (that a few people have only alluded to) in
choosing what document production software to use are 1) control over
price and 2) purchasing power (i.e. the ability to instigate and approve the
purchase orders and funds for your own software).
I wish I could buy the tools that would be best for my job, but alas, like
many writers, I have to compete for scarce organizational resources. As
much as I would like to spend the money for better tools, I don't get to
make such decisions. I am sure many other writers share this lack of
I suggested to my boss that we check into Framemaker a few months
ago. After doing some preliminary research I discovered that even with
an academic discount (I work for a university), it was still going to be
several hundred dollars more expensive than Word 7.0, which we get for
$26 per copy! Since my documentation is considered "value added" and
not billable, it was difficult to argue with the fact that Word was cheaper
and basically does what I need it to without requiring additional
investment of the department's resources.
Just because some of us don't use the "best" tools for the job doesn't
mean that we are necessarily Luddites. It may mean that the tools we can
afford or already have do the job well enough to get by. Or it might mean
that we use the tools we could afford to be trained on. Training is an
added extra expense for many non-basic tools (such as Framemaker)
that employers either can't or won't pay for. If a corporation can't afford
or is unwilling to pay for Framemaker training because of expense, how
do you expect universities to be able to find affordable qualified trainers
for their tech comm students (the origin of this thread, if I remember
Some of you who can't imagine living without Framemaker obviously work
in larger documentation groups and/or in larger organizations than me.
The reason why many companies stay with Word is that they know they
will always be able to find someone who can use it. The same is not true
of Framemaker. Only a few of the job ads I have seen in my immediate
area mention Frame knowledge. I wish I had this knowledge or could
afford to get it, but my current employer doesn't see it as cost effective to
purchase an expensive tool and expensive training when Word is so
inexpensive and so widely used.
Not griping, just putting a different spin on what I see as an unnecessary
argument about choosing and learning the "right" tools.