Re: Does Frame Suck? From a new user

Subject: Re: Does Frame Suck? From a new user
From: Dick Margulis <margulis -at- fiam -dot- net>
Date: Fri, 21 Jul 2000 07:14:47 -0400


First, an important disclaimer: this response is not directed at you;
please do not take it personally.

Your situation reminds me of the tech support story that ends with the
support person telling the customer to pack up the computer and send it
back for a refund. When she asks why, he tells her, "Because you're too
dumb to own a computer." (This is only funny in the context of the
story, but I assume everyone here has read it by now.)

I've said this before, and I'll say it again. Some people embrace
complex tools, love the level of control they get by having lots of
levers and dials to tweak, and can turn out museum-quality work by using
those tools. Other people (not dumb people, just people with different
priorities in life) want to focus on the concept and content of their
creation, not the tools used to execute it. They are willing to trade
off the ability to make subtle design distinctions for the ability to
push a button and get their message out.

The market addresses the needs of both kinds of people. Consider
standard versus automatic transmissions, disposable versus high-end
adjustable cameras, low-end versus high-end sewing machines, Macs versus

If you, Barb, are not a tool lover and want to concentrate on content
instead, you should pack up your FrameMaker and ship it back. I mean
that. Managers--including your manager, Barb--need to relearn the basic
lesson that DIVISION OF LABOR IS A GOOD THING. Tech writers are not
fungible. The ones who want to tweak levers and dials (like me) should
be doing the production work. The ones who want to focus on conducting
usability studies, organizing content, checking facts, and maintaining
consistency should do that. The ones who want to focus on careful
language use, reading comprehension issues, and localization issues
should do that.

It sounds good to say that I, as a manager, am going to encourage
everyone on my team to become an independent, full-service tech writer,
and that therefore each person is going to eventually become expert in
all those sub-disciplines. But it flies in the face of common sense and
all human experience to think that everyone wants to do that or can do

Deciding that the department is going to use FrameMaker for all of its
output does not mean that everyone in the department needs to become
expert in its use. It means that SOMEONE needs to become expert in its
use. If others just want to write, let 'em write in Notepad. What's it
to ya'?

My two cents.


Barbara Jeffries wrote:
> Some of you know I am relatively new to Frame and am
> learning it now.
> I have to tell you - this has got to be one of the
> strangest software packages I have ever seen. Of
> course, it could just be that I don't know some trick,
> or haven't gotten it all down yet.
> It is really excellent in many ways. But it has also
> got all of these things that it doesn't (I don't think
> ) do.
[rest snipped to get past the listbot]

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