Re: Software of choice?

Subject: Re: Software of choice?
From: Jean Hollis Weber <jean -at- wrevenge -dot- com -dot- au>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 16 Oct 1999 21:58:23 +1000

At 11:37 10/14/99 -0500, Russell Griechen <russgri -at- netbci -dot- com> wrote:
>I need to do some technical writing for one of my projects. I have
>Microsoft Publisher.
>Since there is a lot of layout and strict placement of there a
>better layout?

The short answer is: yes, there are better layout programs. The REAL
question, however, is: what's the best choice for your particular project?
You haven't told us enough to know whether Publisher is suitable or not.

The two answers I've seen so far (from Geoff Hart and Mary Reinhardt)
appeared to contain some unspoken assumptions about you and your the
project. If you are doing a class project or rarely need to produce this
sort of document (you didn't say what sort it is or if it's a one-off or an
ongoing requirement), then spending the relatively large sum of money to
buy FrameMaker, and putting in the relatively large amount of time to learn
to use it, is not necessarily the most appropriate choice.

There's no need to buy a Lear Jet when a small car will get you where you
want to go -- especially if you have to learn to fly the Lear Jet before
you can go anywhere.

If you already have Publisher 98 or 2000 and know how to use it, you might
as well continue to use it unless you discover that it won't do what you
want. It will in fact do quite complicated layout and is often used for
newsletters and similar layout-intensive projects -- far more than the
"invitations, banners, posters" that Mary mentioned.

While I agree there are better tools, and I certainly wouldn't recommend
(or even consider) Publisher for a documentation department, I think it
could be quite adequate for many jobs involving strict layout. As, indeed,
is Word.

On the other hand, if you know (or expect) that you'll be doing a lot of
technical publishing, or if whatever you're writing is likely to need to be
reused for other purposes, spending the time and money to get and learn a
robust package like FrameMaker is definitely the better choice -- unless
your clients insist on getting files from you in Word or some other package.

And if you're just looking for a good excuse to move up to FrameMaker,
ignore my earlier comments and use the others' arguments to press your case.

Regards, Jean
Jean Hollis Weber
mailto:jean -at- wrevenge -dot- com -dot- au
The Technical Editors' Eyrie
Now available: Electronic Editing, A quick start guide for
editing students, experienced editors making the
switch from paper to online, and anyone who needs
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