Re: FrameMaker Discrepancy

Subject: Re: FrameMaker Discrepancy
From: Phillip Wilkerson <phillipw -at- ALLENSYSGROUP -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 6 Dec 1996 09:03:35 -0500

At 04:29 PM 12/4/96 -0600, Eric Haddock wrote:
> How can there be two so divergent views about this application? Some say
>you can't call yourself a TW without living in Frame, and others, from
>students to already employed TWs, either haven't heard of it before or
>don't personally know anyone who uses it.
> A lack of training availability, a lack of requirements for Frame
>proficiency for jobs, and a lack information, have all been addressed by
>list readers. If Frame is _it_ for technical writing, how could these
>conditions exist?
> Perhaps it's a regional thing? Are there more people using Frame in,
>say, California than there are in say the midwest or Canada?
> Where are you? Do you and your colleagues use Frame as the main tool?

It doesn't matter whether FrameMaker is a regional phenomenon,
a student package, or whether it is a popular program. What
matters is: will FrameMaker meet your technical writing needs?

Allen Systems Group has an 8-person technical writing staff. We are
based in Naples, Florida. I don't know of anyone else in Southwest
Florida who is using FrameMaker, and there are maybe a dozen or so
software companies in this area.

Our move to FrameMaker was necessary because our documents are so
large (400+ pages) with many chapters, appendixes, TOC, indexes,
tons of GUI screen-shots, icons, extensive cross-references, etc.
We outgrew packages like Word and WordPerfect (in fact, WordPerfect
told us to quit calling, because WordPerfect was not designed for
documents as large and complex as ours). The reason these packages
could not handle our documents was because they require you to
have the entire document loaded into memory in order to generate
the TOC, indexes, cross-references, etc. Even on PCs with 32MB of
RAM, we simply could not get a clean generate, and it seriously
impacted our workflow and throughput, not to mention writer morale.

We moved to FrameMaker after carefully researching the options for
over a year. We brought in both Interleaf and FrameMaker for 3-month
trials. Then, we had one writer convert totally to FrameMaker on
our largest project (1200+ pages) before committing the whole dept.
Once we saw that FrameMaker could in fact handle our largest project,
we moved the entire dept. over to FrameMaker. We have not looked back
since. FrameMaker is thorough. It addresses every need and allows us
to generate documents without requiring the whole document to be
loaded into memory. We have not had a single problem with it. We
use Windows 95 and the FrameMaker for Windows '95 32-bit version.
The learning curve is steep and is a big drawback. But once you've
got training and a document conversion process in place, you're
on your way to hassle-free large document processing.

As the manager of a technical communications group, you could not
pay me to go back to the technology of Word or WordPerfect. It
would be committing technical writing suicide for my group to do so.

Just my 2 cents.

Phil Wilkerson
Manager, Technical Communications
Allen Systems Group
Naples, FL
phillipw -at- allensysgroup -dot- com

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