FrameMaker Discrepancy

Subject: FrameMaker Discrepancy
From: Alisa Dean <Alisa -dot- Dean -at- MCI -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 5 Dec 1996 10:24:00 -0700

Eric Haddock writes:

< How can there be two so divergent views about this application? Some say
<you can't call yourself a TW without living in Frame, and others, from
<students to already employed TWs, either haven't heard of it before or
<don't personally know anyone who uses it.
< A lack of training availability, a lack of requirements for Frame
<proficiency for jobs, and a lack information, have all been addressed by
<list readers. If Frame is _it_ for technical writing, how could these
<conditions exist?

< Perhaps it's a regional thing? Are there more people using Frame in,
<say, California than there are in say the midwest or Canada?

< Where are you? Do you and your colleagues use Frame as the main tool?

Actually, I think there are many factors that determine whether Frame
or Word is used. The site where I am now considered converting to
Frame (primarily based on the TWs' recommendations), but chose not
to for the following reasons:

o Expense - Frame is over $500-$600 a copy, whereas there was already
a Microsoft Office Suite site license in place.

o Familiarity - The typical cycle of a document here is that a developer
creates the rough draft in Word, then gives it to the TWs to convert
into the standard template, edit, fill in the gaps, whatever. After
the document is finalized, it is posted to an intranet Web site as
a link that allows the viewer to download a copy of the document.
If we used Frame, we would have to provide a Frame document viewer
to every possible user of the Web site. Again, because of the MS site
license, everyone currently has Word.

o Maintainability - Most of the TWs here are contractors, so that if
a new one is hired, or an old one replaced, it would be necessary to
guarantee that the new hire knows Frame.

Personally, I've wrestled with Word for years, and pretty much can
make it do what I want, even if some of the solutions aren't very elegant.
Granted, there were a lot of "hair pulling" incidents in my life.
Even so, most people that I have met have dealt with a word processor
in some form or another, so can figure out the basics in Word.

I'm in the process of learning Frame, and it seems a relatively easy
software. However, for non-TW people who may not be familiar with
the terminology and requirements for publications, Frame may be confusing.

In answer to your question, I've used the following software in my

WordPerfect 2 years (looong time ago)
QuarkXpress 1 year
MS Word 7 years
Frame learning now

In Colorado, my impression is that Frame is used primarily by true
publishing departments, whether in-house or commercial. Word is
the software for almost all TW departments that I've encountered,
because it is relatively cheap and "easy" to learn. OTOH, I've been
seeing Frame mentioned much more often in the want ads lately, which
may be a reflection of all the new companies moving out here. Personally,
I believe we are seeing an evolution in process, such as when WordStar
was replaced by WordPerfect, and then WordPerfect by MS Word, and now
maybe MS Word by Frame.

Whatever it is, I've found in the real world, that sometimes the best
solution to a problem is not available, so one must make do with what
one has, even if it is MS Word.

Alisa Dean
Sr. Technical Writer
alisa -dot- dean -at- mci -dot- com

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