Re: Framemaker vs. Pagemaker

Subject: Re: Framemaker vs. Pagemaker
From: Sara Schertz <SSchertz -at- INTERFACESOFTWARE -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 17 Nov 1998 12:12:10 -0600

Kathleen Mattson wrote:
> This isn't a "Why Framemaker over Pagemaker?" question as
> much as it is a
> "why do *TechWriters* prefer Framemaker while Marketing and
> design folks
> prefer Quark and Pagemaker?" question.

My response:

I used PageMaker for a 323 page book last spring. I will never do that
again. It is a great tool for some things, but not suited to the type of
work I do.

- I had (obviously) lots of text to write. PageMaker's text editing features
(the story editor) are not very strong, so I wrote in Word and imported into
pagemaker. Maintaining the text in one tool and the layout in another was
cumbersome. PM's ability to link to word documents was not reliable, either.

- Preparing review copies required extensive layout time - I had to add in
my "tip" boxes, add graphics and captions, etc. Of course, once I added
these elements, making any changes / rearranging sections required re-doing
the layout. Very inefficient.

- I prefer to work on the text and graphics at the same time - as I write, I
go off and take screenshots / draw diagrams / etc., then put them right into
the document. I didn't like the big separation between the writing and the
layout - I prefer to see how it looks with the graphics as I go.

- No built-in way to do tables. The table editor that comes with it is ok,
but not very powerful or reliable. Tables are treated like graphic objects -
they don't break across pages. I had several two+ page tables. Therefore, I
spend a ridiculous amount of time manually splitting tables into two files
and inserting each separately. Of course, if pagination changed, I had to
update the tables. ugh.

- Flipping through a large number of pages in PageMaker is cumbersome. You
can't just scroll down - you have to find the page in that thing on the
bottom (don't know what it is called). This is great for short documents,
but a pain for big ones.

There are many other reasons, but those came to mind first.

The reason I did this book in PM in the first place was as a test -- Word
blew up on us when working on some of our larger books in our last release,
so we were in the market for a new tool. PageMaker didn't pass the test for
the reasons above. Now we are using FrameMaker. It has its own set of quirks
and oddities, but is much better suited to our docs than PM was.

I believe our marketing department does use PM and is happy with it. But
then, they don't write 323 page brochures, either! :)

Sara Schertz
Interface Software, Inc.
sschertz -at- interfacesoftware -dot- com

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