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Re: Database Publishing Suggestions

My original message that kicked off the debate between myself and David
Evans of Finite Matters about the comparative advantages of UniMerge and
PatternStream was as follows:
The answer is UniMerge, by Refined Reports. I've been using it for about 4
years to produce all sorts of ready-to-print FrameMaker documents from
database extracts. At $695 for Windows Platforms ($995 for Unix), it does
everything PatternStream does faster and better, at a fraction of the
PatternStream license cost. If anyone is interested, I'll send you a 6-page
PDF file describing database publishing with FrameMaker and UniMerge.
Not having received any further rebuttals in the past 5 days from Mr. Evans,
I conclude that the following facts are not in dispute:
1. Mr. Evans originally took offense to my claim that UniMerge was faster
than PatternStream, declaring:
"To be clear, PatternStream will out perform any meta-tagged based system --
bar none."
He also stated that he preferred to measure speed by the number of pages per
minute produced by the competing products. He cited PatternStream's
performance to be between 5 and 72 pages per minute. I responded by sending
him an example of a high-end UniMerge database publishing application in
which I achieved a production rate of 1000 pages per minute on a 266 MHz
platform. I've also achieved production rates of up to 5000 records per
minute on the same platform.
UNDISPUTED CONCLUSION: My original claim that UniMerge was faster than
PatternStream has been substantiated by Evan's own performance figures.

2. Mr. Evans seemed to think that UniMerge is a "meta-tagged based system".
It is not. It can use nearly any commonly used format for database output,
and does not require any "meta-tagging" of the database output.
UNDISPUTED CONCLUSION: UniMerge is not a meta-tagged based system. The main
difference between the two products is that UniMerge uses a powerful command
language (the commands are embedded in the WYSIWYG FrameMaker report
template) instead of a GUI. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that
applications that don't have GUIs run much faster than those that do. Also,
it's much easier to add new features, (e.g., new commands) to a non-GUI
application. On at least 4 or 5 occasions, I've made suggestions to Refined
Reports for improving UniMerge. In each case, I got a Beta version back for
testing in less than 4 weeks. 

3. Mr. Evans disputed my statement that there were many cases where a live
database connection for database publishing was out of the question,
declaring that:

"I can't think of a case that it is absolutely out of the question"

In response, I re-stated that, from my experience, it is more commonly the
case that a live connection is not available, and provided numerous
real-world reasons why that constraint often exists.
UNDISPUTED CONCLUSION: Although UniMerge and PatternStream both have a live
connection capability, it is more often the case that, not only is such a
connection unavailable, but even if it were, it is often more efficient to
perform the database publishing activity in a batch processing mode, as
UniMerge can do. There remains a question of whether PatternStream presently
has a true off-line batch processing capability.

4. PatternStream's GUI might, in some cases, reduce development time a bit,
but UniMerge's far more flexible approach, combined with the power of its
command language, has distinct advantages for solving problems that might be
intractable with a GUI.

5. PatternStream requires far more computer resources than UniMerge, as
proven by the system requirements specified on the Finite Matters web site.
I've used UniMerge with my 266 MHZ platform (32 MB memory and a 2.1 GB hard
drive) for numerous high-end database publishing projects, some having as
many as 50,000 pages.

6. I continue to maintain that UniMerge can do 95% of what PatternStream can
do, and do it much faster with fewer computer resources. But I also contend
that the remaining 5% of applications which PatternStream could crack is
probably offset by the 5-15 percent of applications crackable with UniMerge
which could not be cracked with PatternStream. Although I do not know
PatternStreams's license cost (that seems to be a closely-held secret), I do
know that UniMerge, at the retail price of $695 for Windows ($995 for Unix),
is at least 10 to 20 times less costly than a PatternStream license. Macs
running Real PC can use the Windows version. 
     | Nullius in Verba |
Dan Emory, Dan Emory & Associates
FrameMaker/FrameMaker+SGML Document Design & Database Publishing
Voice/Fax: 949-722-8971 E-Mail: danemory@primenet.com
10044 Adams Ave. #208, Huntington Beach, CA 92646

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