Re: Folio vs. HTML

Subject: Re: Folio vs. HTML
From: Graham Tillotson <graham -at- MEGSINET -dot- NET>
Date: Thu, 11 Feb 1999 20:47:54 -0600

I've used Folio 4.1 on two projects, both of which were PeopleSoft
implementations. Folio Views is the online tool of choice for PeopleSoft
(v.6 and higher), and with the latest releases of PeopleSoft you get copies
of Folio Builder and Folio Publisher, both of which are invaluable if you
want to develop efficiently.

My opinion on Folio is mixed. I certainly like the power and the
compression. The searches are lightning fast, and the Underhead compression
utility packs most of your content to 40% its original size. The
import/export capabilities are also nice--you can kick infobase content out
to RTF, HTML, whatever, and the results are decent. The quality of the HTML
as always seemed a bit questionable--I was never overly impressed by Folio's
own pages (www.folio.com).

To be critical, though, Folio can be problematic. You have to install Views
and Builder just right or the shared components get jumbled up and errors
abound. (For what it's worth, consider the large number of error/resolution
Web pages at the Folio site--is it good support or extensive CYA?) Once you
get Folio running, it helps to be technically adept if you want to develop
efficiently. For example, suppose you want to do a global search and replace
on styles in a Folio infobase. The only way I found to do this was to export
the entire thing to a flat file, open it in Word and do a search and replace
on what amounts to an SGML-like string, and then reimport back into an
infobase. Graphics and file formats pose another challenge if you are
importing anything other than stock formats, because if you want custom
filters you have to write them yourself (the DLLs, that is). Just realize
that when working with Folio it isn't Word or Frame. You have to get
climatized to its limitations.

My biggest frustration, though, had to do with licensing and pricing. I
called the reps at PeopleSoft and they were rather clueless about Folio,
even though it is their chosen third-party documentation tool. I then called
the reps at Folio and they were equally clueless about PeopleSoft. It took a
few months to get the licensing and pricing worked out for our specific uses
since Folio operates under a "use our tool to publish and pay us royalties"
scheme (that to this day I can't quite figure out).

One final point--realize that if you are getting into Folio for its
online/Web publication capabilities you may find the certification courses
and tests a bit off-target. I took the Views test twice and failed it both
times because while studying I focused on
documentation/formatting/conversion topics, but the tests focus on query
syntax and technical minutia. Folio comes from the realm of legal and
publishing, and the tests are designed for those who want to publish online
books or those who need to know how many double-edged blades were used in
Zippy Mart holdups from January 1992 to July 1995 when the temperature was
between 40 and 56 degrees.


========================================
Graham Tillotson, Senior Consultant
Whittman-Hart, Inc. Chicago, IL
========================================

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