A review by Rebecca Downey
Track Changes By Integrated Technologies Inc.
Price 99$US for 1 seat. Contact Integrated Technologies for more details on multiple-seat pricing.
Integrated Technologies Inc.
20 Risho Avenue
East Providence RI 02914 USA
Integrated Technologies Inc's Track Changes is a plug in for Adobe FrameMaker 6.0. It uses conditional text to show additions as "Inserted at Review" and deletions as "Removed at Review". These two conditional text tags are fully configurable in appearance and act as any other conditional text item in Adobe FrameMaker 6.0. The plug in also adds a new toolbar to the FrameMaker interface, allowing for speedy access to the conditional tags editor, and the ability to:
Windows Operating System.
Adobe FrameMaker 6.0.
In the process of reviewing a manual for publication through our company, I had five reviewers comments to enter and mark in such a way that the reviewers could view them easily. With smaller documents, I saved multiple versions and used the Document Compare option in Adobe FrameMaker to produce a "change" document. Reviewers could then easily see where text was added, modified and deleted and focus their commentary accordingly.
Saving multiple copies of a 200+ page manual was a larger task than I had initially planned to perform. Track Changes was announced on the FrameUser's email group and it seemed like a more attractive solution to my problems.
I used Track Changes for a total of one month with Integrated Technologies's agreement to test the product. The company was quick to reply to my complaint and offered an upgrade that did solve my problems. Track Changes effectively tracked reviewers comments in a 200 page manual consisting of five files, numerous cross references, detailed formatting and imported EPS images. At no time did Track Changes corrupt any of the files (graphics or Adobe FrameMaker files) upon which it was used.
Track Changes made it far easier to deal with the Conditional Text in Adobe FrameMaker than working without it. The Conditional Text window takes up real-estate on the desktop. When comparing reviewers comments to documents on screen I do not always have enough space to display everything cleanly. The Conditional Text window can be annoying and I find I always have to shift its location to see the text it is covering.
The ability to play "What If", that is to view the document as if I had accepted all the changes made for easy on-the-spot editing and allowed me to print out both marked (Track Changes on) and unmarked (Track Changes What If) without manually changing anything within the document.
Being able to move from change to change with the click of the button removes the necessity to use Adobe FrameMaker's Search; which requires more menu navigation.
The plug in automatically sets up the two tags it uses the first time you select Track Changes from the plugin menu or click on its icon in the icon bars.
It is very easy to both install and remove.
When Track Changes is "on", you have access to multiple undo's. Track Changes seems to be able to remember the last few changes made to any document and be able to undo them in the order that they were done. When Track Changes is "off", you do not have access to this much-needed feature. Also, if you save a document or place it in "What If" mode, you cannot access the multiple undo capability. As soon as you begin editing again, or leave the "What If" mode however, the capability returns.
Track Changes came on automatically when I opened a document or shifted between a document with Track Changes already on and one that had Track Changes off. During the review process I often shift between a file containing the reviewers comments and the source, the former does not need to be marked up, while the later does.
Whenever I was adding text with Track Changes on and I pressed backspace to remove a typo, the formatting of the following paragraph as well as the paragraph break was lost as if I had pressed delete rather than backspace. Since I often make typos as I edit this meant lots of touchups around edited text.
My process had five reviewers. Track Changes has two Conditional Text formats. I tried to add others, but there was no way to automatically select these other Conditional Text formats or apply them without using the Conditional Text menu.
Documents saved with "What If" turned on, then closed, then reopened had "What If" turned off. Similar things occurred after each Book update and generation of lists and indexes.
In the first beta I downloaded Adobe FrameMaker became frequently unstable, and crashed whenever I tried to accept or reject all changes across a document. After reporting this to Integrated Technologies they offered me a second download which made Adobe FrameMaker more stable and seemed to work. Most times. Adobe FrameMaker remained unstable throughout the second beta period, but the accept all and reject all buttons did work.
Twice Adobe FrameMaker crashed when the document was in "What If" mode. When I reopened the document, I found several colors were no longer defined properly and that all the change markings had been removed from the recover file produced by Adobe FrameMaker. Fortunately the backup file had everything properly displayed and I was able to use these two files to recreate the work I would have otherwise lost. This occured once with each beta I downloaded and installed over a period of 30 days.
There is no book-wide functionality in Track Changes. Instead it relies upon you to use it in a document-by-document process. The lack of a book-wide function to accept all, reject all or play "What If" was noticeable in my review. Specifically an added item to the View menu when a book is displayed to play "What If" across the book would have been very handy.
This is a convenient and relatively well-behaved plug in. Out of a possible 4 stars, I give it 3. I used it frequently and intend to buy a copy in the coming months.
Integrated Technologies offers a beta which you can download and try for 15 days, after which you must register to continue using it.