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Rolling up responses to Ananda and Chuck's son into one message....

Ananda wrote:

> I've used M$Word, on and off, since 1.0 on the Mac. The only time I use 
> it now is on the Mac, where we can't quite get OpenOffice to run.

I installed OOo 1.0.3 on my iBook; it installed & runs as well as
any X11-based apps I've dealt with. Were you trying to install
the 1.1rc version? I haven't tried that one primarily since it's
a huge tarball & I like to download stuff like that after-hours
(and haven't had the need to stay late this month). I'd really like
to get 1.1 installed since it has XML handling features (DocBook out
of the box, naturally, but I've been told that adapting it to
other DTDs is fairly simple).

Now, a few comments on the list of software from Chuck's son:

>OpenOffice.org Writer: This is usually viewed as a replacement for
>Microsoft Word, not as a replacement for FrameMaker, but I read an
>article that claims that it is more like FrameMaker than it is like
>Word. ...

Having experimented with it myself, I'd say it's closer to Word
in functionality but more like Frame in that it doesn't break as
easily. ;-)

>KWord: the KDE project's word processor, KWord, is advertised as a
>FrameMaker-like word processor.  It's frame-based.  You need to be
>running KDE to use it, so it is limited to platforms (such as Linux)
>that support KDE.

You can actually run Koffice (which includes KWord) on OSX --
a project called "Fink" maintains a great deal of free software
ported from Linux to run on OSX. Graphical programs use the X11
interface, but so does OpenOffice.

I tried out KWord a while back when I ran Linux, and wasn't
terribly impressed with the way it worked. Later versions are
probably better. Like OOo, Kword uses XML internally, so that
might be of interest if OOo doesn't float your boat for
whatever reason.

>LyX: a friendly, graphical front-end for TeX, a system for typesetting. 
>LyX is supposed to make it easy to write highly structured documents,
>and the styles control how everything looks.

What LyX does I would call "semi-structured" rather than
"highly structured." I've beat on LyX more than any of the
other programs on this list.

A few years ago, I actually floated the idea of migrating our
documentation department to LyX under Linux, and nearly had it
approved. Probably a good thing it didn't pass; LyX wasn't
quite ready for non-gearhead use back then.

Like many other Free documentation tools, LyX has at least some
DocBook support. My opinion, it's probably easier to use the
DocBook mode than to try forcing LaTeX to work with layouts that
use FrameMaker-type sideheads. Either way, chances are you'll
need to use ERT (Evil Red Text, or direct LaTeX/DocBook commands)
for certain formatting functions.

If your house style fits with what LaTeX thinks is a proper
layout, then LyX is certainly more than capable of handling
documentation chores. It has a nimble, comfortable interface
that makes simple things simple & difficult things possible.

>Vex: an XML editor, intended to be word processor-like and intended to
>be used with DocBook for authoring documents.  There are other XML
>editors out there as well; I haven't really tested any of them, so I
>just picked this one as an example.

I *have* tested quite a few of the graphical XML editors and
have found them all lacking in one quality or another. Vex's
primary drawback (found in several other editors as well) is
a requirement to jump through hoops to use something other
than the supplied DTDs -- IMO, you should be able to point
the editor at a DTD and stylesheet file & get to work. XMLmind
(aka XXE) is the worst in that regard; you need to write an
entire plugin (in Java) to use a different DTD. Pity, because
in other ways it's the most usable. The most flexible editor
I've tried so far is Morphon, but the current version has a bug
that makes it ignore the catalog file (so you have to refer to
DTD files by path, which makes portability difficult).

Oxygen and Serna are two I haven't tried that look promising,
mainly because I want to make sure I can put the 30-day eval
versions through their paces & get a good feel for them.

When editing raw XML, I've used Vim with the XML plugin quite
a bit lately (usually for wrapping plain text for import into
structured Frame). For composition, I'm looking at jEdit (also
with XML plugin) -- it does pretty much everything that Emacs+
PSGML does, but is easier to use than Emacs.

Larry Kollar, Senior Technical Writer, ARRIS
"Content creators are the engine that drives
value in the information life cycle."
    -- Barry Schaeffer, on XML-Doc

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