Summary: Tech Writing with Ventura (long)

Subject: Summary: Tech Writing with Ventura (long)
From: "Anderson, Keith" <keith_anderson -at- GOOITECH -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 6 Feb 1998 09:54:58 -0600


First of all, I want to sincerely thank everyone who sent me their
information. I actually received nearly 50 replies, so I could not reply
to everyone personally.

In my original post, I stated that I was building business case for and
against publishing tools. Specifically, I needed information on Ventura.
I asked if anyone could relate their experiences with it as well as
objectively compare it to FrameMaker. I believe that Ventura and
FrameMaker are in the same class of publishing tools because of their
long document capabilities. Because I received so much information, I am
going to try and make this as brief as possible by generalizing the

About Corel:
Corel rebuilt Ventura from the ground up. Even though the current
release is version 7, Ventura is pretty much a new application. That
means there are problems with Ventura. Some people felt that Corel
released Ventura 7 prematurely. Corel is reported to be slow in
responding to problems and must release new builds regularly. Also,
Corel hasn't marketed Ventura very much. It has a core group of die-hard
users, but very few new users. Corel promises that Ventura 8, which is
in beta testing right now, will be much more stable and marketed much

File corruption:
Ventura is reported to corrupt files when working with large documents
(200 pages or more). This corruption is caused by:
* Numerous footnotes
* Entering text in Page Layout mode
* Inter-chapter cross-references
* Numerous graphics in Windows metafile format (*.WMF)

Corel has identified all of these issues as problems and claimed to have
fixed many of them in the newest build. However, because of the ice
storm in Canada, shipment of the newest build has been delayed. Nobody I
corresponded with has the latest build yet.

Online output:
I received the following comments about Ventura's HTML and PDF support:
* PDF files are bigger than they should be
* PDF files had problems with a Docutech printer
* HTML output is excellent
* HTML style-mapping is great, but Ventura doesn't save the mapping

Misc. positive comments:
* One user prefers it over applications like PageMaker when laying out
smaller projects like flyers and newsletters
* Ventura is flexible
* One user published nearly 200 technical books last year and is
planning to do the same this year
* It has excellent graphic tools

Misc. negative comments:
* Printers run or look at you funny when you tell them your document is
in Ventura format
* TOC and indexing is not easy unless you are very familiar with
Ventura's "quirks"
* There is a small user base and virtually no in-depth documentation

I decided to recommend FrameMaker. I did evaluate Ventura and it has a
lot of excellent features. However, its instability and poor support
have made it a bad decision for mission critical documentation. Based on
what I've seen, Corel Ventura 8 will be worth looking at IF it is more
stable, has better documentation, and Corel markets it appropriately.
Otherwise, I think it has an unsure future.

Keith Anderson
Technical Writer

keith_anderson -at- gooitech -dot- com
(847) 879-4813

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