DTP Shootout

Subject: DTP Shootout
From: Tim Altom <taltom -at- IQUEST -dot- NET>
Date: Wed, 4 Dec 1996 21:34:00 EST

Here we go again...Frame, PM, Word, WordPerfect (Is THAT product still on
the market?)

We use two basic products here: Frame and Word. Word gets a workout, just
because so many clients already have it. It's for shorties, letters, manuals
with few cross-references, few pages, few problems. It might work for some
types of documents that are heavily textual and chapter-compartmented, but
it's not a starship product.

For heavy lifting, we use Frame. Period. It's just too damned expensive to
do anything else. We've learned the hard lesson that the major expense in a
project isn't up-front, it's out-back, where the changes are made. It's
much, much more expensive to make alterations than to write initially, or to
set up the template, but we're almost always working in an environment that
expects a document to be extraordinarily malleable even as it's heading for
the "out" basket. Enter Frame. With a strong template and heavy structural
enforcement, changes get to be extremely simple, even when the changes
ripple through thousands of pages. It's reliable, stable, and flexible, with
great template control. PM can't come close to the features, although it
tries. Quark doesn't have a toe-hold in the techdoc market at all, and
Interleaf's market share has pretty much rolled over and given up its ghost
to Frame.

We use Frame for laying out manuals, database publishing, book publishing,
dual-document creation, help files, online, and just about everything but
brochures. It has very good table features (as compared to, say, PM), and
unlike Word's master document feature, Frame's book feature is almost
bulletproof. Frame cruises effortlessly from Unix to Mac to PC, a big
feature in our environments.

Our general rule is that when a document is over a hundred pages or so, Word
isn't the tool we choose, unless the client insists.

Oh, sure, we've run into problems. Nothing's ideal. In fact, our shop is
still a little nostalgic for Ventura Publisher. But of the
commonly-available packages, Frame has allowed us to save the most money
doing projects. And that's where we have to live.

Tim Altom
Vice President, Simply Written, Inc.
317.899.5882 (voice) 317.899.5987 (fax)
FrameMaker support ForeHelp support
FrameMaker-to-HTML Conversions
HTML Help Consulting and Production


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