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Mar 8, 2008 6:46 PM

  Latest reply: Mike Wickham, Jul 29, 2011 8:27 AM
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 18, 2009 4:59 AM   in reply to Paolo Tramannoni

    Paolo Tramannoni wrote:

     

    Peter, thank you for your answer. I lived in InDesign CS4 for the full 30 days of the demo, and found it not really suitable for my needs. While I liked features like layers and the many import/export filters, it was slow even when just typing, the user interface seems to privilege graphic elements more than text elements, and gave me a general improssion of limited "free flowing". The documents and generated PDF files are huge. I should probably write down a comparison sheet to show my findings during those days.

     

    But I admit that working with (the very good) FrameMaker under (the very bad) Windows is such a hassle, that I might reconsinder my situation and balance between bad and bad.

     

    Contraty to you, and seconding Tim's thinking, I don't think porting would cost so much. Working in the software development industry, I see software as sophisticated as FrameMaker ported by a single developer in three or four months. They already even have a lot of code from CS4 that can be reused for the user interface. My guess is that this move is more politic that other: they are moving all advanced users to a single app, slowly demising this strange thing that is FrameMaker.

     

    I await for your book. It might convince me.

     

    Paolo

    Hi, Paolo:

     

    Long ago, there was a public beta of FrameMaker for linux that wasn't developed into a released product. I can't remember if it was while Frame Technology, the originator of FrameMaker, owned FrameMaker, or if it was after Adobe purchased FrameMaker. FrameMaker originated on unix, so the thinking was that it shouldn't be too difficult or expensive to develop a linux version. I don't know exactly why the linux version was discontinued - it may have been with linux users at that time comprising too small a market to be economically worthwhile, and no certainty how soon or how fast the market would grow, vs. the cost of developing and supporting the ported version. It may have been due to lack of interest or acceptance by the linux users.

     

    FrameMaker began as a unix-based product, initially running on SunOS; eventually it was ported to many different versions for specific unix computer systems. In those days, the unix computer manufacturer paid for the port.

     

    In the mid-90's, Adobe introduced unix versions of Illustrator and Photoshop. It's not clear why they were discontinued - shrinking unix market, difficulty of development, etc.

     

    When Mac OS X was introduced, there was much expectation in the user community that it would be easy to port FrameMaker to OS X, but it wasn't. As FrameMaker's code base evolved, it became difficult to develop new versions on the already-supported operating systems. There's no underlying similarity between FrameMaker code and the code of CS products.

     

    It's easy to think that all Adobe products may be converging on a product line that is composed mostly of individualized plug-ins that run on a common small core "engine." However, the great effort of harmonizing the CS products indicates that it's not simple to accomplish.

     

    FrameMaker is a member of Adobe's Technical Communications Suite (TCS) which is a tool set specifically focused on technical writers, not print designers, nor Web designers. TCS family products Photoshop and Acrobat, are available for OS X, and a Captivate beta release is coming (search Google for captivate mac os x.) RoboHelp, AFAIK, is not planned for OS X. Probably FrameMaker will not move to OS X until and unless the complete TCS is developed for OS X (my guess.)


    HTH

    Regards,

    Peter
    _______________________
    Peter Gold
    KnowHow ProServices

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 18, 2009 6:14 AM   in reply to peter at knowhowpro

    Hi Peter,

     

    The difference between technical publication, print publication, and web publication, as well as XML/HTML help systems, is very subtle nowadays. For example, I create manuals that will be partly printed, and as a whole released as PDF files online (and supplied in CDs with the product). Also, my FrameMaker manuals are exported to XML/HTML, and edited to become embedded help systems and online tutorials. So, at least in my case (and that of my colleagues) there aren't two separate worlds when target media are concerned.

     

    The difference, in our case, is between a graphic-intensive publication type (as in advertising) and text-intensive one (as in manuals). As of now, it seems to me that InDesign is still specialized in the first type of publications, while FrameMaker has still a good advantage (not based on features but on workflow) when coming to the second type.

     

    As for waiting for the full TCS to be completed, I would say I cannot see myself using Captivate or RoboHelp in any case. I already use other tools, under Mac, to make interactive tutorials/help systems. I like them. They cost little, and are perfectly integrated in the Apple guidelines. My perfect technical communication suite is made up of FrameMaker, Illustrator (FreeHand...), Photoshop, Acorn, Little Snapper, Picturesque, TextWrangler, Coda, KeyNote, Final Cut. So, the missing link is still - and only - FrameMaker.

     

    Paolo

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 22, 2009 7:59 AM   in reply to Paolo Tramannoni

    Paolo Tramannoni wrote:

     

    Hi Peter,

     

    The difference between technical publication, print publication, and web publication, as well as XML/HTML help systems, is very subtle nowadays. For example, I create manuals that will be partly printed, and as a whole released as PDF files online (and supplied in CDs with the product). Also, my FrameMaker manuals are exported to XML/HTML, and edited to become embedded help systems and online tutorials. So, at least in my case (and that of my colleagues) there aren't two separate worlds when target media are concerned.

     

    The difference, in our case, is between a graphic-intensive publication type (as in advertising) and text-intensive one (as in manuals). As of now, it seems to me that InDesign is still specialized in the first type of publications, while FrameMaker has still a good advantage (not based on features but on workflow) when coming to the second type.

     

    As for waiting for the full TCS to be completed, I would say I cannot see myself using Captivate or RoboHelp in any case. I already use other tools, under Mac, to make interactive tutorials/help systems. I like them. They cost little, and are perfectly integrated in the Apple guidelines. My perfect technical communication suite is made up of FrameMaker, Illustrator (FreeHand...), Photoshop, Acorn, Little Snapper, Picturesque, TextWrangler, Coda, KeyNote, Final Cut. So, the missing link is still - and only - FrameMaker.

     

    Paolo

    Hi, Paolo:

     

    In my mention of ID CS4 improvements, I forgot to mention the Smart Text Flow feature that adds pages when you over-fill the current page. It's a tad fussy to set up, but it has greater flexibility that FM's Autoflow; it can add pages to the end of the document, like FrameMaker, or to the end of the current story (like FM's connected text frames), or to the end of the current section (a defined segment of the current document, something like sections in MS Word).

     

    Regarding typing speed:

     

    The more RAM on your system, the better the speed, as you'd expect. The sluggishness you experience comes from InDesign's significant different in managing hyphenation, justification, word- and letter-spacing; InDesign by default uses a paragraph composer, vs. most other products use of a line-by-line composer. Composing a complete paragraph takes more effort, but the text adjustments are distributed throughout the whole paragraph, rather than adjusting each line in a paragraph independently of each other. You can even fine-tune the adjustment settings, or, if you prefer, you can substitute the line-by-line composer overall, in specified paragraphs, or include your choice as a paragraph style attribute.

     

    Also, for fast typing, there's a plain text story editor that you can open in its own window (InDesign has multiple windows, unlike FrameMaker.)

     

    For multi-media, you can set up lots of for export to Flash documents while still in InDesign; you can export as SWF for Web, or as FLV, for further work in Flash.

     

    You can import and export XML, though, for help systems, you'd need to develop your own ways to convert and create the final help deliverable. Probably, over time, as more folks migrate, someone will develop and market tools for this need.

     

    Also, InDesign CS4's export for DreamWeaver can be used for other Web-creation tools.


    HTH

    Regards,

    Peter
    _______________________
    Peter Gold
    KnowHow ProServices

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 22, 2009 9:06 AM   in reply to peter at knowhowpro

    Hi Peter,

     

    Your remarks about paragraph formatting should suggest the reason why InDesign and FrameMaker will never be interchangeable products: excessive care to typographic details are not needed in FrameMaker, while they are essential in InDesign (being it part of a composite graphic tool called the "Creative Suite").

     

    Since FrameMaker's output is already of commendably good quality, it should continue to be focused on ease of text treatment, together with technical illustrations. Working on text in a separate window defeats the meaning itself of using FrameMaker, a technical writing tool that's different from, say, LaTeX, for how easy it makes working at the same time on structured text and diagrams.

     

    On a personal note, I would say that exporting to Flash is not the main core of my job. What I write is not graphic, nor animation intensive. This might be different for other technical writers, but as of now I don't see many animated technical manuals around. Isn't making a video much easier? (Just asking). My manuals are very often the starting base for the script of industrial videos and tutorials.

     

    As for Help systems, I work both on embedded systems and standard computer's online help. Both in the first and the second case, a very simple HTML syntax is required; so, converting is just a matter of "cleaning out" the output from FrameMaker, more than looking for a sophisticated conversion tool. I don't use DreamWeaver for my manuals/help systems, since these are not full-featured web sites, but just online manuals: easy and light to read, with a minimal amount of (meaningful) graphics.

     

    Paolo

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 22, 2009 10:37 AM   in reply to Paolo Tramannoni

    Paolo Tramannoni wrote:

     

    Hi Peter,

     

    Your remarks about paragraph formatting should suggest the reason why InDesign and FrameMaker will never be interchangeable products: excessive care to typographic details are not needed in FrameMaker, while they are essential in InDesign (being it part of a composite graphic tool called the "Creative Suite").

     

    Agreed, however, it's much less necessary to spend time with typographic manipulation in InDesign, because its paragraph and character styles incorporate all the intelligence in the paragraph-level composer for fine control, and in the single-line composer for control more on the level of FrameMaker.

     

    In addition, InDesign's nested character style feature - intelligent algorithmic application of defined character styles within paragraphs, plus its GREP paragraph formatting feature - formatting by matching patterns, plus its paragraph line formatting feature - specifying the character style that is applied to a given line in a paragraph, which adjusts as lines flow forward or backward, plus the ability to repeat one or more of these styling features within a paragraph style - all relieve the author of manual formatting work, once the styles are defined. There's even a feature that applies the next paragraph style defined in a paragraph that does this across selections of paragraphs; after creating and styling text, if you redefine say, the H1 style, to be followed by an Intro paragraph style, instead of a Body1 style, in FrameMaker, this takes effect only when starting new paragraphs with Return/Enter. For existing paragraphs, you'd have to find each existing H1, move down and apply Intro manually, or write a script or macro. In InDesign, you'd select ranges of text that contain H1s and apply the feature that applies the defined next paragraph style to all paragraphs in the range; this means you can redefine more than one paragraph style and apply this feature to a selected range, and all the redefinitions are applies. The usual requirement of authors applying appropriate styles rigorously remains.

    Since FrameMaker's output is already of commendably good quality, it should continue to be focused on ease of text treatment, together with technical illustrations. Working on text in a separate window defeats the meaning itself of using FrameMaker, a technical writing tool that's different from, say, LaTeX, for how easy it makes working at the same time on structured text and diagrams.

     

    Apologies if I wasn't clear. The Story Editor is less and less necessary for fast typing, with a combination of any or all of: sufficient RAM, disk speed, free disk capacity, single-line composition, and "vanilla" paragraph styles (few or no nested character-, line-, and/or GREP-style options. Also, InDesign provides multiple windows, so the author can view and/or edit/type new material, either in the the story editor window, the document-view window, or switch between them. This is somewhat similar to Structured FrameMaker's simultaneous use of structure and document windows, except that in FrameMaker, you need to create the foundations for structured operation, while in InDesign, there's no special preparation; just open the window (or multiple windows for editing, copying, or moving content in different parts of the same document.)

     

     

    On a personal note, I would say that exporting to Flash is not the main core of my job. What I write is not graphic, nor animation intensive. This might be different for other technical writers, but as of now I don't see many animated technical manuals around. Isn't making a video much easier? (Just asking). My manuals are very often the starting base for the script of industrial videos and tutorials.

     

    I only mentioned Flash because you mentioned going beyond print into interactive products.

     

     

    As for Help systems, I work both on embedded systems and standard computer's online help. Both in the first and the second case, a very simple HTML syntax is required; so, converting is just a matter of "cleaning out" the output from FrameMaker, more than looking for a sophisticated conversion tool. I don't use DreamWeaver for my manuals/help systems, since these are not full-featured web sites, but just online manuals: easy and light to read, with a minimal amount of (meaningful) graphics.

     

    Paolo

     

     

     

     

     

    I haven't used the XML or DreamWeaver output; you may find they are useful for your needs. It's worth a look.

     

    HTH


    Regards,

    Peter
    _______________________
    Peter Gold
    KnowHow ProServices

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 22, 2009 2:39 PM   in reply to peter at knowhowpro

    Dear Peter,

     

    it's much less necessary to spend time with typographic manipulation in InDesign

     

    I would like to ask you to elaborate on this, since I might ignore some of the more advanced features of InDesign.

     

    InDesign's nested character style feature

     

    While I think this is a great features for catalogues, where you don't need to apply a different paragraph style for the heading and the body text to be treated as a single unity (a little like the DD and DT tags in HTML), I also find that FrameMaker's Run-in paragraph styles are much more useful in technical manuals, where you might want to include them in the TOC. Also, in technical (or academic) documentes you might have headings running for more than a single sentence, and this would defeat InDesign's nested styles scope.

     

    There's even a feature that applies the next paragraph style defined in a paragraph ... this means you can redefine more than one paragraph style and apply this feature to a selected range

     

    Nice, but I guess of very limited use. If you must add an Intro paragraph, just add it in that style; if you must change its appearance, edit the style. Instead of editing two styles in a single item, you edit two items with a single style each.

     

    The Story Editor is less and less necessary for fast typing, with a combination of any or all of

     

    Ah, OK. I had a different impression while trying it on my MacBook Pro, but things might change with the next generation of Macs.

     

    InDesign provides multiple windows

     

    Nice - but in FrameMaker you just type directly in page with no odd scrolling, or speed problems (assuming this latter is true in your computer).

     

    I only mentioned Flash because you mentioned going beyond print into interactive products.

     

    This is an important difference, though. Adobe's marketing pushes strong on the Flash export - but not everybody needs it. Not that it is a bad thing - only, it might not be the most important thing.

     

    I haven't used the XML or DreamWeaver output; you may find they are useful for your needs. It's worth a look.

     

    XML output is very useful to me. But I can't understand why using DreamWeaver's output, if you shouldn't create a web site from your document (plus, I prefer to use Coda). Again, here is the different target: something made in a graphic department (with InDesign) will be printed as a brochure, and then go online preserving the same graphic elements and a similar layout; something coming from the technical writers (working in FrameMaker) will hardly become a brochure or a colorful web site.

     

    Paolo

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 22, 2009 5:59 PM   in reply to Paolo Tramannoni

    Hi, Paolo:

     

    NOTE: My replies are inserted in italic, because it's becoming awkward to break up the long quote area.

    Paolo Tramannoni wrote:

     

     

    Dear Peter,

     

    it's much less necessary to spend time with typographic manipulation in InDesign

     

    I would like to ask you to elaborate on this, since I might ignore some of the more advanced features of InDesign.

     

     

     

    InDesign recognizes all the typographic features of OpenType, and can define them in paragraph and character styles. Just as in FrameMaker, tagging text (or text frames, or objects, or table cells) with a defined style gives consistency, no matter how fussy the defined style is. For example, FrameMaker's paragraph and character style designers (or direct formatting menu choices) can't set baseline offset, though it's possible to customize this attribute in the definition in a MIF file. However, MIF can't remember the baseline offset if the format is changed with Update All. ID can tune hyphenation, widows, and orphans more finely. ID can specify regular, lining, or oldstyle numerals, and so on. Some of the features that aren't available in FM might be useful or even preferable, if they were available. The point here is that, while setting up styles to embody the available nuances may take more time and effort, it's as convenient to apply these styles as those that don't take advantage of these features.

     

    OTOH, template designers are free to stay away from anything not also available in FrameMaker formats.

    InDesign's nested character style feature

     

    While I think this is a great features for catalogues, where you don't need to apply a different paragraph style for the heading and the body text to be treated as a single unity (a little like the DD and DT tags in HTML), I also find that FrameMaker's Run-in paragraph styles are much more useful in technical manuals, where you might want to include them in the TOC. Also, in technical (or academic) documentes you might have headings running for more than a single sentence, and this would defeat InDesign's nested styles scope.

     

    You're correct! FM's run-in feature is perfect for generated-list extraction (like TOC,) and missing from ID, despite frequent requests on the public wish list, and by beta testers. Maybe some day. There are workarounds; however, yes, not as convenient. I'm not sure if I was confusing about nested styles - they can be programmed across sentences in paragraphs; I don't see a problem in doing what run-in headings do in this case, except for TOC extraction. I can imagine other instances where the ability to run a paragraph into a following paragraph on the same line could be useful.

     

    There's even a feature that applies the next paragraph style defined in a paragraph ... this means you can redefine more than one paragraph style and apply this feature to a selected range

     

    Nice, but I guess of very limited use. If you must add an Intro paragraph, just add it in that style; if you must change its appearance, edit the style. Instead of editing two styles in a single item, you edit two items with a single style each.

     

    Again,  perhaps I wasn't sufficiently clear. If you need to physically insert a paragraph, you insert it in ID as in FM. However, if there's a range of text in which you want to retag intro1 paragraphs that follow H1 paragraphs to intro2 paragraphs, one method would be to use Find intro1 and Replace with intro2, as in FrameMaker; if you want to change the behavior of H1 so that Enter/Return at the end of H1 will always create intro2, and also change existing intro1 paragraphs that follow H1 to intro2, first redefine H1's Next Paragraph Style to intro2, then select the range and perform Apply Next Style.

     

    The Story Editor is less and less necessary for fast typing, with a combination of any or all of

     

    Ah, OK. I had a different impression while trying it on my MacBook Pro, but things might change with the next generation of Macs.

     

    My February 2008 MacBook Pro 2.5MHz Core2 Duo can take up to 6GB RAM with Other World Computing's kit. I have only 4GB. Unibody's can take 8GB. You may only need a RAM boost, not a new machine.

     

    InDesign provides multiple windows

     

    Nice - but in FrameMaker you just type directly in page with no odd scrolling, or speed problems (assuming this latter is true in your computer).

     

    Nothing odd about the scrolling when new pages are created according to your settings in Preferences.

     

    I only mentioned Flash because you mentioned going beyond print into interactive products.

     

    This is an important difference, though. Adobe's marketing pushes strong on the Flash export - but not everybody needs it. Not that it is a bad thing - only, it might not be the most important thing.

     

    For those who will use Flash output, much can be done in ID before export.

    I haven't used the XML or DreamWeaver output; you may find they are useful for your needs. It's worth a look.

     

    XML output is very useful to me. But I can't understand why using DreamWeaver's output, if you shouldn't create a web site from your document (plus, I prefer to use Coda). Again, here is the different target: something made in a graphic department (with InDesign) will be printed as a brochure, and then go online preserving the same graphic elements and a similar layout; something coming from the technical writers (working in FrameMaker) will hardly become a brochure or a colorful web site.

     

    Paolo

     

    I only mentioned DreamWeaver output for it's HTML aspect. No need to go further. I can't comment on how its HTML compares to FM's HTML output.

    You haven't mentioned the kinds of layouts in your documents. If they are the technical publication model common in FrameMaker, one main text flow, perhaps disconnected sidebar text frames, but more likely either anchored-frame or single-cell tables for sidebars, graphics imported by reference and anchored in the main text flow, graphic captions in the text flow that maintain simple or compound (chapter# - graphic #) captions, Left, Right, and custom master pages, the two products are quite close now. I'd expect more overlap some day in future releases, especially if there's a lot of user request.

     

    Please let me know if I've left anything unclear.

     

    I think you'll find some irritation in the following differences, in addition to the lack of run-in paragraphs:

     

    * ID lacks FM's true side head paragraph formats, and true straddle paragraph formats with attributes to cross two or more columns, and reflow text above and below the straddle.

     

    * ID, like most word-processing and publication tools, uses additive space between paragraphs, vs. FM's "larger space wins." While both are serviceable, FrameMaker users often like the simpler computation required when planning paragraph formats.

     

    *  ID lacks table footnotes; cross-references are a workaround.

     

    * ID lacks the tablesheet text variable; no easy workaround

     

    * ID lacks the table continuation text variable; a bit of table smarts works around this lack.

     

    Thanks for your questions and counter-points. It's good exercise!<G>


     


    HTH


     


    Regards,


     


    Peter


    _______________________


    Peter Gold


    KnowHow ProServices


     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 22, 2009 9:55 PM   in reply to peter at knowhowpro

    I'm beginning to lose sight of who said what to whom. :^)

     

    We have officially stopped working with FM 7.0 for new publications, and just edit already existing files as needed. So we have turned to MS Word for our publications, unfortunately we are using MD Word 2004 because of the loss of macros in Word 2008.

     

    We have very style-heavy templates, graphics are placed into tables for reasonable text flow, and pagination is handled at the very end when we convert 30-40 .doc files into pdfs. It takes more time than our previous process, especially for the production of the web files that mirror the print document. We used to be able to use structured FM files to create xml, which then had PERL scripts run on them to generate .html output, and although the process was pretty clunky, designed by someone who was learning as he went, it still worked.... if only in OS 9.

     

    But more work with less staff keeps our jobs secure, at least for now.

     

    Still would be nice to continue to use FrameMaker, though. ID, with its Story Editor, just doesn't seem to be what we need. And I've always thought that it was ridiculous for proto-ID, otherwise known as PageMaker, to recommend that a publication's content be done in MS Word, then imported into PM for final layout.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 23, 2009 2:06 AM   in reply to fogharty

    Peter,

     

    You are describing fantastic features, but in my view more interesting for graphic artists instead of technical writers. I'm happy with the control FM allows on typography, and the printed output from my older FM6 Mac documents looks definitely good.

     

    At the same time, some formatting features I (and most technical writers) rely very often, like headings over multiple columns, side-head headings and run-in paragraphs, are easy to do in FM, and a fatiguing workaround in ID. One day these features might appear in ID, but at the moment they are not there.

     

    Fogharty, I planned to remain in FM for how good it is in general; but the several troubles I'm into with working under Windows made me decide to further evaluate switching to OpenOffice in the near future. It is not as reliable as FM used to be, and very involuted (as Word is) in common tasks like cross-references, indexes, external picture linking, books. But I'm balancing between different problems, here, instead of different features, and Windows does indeed look like the worse problem.

     

    Paolo

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 23, 2009 2:29 AM   in reply to Paolo Tramannoni

    Paolo Tramannoni wrote:

     

    Peter,

     

    You are describing fantastic features, but in my view more interesting for graphic artists instead of technical writers. I'm happy with the control FM allows on typography, and the printed output from my older FM6 Mac documents looks definitely good.

     

    At the same time, some formatting features I (and most technical writers) rely very often, like headings over multiple columns, side-head headings and run-in paragraphs, are easy to do in FM, and a fatiguing workaround in ID. One day these features might appear in ID, but at the moment they are not there.

    I agree that these essential constructs in technical documents, that FrameMaker creates via paragraph attributes, rather than requiring manual effort, are boons to working efficiently. Authors who rely on them cannot justify moving to InDesign for the benefits its other features, if they come with the burden of having to employ inefficient workarounds.

     

    Fogharty, I planned to remain in FM for how good it is in general; but the several troubles I'm into with working under Windows made me decide to further evaluate switching to OpenOffice in the near future. It is not as reliable as FM used to be, and very involuted (as Word is) in common tasks like cross-references, indexes, external picture linking, books. But I'm balancing between different problems, here, instead of different features, and Windows does indeed look like the worse problem.

     

    Paolo

     

    Regards,

    Peter
    _______________________
    Peter Gold
    KnowHow ProServices

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 23, 2009 2:41 AM   in reply to peter at knowhowpro

    There is another thing I fear for us tech writers in the next future. While I see that Adobe is adding FM features to ID, I also know very well that when these products will converge in a single application (namely, ID), we technical writers will be muted by graphic artists, each time we will be discussing a new feature, with the classic formula: "How many people will use this feature? Oh, you are just a small minority, here, aren't you? So, shut up, you dirty technical writer. You are not the core business of ID". Already seen so many times, that I can start betting when this is going to happen!

     

    Paolo

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 23, 2009 7:54 AM   in reply to Paolo Tramannoni

    Paolo Tramannoni wrote:

     

    There is another thing I fear for us tech writers in the next future. While I see that Adobe is adding FM features to ID, I also know very well that when these products will converge in a single application (namely, ID), we technical writers will be muted by graphic artists, each time we will be discussing a new feature, with the classic formula: "How many people will use this feature? Oh, you are just a small minority, here, aren't you? So, shut up, you dirty technical writer. You are not the core business of ID". Already seen so many times, that I can start betting when this is going to happen!

     

    Paolo

     

     

    Hi, Paolo:

     

    I'll take a pass on commenting on the above.

     

    However, I wanted to mention one additional setting that can affect performance and speed - Object > Display Performance. Setting a lower than maximum screen appearance can improve the speed of screen actions, and a more-powerful video card with lots of video RAM also improve performance. You can't change the video card or video RAM in a MacBook Pro (or most other laptops), so choosing the most powerful hardware when purchasing is important.


    HTH

    Regards,

    Peter
    _______________________
    Peter Gold
    KnowHow ProServices

        

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 7, 2010 10:41 AM   in reply to Tim Murray

    Well, here is another reason why FrameMaker on Mac is a need, more than a preference.

     

    Today, we could finally compare the old version of a manual created with the Adobe Minion font on a Mac, against the new version, where fonts were replaced with Adobe Minion Pro on Windows XP. The new version looks rougher, grainier, less harmonic. In two words, less professionaly typeset.

     

    I don't know if someone did a similar test, but in my experience, working on the Windows version of FrameMaker will make us look as if we were working with a standard wordprocessor, and knew nothing about typography.

     

    Paolo

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 7, 2010 12:06 PM   in reply to Paolo Tramannoni

    Paolo Tramannoni wrote:

     

     

    Well, here is another reason why FrameMaker on Mac is a need, more than a preference.

     

    Today, we could finally compare the old version of a manual created with the Adobe Minion font on a Mac, against the new version, where fonts were replaced with Adobe Minion Pro on Windows XP. The new version looks rougher, grainier, less harmonic. In two words, less professionaly typeset.

     

    I don't know if someone did a similar test, but in my experience, working on the Windows version of FrameMaker will make us look as if we were working with a standard wordprocessor, and knew nothing about typography.

     

    Paolo

     

    Examine the maker.ini files of the Windows version (there are two maker.ini files - one is for the current user, one for the FrameMaker application.) Make a safety copy, then open the ini file in a plain text editor and search for "DisplayUsingPrinterMetrics" without quotes. Here's a link to information about settings for this property: http://lists.frameusers.com/pipermail/framers/2006-August/003991.html. Also, search Google for "printermetrics framemaker maker.ini" without quotes, for more links.

     

     

     

    HTH

     

    Regards,

     

    Peter

    _______________________

    Peter Gold

    KnowHow ProServices

     

     
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    Jan 7, 2010 2:12 PM   in reply to Tim Murray

    Tim, the difference is both on screen and paper. I had just hoped the difference was only evident onscreen, but it is not. Even if the difference is more evident onscreen (where even shapes in embedded illustratons are often wrong, but look good on paper).

     
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    Jan 7, 2010 2:14 PM   in reply to Tim Murray

    Tim, shouldn't OpenType fonts be even more accurate than Type 1? And yes, they are not exactly the same font (Minion agains Minion Pro), but I wonder why the older font looks better than the new one.

     
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    Jan 7, 2010 2:16 PM   in reply to peter at knowhowpro

    Peter, thank you for pointing me toward a possible solution. I'll experiment with it.

     
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    Oct 5, 2010 1:58 AM   in reply to Tim Murray

    Tim,

     

    I agree the most recent version of SheepShaver runs very well. The only problem is that I have messed-up keyboard layouts (by looking at the Keyboard diagram, it seems that physical keys are remapped to other keys, possibly due to the ANSI and ISO different layouts).

     

    I must report that, recently, I did a middle-sized project with InDesign CS5. Despite some oddities (for example, continuing to warn about broken cross-references, when they are perfectly fine; or not allowing for direct composition of pictures plus captions and connecting lines in a frame) it adds most of the things we have always asked for in FrameMaker. Object styles, faithful preview, print styles, a smart way of managing conditions, cross-references and variables, multimedia integration, smart export to Html or the new e-book formats - just to name a few. And, it works like a charm on the Mac (with perfect integration with the other apps of the suite).

     

    Conversion of files via the RTF format is possible, despite having to reconnect all linked pictures. I don't know if ID can already suit all projects, but for sure it does with mines. CS5 is good enough for technical manuals. So much, that returning to the PC side for using FrameMaker looks like a travel in the past. Really a shame: just look at the different sizes of files (ID generates huge files), and you understand how good FM could have been, if not abandoned.

     

    Paolo

     
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    Oct 5, 2010 10:50 AM   in reply to Paolo Tramannoni

    Paolo Tramannoni wrote:

     

    Tim,

     

    I agree the most recent version of SheepShaver runs very well. The only problem is that I have messed-up keyboard layouts (by looking at the Keyboard diagram, it seems that physical keys are remapped to other keys, possibly due to the ANSI and ISO different layouts).

     

    I must report that, recently, I did a middle-sized project with InDesign CS5. Despite some oddities (for example, continuing to warn about broken cross-references, when they are perfectly fine; or not allowing for direct composition of pictures plus captions and connecting lines in a frame) it adds most of the things we have always asked for in FrameMaker. Object styles, faithful preview, print styles, a smart way of managing conditions, cross-references and variables, multimedia integration, smart export to Html or the new e-book formats - just to name a few. And, it works like a charm on the Mac (with perfect integration with the other apps of the suite).

     

    Conversion of files via the RTF format is possible, despite having to reconnect all linked pictures. I don't know if ID can already suit all projects, but for sure it does with mines. CS5 is good enough for technical manuals. So much, that returning to the PC side for using FrameMaker looks like a travel in the past. Really a shame: just look at the different sizes of files (ID generates huge files), and you understand how good FM could have been, if not abandoned.

     

    Paolo

    In addition to the RTF methods already mentioned, here's a little more info:

     

    * You can copy from InDesign and paste into FrameMaker. This seems to be an RTF via clipboard operation, although my default clipboard format preference is: ClipboardFormatsPriorities=FILE, EMF, DIB, BMP, MIFW, MIF, RTF, OLE 2, META, UNICODE TEXT, TEXT

     

    * FrameMaker's RTF import offers two options - MS RTF, and Japanese RTF.

     

    The examples below show the differences:

     

    InDesign original:

    compare id orig2.png

     

    FrameMaker results of copy/paste, MS Word RTF import, Japanese RTF import:

    FM rev 2.png

     

    It's interesting to see that InDesign drop caps are automatically converted to anchored frames by FrameMaker, and how different the Japanese conversion is. For both the MS Word import and the Japanese RTF import, Retain Original Formatting and Using Current Document's Catalog produce the same import results.

     

    Regarding the appropriateness of InDesign and FrameMaker for tech publishing (or anything else):

     

    * While FrameMaker's typographic abilities are less profound than InDesign's, at this time, and FrameMaker's layout abilities are weaker than InDesign's, and FrameMaker layouts also require more manual effort than InDesign to accomplish the same fancy stuff, one basic question is "How much does the the presence of creative visual increase the value or delivery of the technical information to its intended audience?

     

    * While InDesign's layout and design features trump FrameMaker's, InDesign's currently quite weak in creating help systems, especially context-sensitive help that links to user interface objects in applications. Currently, InDesign is also weak in content reuse via content-management systems.

     

    * InDesign can do XML-based database publishing pretty well without third-party tools, and without too much setup effort. FrameMaker's built-in database publishing ability requires lots of setup with variables and significant preparation of the source data.

     

    * Both applications can incorporate multi-media content, and their development in this area is ongoing.

     

    Many of us would love to have FrameMaker on Mac (my examples above are created under Windows XP SP3 running on Parallels Desktop 5, on a MBPro 6MB RAM, running Snow Leopard. It takes a while to get used to the virtual machine application (I previously had used VMware Fusion2.) There are times when the internal memory shuffling and checkpoint-snapshots stalls the action, but, hey, there's always a new release of virtualizers to improve on that<G>.

     

     

    HTH

     

    Regards,

     

    Peter

    _______________________

    Peter Gold

    KnowHow ProServices

     
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    Oct 7, 2010 12:32 PM   in reply to peter at knowhowpro

    Hi Peter,

     

    In addition to the RTF methods already mentioned

     

    Unfortunately, going the other way round (from FM to ID) copy & paste does not seem to work so well. Paragraph styles or any other kind of formatting are flattened out. This, at least, going from Windows XP to the Mac.

     

    one basic question is "How much does the the presence of creative visual increase the value or delivery of the technical information to its intended audience?

     

    Just speaking for myself: all the typography in FM is enough for the kind of works I do. However, what I like in ID is how easy (so, how quicker and effortless) it is dealing with the layout. Sometimes, the better layout abilities of ID make the job extremely easier: for example, when you have to deal with linked EPS files, whose preview may be very clear in ID, unreadable in FM. For the work I'm currently doing, I have to keep the EPS files open on a separate program, since the preview in FM is totaly useless. In ID, I could simply turn on the high quality preview for the single picture, or for a whole chapter. No need to jump from an app to another while writing.

     

    Another example is when you must insert a large picture across a spread. I've never found a way to do this effortlessly in FM (I either break the picture in two different frames in the facing pages, or, if I can, I create a new document whose page size is double the basic layout). ID is based on spreads, so no problem there.

     

    In other words: I'm perfectly happy with the layout finesse, and the print quality of the Mac version of FM, but not of the way the page layout can be edited.

     

    InDesign's currently quite weak in creating help systems, especially context-sensitive help that links to user interface objects in applications

     

    For the way I deal with help systems, ID is quite good. Both for PC help systems, and for embedded-systems help, I export Html files from single sections. ID CS5 generates some very clean code - something that, unfortunately, is not yet true with FM9 (can you easily read the flat, no-indentation text file it generates?)

     

    FM9 has the advantage of automatically breaking a whole document into sections, based on paragraph styles. I've not used this feature long enough to give my opinion on it, but it seems to work very well. In the meantime, for shorter works, I like how exporting the selected passage as a Html file in ID allows for fine control on what you export.

     

    I'm slowly moving toward PDF help systems in PC applications - something giving solution to the problem of cross-platform compatibility. The PDF generated by ID is much better than the one generated by FM, for quality and lack of problems with colors and lines. ID is also ready for EPUB and Flash export, a world I'm carefully exploring (but the systems I deal with are not yet ready to use).

     

    Currently, InDesign is also weak in content reuse via content-management systems.

     

    Can you elaborate on that? I would like to see what other problem I'm going to face.

     

    Many of us would love to have FrameMaker on Mac ... but, hey, there's always a new release of virtualizers to improve on that<G>.

     

    Nowadays virtualizers are not bad, indeed. The standard interface of Adobe apps also makes the different interface nearly transparent (I have FrameMaker at full screen in Windows, and Illustrator on the background on the Mac side: they could be running in the same environment). I also use a couple helper apps (KeyRemap4MaBook on the Mac, maConfort on the PC) to make keyboard shortuctus a lot easier, and a different skin in Windows.

     

    The problem is how mad it is typing some commonly used characters in FM Win: something like the elypsis, the N- and M-dashes, the list's dot; even square brackets are moved to other places. And the Unicode chooser, is it a way to make you feel a bit less guilty of working on a warm office instead that in a cold mine? I usully type these character in the Mac side, then paste it in the PC side. Much easier.

     

    Paolo

     
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    Oct 7, 2010 2:25 PM   in reply to Paolo Tramannoni

    Hi, Paolo:

     

    Thanks for the reply. My interline comments are marked with PG>

     

    Paolo Tramannoni wrote:

     

     

    Hi Peter,

     

    In addition to the RTF methods already mentioned

     

    Unfortunately, going the other way round (from FM to ID) copy & paste does not seem to work so well. Paragraph styles or any other kind of formatting are flattened out. This, at least, going from Windows XP to the Mac.

     

    PG> Yes, I found some differences between copy from FrameMaker and paste to InDesign, vs import FrameMaker RTF. Anchored frames are lost.

     

    one basic question is "How much does the the presence of creative visual increase the value or delivery of the technical information to its intended audience?

     

    Just speaking for myself: all the typography in FM is enough for the kind of works I do. However, what I like in ID is how easy (so, how quicker and effortless) it is dealing with the layout. Sometimes, the better layout abilities of ID make the job extremely easier: for example, when you have to deal with linked EPS files, whose preview may be very clear in ID, unreadable in FM.

     

    PG> This affects your work with layout, but isn't quite a layout issue. I'm not sure if saving the EPS files with a different preview type would display better in FrameMaker; some folks on the InDesign forum suggest dropping EPS for several reasons. I'm not sure if Adobe Bridge comes with the Technical Communications Suite 2; if it does, or if you have it from a Creative Suite, it may help your FrameMaker graphics management.

     

    For the work I'm currently doing, I have to keep the EPS files open on a separate program, since the preview in FM is totaly useless. In ID, I could simply turn on the high quality preview for the single picture, or for a whole chapter. No need to jump from an app to another while writing.

     

    Another example is when you must insert a large picture across a spread. I've never found a way to do this effortlessly in FM (I either break the picture in two different frames in the facing pages, or, if I can, I create a new document whose page size is double the basic layout). ID is based on spreads, so no problem there.

     

    PG> Yes, a FrameMaker limitation.

     

    In other words: I'm perfectly happy with the layout finesse, and the print quality of the Mac version of FM, but not of the way the page layout can be edited.

     

    InDesign's currently quite weak in creating help systems, especially context-sensitive help that links to user interface objects in applications

     

    For the way I deal with help systems, ID is quite good. Both for PC help systems, and for embedded-systems help, I export Html files from single sections. ID CS5 generates some very clean code - something that, unfortunately, is not yet true with FM9 (can you easily read the flat, no-indentation text file it generates?)

     

    PG> I'm not sure what you're referring to. You can map FrameMaker paragraph formats to HTML styles in File > Utilities > HTML Setup, or by using the HTML Mapping Tables in Reference Pages. You can also customize the CSS. I haven't looked at InDesign's Export for Dreamweaver much. 

     

    FM9 has the advantage of automatically breaking a whole document into sections, based on paragraph styles. I've not used this feature long enough to give my opinion on it, but it seems to work very well. In the meantime, for shorter works, I like how exporting the selected passage as a Html file in ID allows for fine control on what you export.

     

    PG> Are you exporting HTML with the Dreamweaver export, or did I miss it?

     

    I'm slowly moving toward PDF help systems in PC applications - something giving solution to the problem of cross-platform compatibility. The PDF generated by ID is much better than the one generated by FM, for quality and lack of problems with colors and lines. ID is also ready for EPUB and Flash export, a world I'm carefully exploring (but the systems I deal with are not yet ready to use).

     

    Currently, InDesign is also weak in content reuse via content-management systems.

     

    Can you elaborate on that? I would like to see what other problem I'm going to face.

     

    PG> Search Google for "FrameMaker content management," "FrameMaker content reuse," "FrameMaker CMS," and similar terms without quotes to see lots of discussions. Basically these control which user can check out a chunk of content and change it, while blocking others from using it until it's checked back into the system. Some of these tools also search through document repositories for similar chunks and report that, so you can decide if one chunk can be used in more than one place; IOW, avoid duplication and near duplication for uniformity as well as less-costly translation.

    Many of us would love to have FrameMaker on Mac ... but, hey, there's always a new release of virtualizers to improve on that<G>.

     

     

    Nowadays virtualizers are not bad, indeed. The standard interface of Adobe apps also makes the different interface nearly transparent (I have FrameMaker at full screen in Windows, and Illustrator on the background on the Mac side: they could be running in the same environment). I also use a couple helper apps (KeyRemap4MaBook on the Mac, maConfort on the PC) to make keyboard shortuctus a lot easier, and a different skin in Windows.

     

    The problem is how mad it is typing some commonly used characters in FM Win: something like the elypsis, the N- and M-dashes, the list's dot; even square brackets are moved to other places. And the Unicode chooser, is it a way to make you feel a bit less guilty of working on a warm office instead that in a cold mine? I usully type these character in the Mac side, then paste it in the PC side. Much easier.

     

    PG> I don't use these much. Consider a "companion file" to keep open in your workspace, and copy/paste from it all in PC. Also, look up the keystrokes here: http://help.adobe.com/en_US/FrameMaker/9.0/CharacterSets/character_set s.pdf, if you haven't already. Granted, they are awkward until you get used to them.

     

    Paolo

     

    Regards,

     

    Peter

    _______________________

    Peter Gold

    KnowHow ProServices

     
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    Jul 12, 2011 1:59 AM   in reply to Tim Murray

    I'm in the middle of a switch to InDesign CS5 Mac from FrameMaker 9.0 PC. Leaving this latter will be a bless, since it has very little to do with the speed and comfort of FrameMaker 6.0 Mac. Just to name a few major limitations, I would cite the lack of most shortcuts, the atrocious character palette, the continual crashing (for which a few forum member suggested me to just avoid using some features...).

     

    If FrameMaker has to be ported to the Mac, I would hope it will not be a porting from FrameMaker PC. At the same time, due to the huge improvements in the long-document management of InDesign, I would be as happy to see this latter grow in a direction that us, old FrameMaker users, can fully appreciate. InDesign CS5 Mac has some major bugs, like crashing when copying text including cross references, slowing down for no apparent reasons, or reporting not-updated cross-references when they are all fine. And it has some major limitations, like forcing one to create grouped illustrations and captions on the pasteboard, and only after that allow for cutting and pasting into the document.

     

    At the same time, InDesign is a modern Mac program, with all the expected comfort and a good deal of modern features (like multimedia and eBook support). With improvements (mostly in the field of reliability) it can become a viable FrameMaker replacement. Developers have just to understand that not all publishing is mostly made of illustrations and a few added text; some of it is made of text and illustrations.

     

    Paolo

     
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    Jul 16, 2011 2:38 PM   in reply to Tim Murray

    Hi Tim,

     

    I'm sure not seeing Windows as the "worse problem".

     

    On the contrary, I see it as a major problem. For example, I use several characters that are not on the physical keyboard, and the Special Character palette (is this the right name?), that seems to come out of the DOS age and is not even able to automatically scroll, is a nightmare. The inability of managing CMYK colors correctly (as discussed in another thread) has been another major problem for me. And the need to continuosly go back to the mouse has made my work very unfomfortable.

     

    nothing so bad that would warrant a Word lookalike such as OpenOffice

     

    In the end, I aborted that project, and restarted it with InDesign. OOo has an incredibly high amount of bugs and limitations, that - worse that the issues themselves - the developers do not recognize as problems. The work with InDesign went well, despite some residual hassles.

     

    I use FM9 and FM10 in Parallels on a MacBook Pro, and it's pretty stable

     

    While the operating system itself proved rather stable on my Mac (Windows is running on an ideal environment when running on a virtual machine), FrameMaker 9 crashes very often. The only hint I could get from the forums - do not use the lower-side palettes, or how they are called - was not very practical in my view.

     

    Paolo

     

     
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    Jul 16, 2011 2:45 PM   in reply to Tim Murray

    Hi Tim,

     

    You could probably find an FM7 on eBay, or elsewhere

     

    FM7 is not less tied to an obsolete operating system than version 6, so I guess it would not be a very useful upgrade. And, as you say, the file format is no longer easy to exchange.

     

    I'm not so sure InDesign can pull it off -- be made into a long document publisher with the features of Frame, that is.

     

     

    For sure, it has greatly improved with version CS5. I could create a 250-page document with it, and it worked fine. I'm now on a much longer project, and I will be able to report my experience in a few months. I don't think it will become a FrameMaker equivalent, but it is probably next to being usable for similar tasks.

     

    I have found InDesign to be very stable

     

    On my machine, it crashes each time I copy some text containing cross-references, and in a few other cases. Reported bugs were never fixed.

     

    Paolo

     

     
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    Jul 29, 2011 2:11 AM   in reply to Tim Murray

    Well -

     

    Just noticed FM 10 has been available... was hoping Adobe finally woke up from their clue-coma  and come out with a Mac version, cuz I hauled my last PC out of the house last month.  I write a lot of tech manuals and I have to say, after 15 years on Solaris, I'm HATING MS Word: I doesn't scale at all and it crashed on me today - 4 times.

     

    I want Framemaker and I don't want to have to use a P.O.S. operating system to get my work done.

     

    WTF is wrong with Adobe? Why don't they just turn the Solaris src over to the creative commons and let one of us desperate hackers beat that product back into submission?  Criminy, I'll even take version 7, just get me off Word =[

     
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    Jul 29, 2011 8:27 AM   in reply to Tim Murray

    If Adobe had a heart they would release the Mac and Linux versions to

    the Commons.

     

    If you ask me, that's a ridiculous request. Free versions of FrameMaker

    could potentially steal sales from the for-sale version. It's akin to

    asking Apple to give away PC and Linux versions of Aperture.

     
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