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Framemaker Lifespan?

Mar 20, 2013 3:11 PM

I'm looking for others better acquainted with InDesign and Framemaker to weigh in on the probability of InDesign supplanting Framemaker in the not-too-distant future.

 

My company is mulling a switch to structured authoring and XML-based content management to more easily control source documents for different print applications (mobile, web, print). We've long used unstructured Framemaker as a traditional DTP program due to several advantages it has over InDesign for the kinds of documents we publish.

 

In the process of researching structured authoring and trying to determine whether Framemaker was adequate to our needs, several people have mentioned they suspect Framemaker will eventually be folded into InDesign, and the single program will be marketed to both the quick-to-print folks and the technical documentation audience. As I understand, one of the key strengths of Framemaker is the native XML support and structured authoring tools, so I find it hard to believe that these features could or would be easily added to InDesign.

 

Thanks,

M

 
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 20, 2013 4:11 PM   in reply to jmw_ashrae

    I've been using each product since v1, certified expert/instructor for both, just finished an FM11 reference book, love (and "love to hate") both products.

     

    I don't see FM folded into ID in the near future. There's too much that ID needs to address in terms of long document support and the ability to author structured content.

     

    But if I could only get ID's typography inside of FM!!!!!!

     

     

    -Matt

     

    Matt R. Sullivan
    co-author Publishing Fundamentals: Unstructured FrameMaker 11
    P: 714.960.6840 | C: 714.585.2335 | matt@mattrsullivan.com

    @mattrsullivan LinkedIn facebook mattrsullivan.com


     
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    Mar 20, 2013 5:04 PM   in reply to jmw_ashrae

    All who've been told if and when FrameMaker and InDesign will combine, have then been brainwashed and placed into author-protection programs with new identities.

     

    Seriously, FM's improving in epublishing. FM's offered structured authoring since version 4, while it's just beginning in ID. As Matt says, ID's typographic controls are hands-down better than FM's, but it doesn't sound like typographic superiority is a top item on your list of considerations.

     

    IMO, the real question is "what do you expect to accomplish by migrating from unstructured FM to structured FM? The benefits of structured authoring tools are mixed with the pain of learning to use them, learning to write structured content, learning to convert existing FM unstructured documents to structured FM.

     

    Search Google for terms like "compare FrameMaker to InDesign," "structured FrameMaker vs unstructured FrameMaker," "migrating from unstructured FrameMaker to structured FM," "value of structured FrameMaker authoring," "structured authoring tutorial," without quotes for lots of links. Also, consider posting your questions to the unstructured and structured FrameMaker forums, as well as here on the InDesign forum.

     

    If you've found that your writing team folks resist using FrameMaker paragraph and character formats consistently, and they treat documentation style guides as mild suggestions, getting them to embrace structured authoring will not come easily.

     

     

    HTH

     

     

    Regards,

     

     

    Peter

    _______________________

    Peter Gold

    KnowHow ProServices

     

    jmw_ashrae wrote:

     

    I'm looking for others better acquainted with InDesign and Framemaker to weigh in on the probability of InDesign supplanting Framemaker in the not-too-distant future.

     

    My company is mulling a switch to structured authoring and XML-based content management to more easily control source documents for different print applications (mobile, web, print). We've long used unstructured Framemaker as a traditional DTP program due to several advantages it has over InDesign for the kinds of documents we publish.

     

    In the process of researching structured authoring and trying to determine whether Framemaker was adequate to our needs, several people have mentioned they suspect Framemaker will eventually be folded into InDesign, and the single program will be marketed to both the quick-to-print folks and the technical documentation audience. As I understand, one of the key strengths of Framemaker is the native XML support and structured authoring tools, so I find it hard to believe that these features could or would be easily added to InDesign.

     

    Thanks,

    M

     
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    Mar 20, 2013 6:45 PM   in reply to jmw_ashrae

    That's kind of like saying Toyota is going to roll the Tundra into the Camry. They're designed for different work and workflows. ID may beat FM hands down in the making things pretty department, but try to use it solely as an authoring/content creation environment and you'll quickly see the sleek sporty model may not be up to the task.

     

    Adobe's has spent a lot of effort in the last few releases of FM to improve the Structured, XML & DITA environments in the product. If you're considering going to structured publishing, check out the various groups on XML &  DITA to see which publishing/output engines are being used. You'll be very hard pressed to find places where ID figures into the workflows.

     
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    Mar 21, 2013 8:12 AM   in reply to jmw_ashrae

    If FrameMaker and InDesign were ever to merge, I would expect it to be

    in the very distant future-- not in the not-too-distant future. While I

    have seen the two products becoming more alike over the years in certain

    ways, I have also seen them diverge more and more in other ways at the

    same time.

     
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    Mar 21, 2013 11:02 AM   in reply to mattrsullivan

    Thank you and thank jmw_ashrae for raising this topic. I was wondering the same thing!

    Our organization uses both products and I use both products. However our marketing communication department is very interested to have me switch from FM to ID for large documents because of the typography, in particular. So I echo the desire to get the ID typography into FM!!!

     
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    Mar 25, 2013 10:39 AM   in reply to jmw_ashrae

    FrameMaker is not going to be rolled up (or out) and replaced by InDesign. This is a rumor started by folks who are clueless about the technical communication software market. The best --and most commonly used -- sturctured XML authoring tool for large document sets in the technical communication industry is Adobe FrameMaker. Do yourself a favor and get the new version and appropriate training. You'll be good to go for years ahead if you do it right.

     

    Scriptorium Publishing just released a new book on publishing fundamentals and Adobe FrameMaker. This is a good place to start. http://www.scriptorium.com/books/unstructured-framemaker-11/

     

    Scott Abel

    The Content Wrangler

     
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    Mar 25, 2013 11:33 AM   in reply to jmw_ashrae

    FrameMaker versus InDesign is a red herring. The more important question is "layout tool or completely automated formatting"?

     

    Sarah O'Keefe

    Scriptorium Publishing

     
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    Mar 25, 2013 12:12 PM   in reply to ScriptoriumPub

    Well...I don't consider the topic to be a red herring.

     

    Regardless of an organization's need for layout AND automated publishing, they'll need a front-end editor. The viability of FrameMaker is a valid topic in itself.

     

    I think FM's viability as an unstructured and structured tool is fairly certain in the short-to-medium range, and if they get their UI in order, could continue indefinitely. The arcane nature of UI organization (see http://framemaker.mattrsullivan.com/2013/03/25/view-markers-xrefs/) kills productivity, and is responsible for FM's notorious reputation for a steep learning curve.

     

    The teams for Photoshop and ID long ago realized that sophisticated tools need constant attention to UI details, and I hope the FM team can benefit from their experience.

     

    **now I can mark Tilting at Windmills off of my To-Do list for the day.

     

    -Matt

     
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    Mar 25, 2013 12:37 PM   in reply to mattrsullivan

    LOL spit-take!!

     
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    Mar 25, 2013 1:03 PM   in reply to mattrsullivan

         **now I can mark Tilting at Windmills off of my To-Do list for the day.

     

    If you've only just marked the item off the list for he day, don't forget when you get a round tuit that you can use dedicated tools to fully correct the tilt in Illustrator, Photoshop, or Lightroom, but not ID.

     

     

    Regards,

     

     

    Peter

    _______________________

    Peter Gold

    KnowHow ProServices

     
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    Mar 25, 2013 1:09 PM   in reply to peter at knowhowpro

    Alas, my Round Tuit is in the shop!

     

     

     

    -Matt

     
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    Mar 26, 2013 4:55 AM   in reply to peter at knowhowpro

    Adobe

    peter at knowhowpro wrote:

     

    IMO, the real question is "what do you expect to accomplish by migrating from unstructured FM to structured FM? The benefits of structured authoring tools are mixed with the pain of learning to use them, learning to write structured content, learning to convert existing FM unstructured documents to structured FM.

     

    Search Google for terms like "compare FrameMaker to InDesign," "structured FrameMaker vs unstructured FrameMaker," "migrating from unstructured FrameMaker to structured FM," "value of structured FrameMaker authoring," "structured authoring tutorial," without quotes for lots of links. Also, consider posting your questions to the unstructured and structured FrameMaker forums, as well as here on the InDesign forum.

     

    If you've found that your writing team folks resist using FrameMaker paragraph and character formats consistently, and they treat documentation style guides as mild suggestions, getting them to embrace structured authoring will not come easily.

     

    Matt's book linked in this thread is an excellent guide to unstructured Framemaker.  There are others available though, unlike guides for structured Framemaker.  Not one exists.

     

    If you google everything Peter suggests, you have a mish-mash of reasons why you should convert to structured and some guides as to how it works.  I already know all this, but how to actually create a structured environment is not covered anywhere except for a short guid on conversion tables on Adobe's own site.

     

    Very, very frustrating.

     

    Sorry if I've hijacked the thread a bit. FWIW, I think ID would need years of work to provide what FM does, and that is if  were dedicated to it. Not a chance will they merge in my opinion.

     
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    Mar 26, 2013 6:54 AM   in reply to bowen192

    Lynne Price, founder of http://www.txstruct.com, was one of the principal developers of FM's SGML structured personality, which was FrameBuilder, at first, then morphed into FM+SGML, both separate products from unstructured FM. Later, the two products combines into the FM we have known for several recent releases. FM's structured XML features evolved from those origins.

     

    Adobe bought FM and the FM+SGML training materials. AFAIK, they've not been updated to cover structured FM with XML The original course segments included authoring documents with an existing structured application and EDD, creating EDDs, and developing read/write rules and applications. I don't know if those materials still exist, and if they may put into public domain, if the courses they were distributed with are no longer taught.

     

    Lynn may know something about these older materials. She also teaches and consults on structured FM. You might want to contact her to see if any of her training materials are available separately from in-person classes.

     

    Yes, I agree that, aside from the basic complexity of learning to live the structured authoring life, there's the issue of getting all stakeholders in the documentation workflow to learn to live that life, plus, learning how to accomplish FM-like operations with the current state of ID's structured tools. These difficulties are matched by the difficulty of convincing Adobe that there's a sufficiently profitable market to develop ID's structured tools further. You might estimate the effort by multiplying the effort that's been invested in repeatedly requesting improvements in ID's footnotes, with no results, yet, by some factor. Ten times the effort? One hundred?

     

    HTH

     

     

    Regards,

     

     

    Peter

    _______________________

    Peter Gold

    KnowHow ProServices

     

     

    Very, very frustrating.

     

    Sorry if I've hijacked the thread a bit. FWIW, I think ID would need years of work to provide what FM does, and that is if  were dedicated to it. Not a chance will they merge in my opinion.

     
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    Mar 26, 2013 7:14 AM   in reply to peter at knowhowpro

    Interesting that, Peter, cheers.

     

    I'll contact LP and see if she can shed some light.

     
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    Mar 26, 2013 10:14 AM   in reply to bowen192

    @Bowen192, I have materials for my structured FrameMaker training classes that are available for purchase. I updated the Adobe version of the materials to address FrameMaker v.7 (these materials incorporate the FM5.5 book structure changes, as well as changes with the merging of FrameMaker+SGML and FrameMaker versions. There are three books:

      1. Authoring Structured Docs. Covers creating and editing structured content using an existing template.
      2. Creating EDD's. Covers creating a FrameMaker EDD, which is basically a DTD plus formatting rules. This book also contains information on creating conversion tables for converting from unstructured to structured content.
      3. Import/Export of SGML. This book (in a fairly outdated fashion) explains the process and detail of setting up a FrameMaker Structured Application file.

    I've used these materials for countless SGML, XML, and a few DITA clients, and have used them 3 or 4 times for FrameMaker 11 clients.

     

    Please let me know if you're interested in these books, and of course, my unstructured FrameMaker 11 book is available as well.

     

    -Matt

     

    Matt R. Sullivan
    co-author Publishing Fundamentals: Unstructured FrameMaker 11
    P: 714.960.6840 | C: 714.585.2335 | matt@mattrsullivan.com

    @mattrsullivan LinkedIn facebook mattrsullivan.com


     
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    Mar 26, 2013 11:00 AM   in reply to mattrsullivan

    @mattsllivan

     

    Nice one Matt.  Can you link us up or PM me?

     

    I'm interested in converting structured to unstructured or starting from scratch.  I've used Structured for years, but never got round to the creation side of things.

     

    Thanks.

     
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    Mar 26, 2013 2:19 PM   in reply to jmw_ashrae

    There's also an Adobe Whitepaper comparing FM11 and ID CS6 available at:

     

    https://www.adobe.com/cfusion/entitlement/index.cfm?e=framemaker_white paper

     
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    Mar 27, 2013 9:10 AM   in reply to Arnis Gubins

    This white paper's creation date is in 2012, but some of the InDesign features or abilities marked N/A or described as weak or missing compared to FrameMaker features or abilities, seem to be based on InDesign releases prior to 2012. Ironically, updating the white paper to reflect any improved or added features that more closely approach the other product's abilities, could make it harder to choose one over the other.

     

    The summary suggests that both FM and ID may be needed within an enterprise for accomplishing the results in which one or the other may be superior for the needs of different departments. However, it doesn't address the difficulty of exchanging content between departments that use FM and those that use ID, or departments that use both products. Also, it doesn't mention the cost of separately training users for each product. For content that is intended to be common in productions from both products, the most efficient workflow might be to author the content in XML, for which additional training may be required.

     

    If cloud-distributed software comes to be almost universal, ironically, a combined engine-like product with user-selectable components for specialized needs, could replace the pair. This would resemble the old QuarkXpress model of add-on features for additional cost. Users could install the central engine and incorporate components suited to their specialized needs.  Unlike Quark's pay-for-what-you-install, if the combined product follows the Creative Suite example of access to all suite members for one subscription price, there would be no need for extra cost for extra features.

     

    I'm not advocating for one or the other product here, just noting what might be possible in the future. High development cost might be an obstacle to Adobe's adopting such a goal, but if a case for significantly less expensive future development and technical maintenance were made, the powers that be might opt to go in that direction.

     

    Regards,

     

     

    Peter

    _______________________

    Peter Gold

    KnowHow ProServices

     

    Arnis Gubins wrote:

     

    There's also an Adobe Whitepaper comparing FM11 and ID CS6 available at:

     

    https://www.adobe.com/cfusion/entitlement/index.cfm?e=framemaker_white paper

     
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