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Rumour: FM really is dead

Dear framers,

As you probably know, Adobe will release FM 7.1 for Windows and Solaris,
but not for the Macintosh. This has lead to speculations that Adobe will
discontinue FM development for the Mac and not provide an OS X version.

Now, the situation may be much worse... On the FrameUsers mailing list,
Jan Henning <henning@r-l.de>, has posted the following information:

I have received offlist a report on internal Adobe information that 
confirms that Adobe has decided to end FrameMaker development and 
migrate users to InDesign. The nature of the information suggests that 
this may happen earlier than two years hence.

(Note: There is no way for me to check this information. So please 
treat it as a rumor, although I have no reason to doubt it's accuracy.)

In an offline discussion, Jan clarified that he does not know the 
person who provided the information well. The person claimed to
have had access to internal Adobe documents which contained the
above information; Jan has not himself seen these documents.

Even though this source can be wrong, or the decision has not yet
been cut in stone and distributed to involved parties, I must say
it's in line with Adobe's treatment of FM so far and the way they
desperately avoid saying anything useful about future directions.
Do you really think Adobe's stock would plunge after announcing,
for instance, "yes, we're working on an MacOS X version of FM,
but no release date has been set"? Exactly how would that hurt
Adobe, the users, other Adobe products, or FM's competetive edge?

With my 10+ years experience of FM and Adobe, I would take this
"rumour" very seriously. Do not make your workflow or planning
dependent on an FM 8 release or an FM version for MacOS X.
Start investigating future alternatives to FM right now, even if
you can continue to use the present version(s) for some time.
(Can you count on FM 5-7 to run on Windows Longhorn in 2005?)
Even if the rumour is wrong, it's clear that Adobe won't rewrite,
correct or extend FM's core code any more; only minor feature
enhancements and bug fixes will be made. Only the most optimistic
Adobe fans (stock holders?) can reasonably think otherwise.

Needless to say, InDesign is not an option today for most documents
that FM is suitable for. As I understand, the feature enhancements
needed for ID to become a replacement for FM are quite extensive,
possibly in the same order of effort as modernizing the FM code.
Not to mention the fact that all UNIX users of FM looks to be,
once again, left out in the cold. But people working on UNIX and
Linux cannot possibly be "creative professionals" now, can they?
Not only are they working on hopelessly stable platforms, they
insist on using the non-creative FM product...

Sorry about that rant. Again, Jan's source may be misinformed.
Let's hope so. Otherwise, Adobe has missed the opportunity to
completely dominate the document publishing market. That sounds
like a potential goldmine to me.

Thomas Michanek, FrameMaker/UNIX/MIF expert
Technical Communicator, Uppsala, Sweden

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