SUMMARY: Word97 or Framemaker for printed docs (long)

Subject: SUMMARY: Word97 or Framemaker for printed docs (long)
From: Lani Hardage <lhardage -at- RMTECH -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 26 Mar 1998 17:43:07 -0800

The question: We've had all our docs online but are going to do some
printed ones.
What are the pros and cons of Word97 vs. Framemaker? Or what led you to
choose one over the other? I've searched the archives but didn't find a
discussion on this. (Apologies to those who have bandwidth issues. My
search algorithm was incorrect... But I didn't find anything in the
archives comparing Framemaker to Word97.)

Once again, this group comes through with great info ( which I will pass
on to my boss who wanted Word 97). Thanks to respondents below.

Penn Brumm: We use both, but I prefer Frame multiple times over Word.
*easy to create online docs (...through WebWorks)-[for
single-sourcing]...both hardcopy and online docs
*easy to update cross-references, TOCs and Indices
*can create book files (generally one chapter to a file)
*rearrange major sections by moving individual files within the books
*easy to use drawing tools
*inport graphics files within anchored frames [drawing behave]

Word 97:
* has some serious problems with long documents
* TOC and Index are not nearly as comprehensive...
* drawing tools are primitive and have a tendency to move
* Use [for] programmers [who]... don't want to learn a new
word processing package and some electronic input is better than tiny
scraps of paper

Tim Altom: ... We're a FrameMaker house here because we do long
documents, generally over
50 pages and with scads of tables, graphics, and other such big stuff.
97, or any WP, is just way too anemic to do these things. Try doing
references in Word, or markers, or any number of other things. Try using
infamous master document feature, just not on something you want to
Try using styles in Word to insert text automatically. Try getting table
headings right. Try getting Word to play nicely with PostScript. Try
its drawing objects to stay "stuck" on the drawing layer. Try going
cross-platform. Try doing run-in heads. Try doing truly
paragraph-independent layout. Ugh.

Frame is also superior for doing dual docs, print/online... Frame
has loads of automated features that you'd have to program into Word...

Katav wrote: FrameMaker will provide better formatting, better text
kerning/feathering, better graphics handling/positioning, tighter pages
(for fewer pages), turn pages, better xrefs, tables with continuation
lines, rotated text in tables.

BUT, Ventura does most of the above better (except
inter-chapter xrefs). On the other hand, Word (97/V8) does a much better
with html output

Kathleen Pilipovich wrote: ...My experience has shown that Word starts
choking at
a document with 100 pages. Other TWs I've talked to have given the same
info. IMO, the master document function in Word is a joke... I would
investigate other DTP programs besides Adobe FrameMaker such as Corel
Ventura... find the DTP that best matches [your] requirements...

Dan Comly wrote: I use Word 7.0 for Windows 95 because that is the
standard corporate
word-processing tool. A couple of contractors have suggested that we
change to FrameMaker because it is a superior tool for technical
writing. However, it is too much of a niche product. If we wrote in
FrameMaker, we would have to maintain the documents ourselves because no
other groups would have the tool. We need to be able to hand the
documents over to others in the business with the expectation that they
will be able to make minor changes themselves. If we didn't have this
fallback position, we'd be swamped.

John Wilcox sent me a zipped file (gold mine) of a huge summary when
this was discussed in Sept. 95 (pre-Word 97) and a long, excellent
review of what's good and bad in Office 97. (wilcoxj -at- wdni -dot- com)

Keith Soltys has an article comparing the details called "A Word User's
Perspective on FrameMaker" on his web site at:

Richard Inch wrote: ... Once I got by the rudiments and started to
really push Word, it
fell far short of my expectations. Graphics disappeared. It was a very
cumbersome interface, and even with macros it seemed to take forever to
the simplest tasks. Generated TOCs and Indexes pointed to the wrong
I was constantly fighting Word, for example trying to keep
intact was a ongoing battle. To meet ship dates, I was working weekends
battling Word, just trying to get a Duplication Master ready for our
printer, not enhancing the manual. Finally, after missing yet another
deadline and holding yet another 300 page manual that Word simply
to open, even the backups got corrupted once I opened them, I went to my
boss and said, "no more". Honestly, I was spending almost one full day
week battling Word. (I got a very powerful computer, 96 Mb RAM. Didn't
help. I had MS customer support on speed dial. Didn't help)

Indeed, there are some things about FrameMaker that I would like to see
improved. But, I've not missed a deadline nor have I worked weekends
I got FrameMaker. I can not imagine going back to Word.
(end of quotes)

Looks like I got my answer.

Lani Hardage
Documentation Manager
Risk Management Technologies
lhardage -at- rmtech -dot- com

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