RE: Last Hurtle Before Changing To Framemaker

Subject: RE: Last Hurtle Before Changing To Framemaker
From: Lief Erickson <lerickson -at- mqsoftware -dot- com>
To: "'bdoonan -at- coreco -dot- com'" <bdoonan -at- coreco -dot- com>, TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 10:36:49 -0500

Brian Doonan is switching from Word to FrameMaker and wants to know:

<<I like Framemaker and think it's the best choice for my company. However,
since this decision will effect the entire company I need further
information. The problem is how to incorporate Framemaker into a work place
where Word has dominated for years. I'm the sole tech writer at my company
by the way. The engineers are accustomed to creating, adding, etc. to a
Word document on our network in revision (track changes) mode. I would then
take this same document and produce the finished product from it.>>

Lief Erickson's response:

It might be. As the lone technical writer, FrameMaker must be right for you
- not the engineers. The engineers are not writing the documentation, you
are! If you are more comfortable with Word and like it, then use it. I, too,
am a lone writer and FrameMaker has allowed me to do numerous things a lot
easier and quicker than Word. I also have the added benefit that the
developers don't know or have FrameMaker, which means that they can't muck
with the documentation (this alone is worth the price of FrameMaker!).

I don't want the developers directly changing my documents. Just like I
don't have access to change their source code, they don't have access to
change my "source code." If they want to change, correct, add, or edit
something, they can tell me, send an e-mail, fill out a form, follow a
process, send a singing telegram, whatever they want, but they cannot do it
themselves. It is not their job to write the documentation - it's mine. I am
responsible for it.

If they want to continue to use Word to write their notes, ideas,
corrections, and so on, let them.

The "conversion" process is then very simple:

1) Developer sends you the Word document.
2) You re-save it as .rtf (FrameMaker 5.5.3 cannot import .doc files - it
hangs. I forget if this is fixed in 5.5.6.)
3) File > Import > File.

You're done. Kinda.

You will still need to convert the imported file to text (not .txt - unless
you want). Then must clean up the imported paragraph tags. This can be very
tedious. (Hint: use Global Update.) You can make this last part much easier
if you create a Word template that matches your FrameMaker template, but
there really is no way around cleaning up each paragraph - unless you force
the developers to use Paragraph styles in Word. (Brownies won't even make
them do that!)

After you are done, if you want the developers to edit in Word, buy an
add-on product for FrameMaker called mif2go (formerly mif2rtf, from Omni
Systems, It is $295 and worth every penny!). The FrameMaker
Save As RTF feature is excruciating slow - view the archives
for more about this. Mif2go allows you to say as .rtf (and it also creates
WinHelp and HTML), so that your developers can edit in Word, save the
changes, and send it back to you. This keeps them from directly editing your
FrameMaker documents, but allows them work "in" your documents.

Good luck!

-Lief Erickson
Sr. Technical Writer
MQSoftware, Inc.
lerickson -at- mqsoftware -dot- com

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