On responses to "Doc Group Needs Advice"

Subject: On responses to "Doc Group Needs Advice"
From: "Marlene J. Geary" <marlene -at- NECA -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 3 Jan 1997 23:09:19 -0500

Thanks to the many who have responded to my e-mail! I haven't yet had a
chance to respond to you all, but I will this weekend.

Here's a summary of the findings (as requested by quite a few folks), plus
some more info about my situation:

1. FrameMaker is the package of choice, at least among the group of
respondents. No need to start "discussions" back and forth on this list
just for our sake! The DTP and WP software packages mentioned in my post
(FrameMaker, PageMaker, and Word) are designed for different purposes, and
we need to find the package that will meet our needs best. Lots of folks
seem to use FrameMaker as a word processor as well.

2. Document size issues are my group's biggest concern. While it's not
100,000 (!) pages, it *IS* approximately 50,000 (well, 48,937 to be exact)
pages that we're talking about. I only mentioned customer documentation in
my post, but my position also includes the creation and maintenance of docs
we deem "internal." (our technical support/help desk department's process
documentation).

3. I need to be able to organize and index documents that will be very
lengthy: some of our internal books approach the 700 page range. The
software we choose will need to be able to create books that link the
technical documentation we create with other files that contain textualized
versions of the reports our software produces.

4. With regards to Help Text: Our software's help text is currently
written in our old word processor, and it will remain that way for some time
to come. So, help authoring tools will be of no use to us in the next year
or two. However, the package we choose MUST be able to export to flat ascii
text file, which it appears FrameMaker will do.

5. We're also considering an investment for FrameMaker on a few Unix boxes
attached as X/Windows workstations to our host machine (an IBM RS/6000).
However, that may be far greater cost than the company had planned for our
little group. I'm not going to rule out this possibility, however.
Ideally, I'd like to stick to software that stays under $1000 per user.
FrameMaker for Windows '95 is $895 per user ... for Unix it's $2595, but
that may be for a multiple user license.

6. For those who mentioned FrameMaker and its use of SGML -- you can buy
FrameMaker with its SGML export add-on for an extra cost (from what the
Adobe home page says). But, new packages are available which quickly and
simply convert TOCs to HTML hyperlinks. They're flagged as bookmarks if you
bring the FrameMaker document into the Acrobat reader. (Please forgive me
if I'm saying something that makes me sound like an idiot -- this program is
entirely new to me).

7. About the learning curve for FrameMaker. My company's already made the
commitment (sp?) for outside training, so...no problem. I'm very familiar
with Windows-based programs, although my colleague is not. We know
absolutely nothing about X/Windows. There has been time set aside to learn
the product, so...we should be ok if we go with FrameMaker.

8. I almost think this topic should be part of the FAQ for this list, no?

9. I'm willing to write a paper on our experience and post it to an archive
somewhere, if there's interest.

10. I'm keeping all of the e-mail I get re: this topic. If anyone wants a
copy, let me know. Also, there apparently was a discussion on this same
topic in early 1996, and several users kept an archive of that file.
However, it no longer seems to be available.

Thanks again to everyone.

Marlene


====================================================================
| Marlene J. Geary | I sing because my heart | Writer/Editor |
| "Mars" | demands it and would | DISC |
| marlene -at- neca -dot- com | break without it. | Farmington, CT |
====================================================================

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