Re: FrameMaker > Help > FrameMaker?

Subject: Re: FrameMaker > Help > FrameMaker?
From: eric -dot- dunn -at- ca -dot- transport -dot- bombardier -dot- com
To: TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Tue, 12 Aug 2003 16:17:11 -0400

Sean Brierley <seanb_us -at- yahoo -dot- com> wrote on 08/12/2003 03:11:49 PM:
> I think the "win-win" is persuading your client to
> dump the proprietary binary and other proprietary
> platform-dependent software.

Now I realise that the post ends with a ";?P" so I hope that the whole
thing was meant tongue-in-cheek.

The only person/entity I see winning in the above scenario is the
contractor(s). Why should the customer pay a contractor thousands of
dollars to develop scripts, tagging, and workflow when commercially
available software does a perfectly acceptable job for a few hundred. Then
add to the equation that the client already has the software and shouldn't
have to shell out more.

Even Freeware/shareware/open source will cost time/money to develop a
solution that addresses the clients needs. Can you justify that cost
versus the cost of migrating to another format when for whatever reason
the current software ceases to function adequately?

> Persuade the client to have you work in a text editor
> producing ASCII-based stuff, like HTML or XML.

If you have an affordable existing system that can output acceptable print
from HTML then all right. I believe there is one that will do HTML to
XML? Damn easy to say. The difficulty is in the implementation. Like most
buzzwords it takes something complex and allows managers and others to
appear intelligent and dismiss inquiries with a quick and meaningless
obfuscation. Takes time and money to set up the XML system. Or you have to
spend a fortune on systems that are set up in a particular way. Why else
would everyone buy Arbortext to produce SGML/XML for the military? Because
it'll cost hundreds of times more to develop the XML system/application
for another package (say Frame+SGML) and even more to develop it from
scratch. Same reason there's a market for 15,000 dollar application
add-ons for FrameMaker for ATA compliant documentation. Cheaper to buy the
implementation than build from scratch.

> That way, you win because of all the cash and the
> length of the project and your client wins because
> they don't have to shell out for costly tools and
> neither do they get locked into platforms and tools.

So costly tools versus costly development. Got any ROI figures that can
say the development and implementation of the new system is really cheaper
in the long run? Once again, the tools have already been purchased, which
sets the bar even higher to prove the ROI for XML, HTML, whatever else.

> RoboHelp? FrameMaker? Why? Notepad and its ilk are
> less costly, stable, and your source files can be
> worked on *anywhere*. ;?P

If you only want to print minimally formatted text or SGML/XML/HTML with
all it's tagging visible. AND if you want to give up all the advantages
that the commercial packages offer. Handling of Xrefs, variables, TOCs,
graphic importing and placement, etc.

"Spreadbury, David C." <David -dot- Spreadbury -at- marconi -dot- com> wrote on 08/12/2003
03:17:39 PM:
> I wouldn't use NotePad. Too many limitations. Try TextPad,
> with the XML addon (shareware), PFE32 (freeware), etc.

What does the XML produced look like? What's the tagging based on? How do
you develop the display and print? How much will it cost to manage and
develop this system versus going the commercial software route?

Eric L. Dunn

Senior Technical Writer

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