So my boss is wanting me to write a review on page layout/desktop publishing software, and they are convinced that they want FrameMaker on our lineup. As i look at it more and more, I just get more confused. Is it like InDesign or PagePlus? Or is it someting completely different and I am just an idiot. Also, don't answer the last part of that question.
What you use for page layout depends on your actual needs?
If your content is highly structured text and not graphically rich content, FrameMaker may be what you need.
If you are producing content that uses significant color, transparency effects, and/or multimedia, you should be looking more at InDesign.
What kind of work will you need to do with FrameMaker? What kind of publications does your company create now? What tools does your company use now? What reasons are there to consider changing tools or adding new tools? Who creates the documents - a single author from start-to-finish per publication, or multiple so multiple authors contribute content to one or several final-production workers? Will the deliverables on paper, Web, mobile devices, all? Do you need help systems as part of the projects?
The more information you provide, the more useful the responses will be.
In the old days when there were wars between MS Word adherents and FrameMaker loyals, a common taunt was "yaaah. Your Microsft user manuals are written in FrameMaker." FrameMaker's largest user-base has traditionally been technical writers. If you need to product tech publications, check out the forums on techwr-l.com. You can ask questions there about preferences between the various powerful tools like FrameMaker.
We won't be using it. I am a reviewer and our site we are working on is page layout software, InDesign, Publisher, PagePLus, QuarkX, those types of programs. So I am just reviewing the software. Unfortuantley there is no specific reason I can give. Mainly, I am just confused as to what FM is. It seems like its meant for developers, people who code, etc.
No, it is not meant for developers and people who code. It is highly optimized for long, technical documents (instruction manuals, scientific and engineering articles, etc.) such as those produced by technical writers. It can also be used for less technical documents, but its handling of sophisticated graphics is crufty at best!
Haven't seen the video tutorials, but if they show FM and XML together my bet is they're trying to highlight the way FM makes it easy to work with structured information. Again, not likely to be relevant for tasks concentrating on layout, but just so's you know.
IMO, your original post has an important clue, namely, "page layout and publishing." FrameMaker can do layout. When it was first introduced on unix, it was an achievement just to be able to work in WYSIWIG mode, rather than plain text, or for the power users, plain text with embedded formatting codes. So, users could have great layout control on screen, write text, create and import graphics in real time. Macintosh was only a few years old then, so even layout software on Mac wasn't that much more powerful than FrameMaker. However, as dedicated layout software evolved, FrameMaker's layout abilities weren't competitive, because it was evolving as a technical document publishing tool.
Although FrameMaker can do layout, it's not much farther along than when it was first introduced. Don't misunderstand, it was pretty good then, and it still is. But it's not on par with true layout tools. There's some confusion, because layout tools like InDesign have become hybrids, as they continue to incorporate more and more features that compare to FrameMaker's long and complex technical document abilities.
Search Google for terms like "reviews of framemaker," "framemaker compared to InDesign," and "framemaker for layout,"" without quotes for some links to additional perspectives on what FrameMaker is and its suitability for layout/design, compared to InDesign.
That makes sense. I will start from there then. Every time I open up a video tutorial, it is an XML page that they are working on, so that's why I was thinking it was for dev.
Thanks for your help.
No questions are silly, except those unasked. I'm not sure which "last" question you mean.
As to cost, for their intended users, FrameMaker and InDesign are priced as needed to recover development and maintenance cost, like any product. As to value, if you buy the wrong tool for the purpose, it's too expensive.
As I suggested earlier, look in the technical writer's most relevant user site, techwr-l.com, and ask specific questions in their user forum. It's the best group to respond.
InDesign has so much more to offer - not only more vs. FrameMaker, but more vs. all other current layout applications, for layout because it's made for layout.
If your review is just about features and general overviews, you'll probably not develop enough experience on FrameMaker or InDesign to base recommendations upon.
So then my last question is just plain silly: how come this software is so expensive? As I've been testing FM and InDesign, it seems like InDesign has SO much more to offer.
Along with the excellent responses previously submitted, here are my two go-to Fm v. ID rules:
InDesign is great for collateral and desktop publishing, Fm is great for long docs and docs with a long life cycle.
InDesign's strength is its flexibility, Fm's strength is its repeatability and consistency.