Re: Justifying FM (was About The Cloud: Quick-Read, Suggestions)

Subject: Re: Justifying FM (was About The Cloud: Quick-Read, Suggestions)
From: Tony Chung <tonyc -at- tonychung -dot- ca>
To: Chris Morton <salt -dot- morton -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 11 Apr 2013 10:31:28 -0700

Chris, I guess you're lucky you dodged that bullet. But frankly I find the
proponents of both sides completely missing the point.

InDesign is a desktop publishing system. Regardless of all its authoring
features, ID excels at page layout. I laugh that people author in it,
because you can't repurpose your content once you've got it in there. But
at least the docs look pretty.

FrameMaker is a cross-platform behemoth that is long in the tooth (and its
cross-platform nature hasn't been updated, so that's one less feature).
While it excels at structured documentation and conditional text, most
companies use it--AS A PAGE LAYOUT PROGRAM. Yes. Unstructured FM is still
more widely used than structured, because it's an absolute beast to set up,
maintain, and requires genius level scripting to make even simple things
easy. Plus it removes every instance where I insert two spaces after
punctuation (ba-doomp-CRASH).

IF I were forced to use FM, I would set up a workflow where I used FM as an
authoring interface with restrictive editing fields, store the output as
XML in a database somewhere, then import into ID for layout. But most
companies I've worked for are happy with Word (which does neither
structured documentation, reuse, or page layout remotely well, in- or out
-of-the-box).

My dream job -- and yes, I'll take offers if you're hiring -- would be to
convert a technical communications department away from non-structured
documentation with 0 reuse, and walk with them into the 21 century, where
we treat content as a traceable asset, identify opportunities for reuse and
branching, enterprise wide at minimal cost. I'd prefer to work with an
XML-based system like Oxygen/XDocs, but I could be convinced to explore
Quark/In:vision or SmartDocs Word plugins.

-Tony
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References:
Re: Justifying FM (was About The Cloud: Quick-Read, Suggestions): From: Peter Gold
Re: Justifying FM (was About The Cloud: Quick-Read, Suggestions): From: Chris Morton

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