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How FM plug-in developers are losing corporate sales

Hackers, code-cutters, and devil-whoppers:

FrameMaker is indeed blessed with many wonderful plug-ins that vastly 
increase its utility.  Most plug-ins came into being because their 
developers had an itch to scratch, and marketed them as a useful utility 
that a fellow sufferer might want.  That is, the assumption behind the 
business model is that most FrameMaker users personally own their copy and 
are completely responsible for maintaining and upgrading it, and are also 
the purchasing decision makers.  The reality is that most FM users are 
employees of companies who generally own multiple licences.

As someone whose job it is to support FrameMaker in a small team of ten 
writers, installing and updating a reasonable set of productivity 
enhancing plug-ins is a real pain.  I would rather be handcuffed and 
hog-tied, then made to wriggle naked across red-hot broken glass than set 
up a new writer with FM and a standard operating environment of plug-ins 
and their configuration files. 

Each developer has a different installation method, sometimes with an 
installer (yay!) but often requiring files to be copied into specific 
directories and maker.ini to be edited.  Each has different ideas about 
where the plug-in should be placed and where its configuration files 
should be.  Configuration files are sometimes just key-value *.ini files, 
other times special FrameMaker files are required, and then some 
initialisation information may even be on reference pages (I concede that 
sometimes specialist FM files or ref. pages are necessary).

And don't even get me started on the byzantine licensing schemes.  Some 
require you to submit the FM serial number from which a hash activation 
key is calculated by the developer.  I really love collecting the serial 
numbers from ten copies of FrameMaker every time we upgrade to a new 
release, then emailing them to the developer, receiving the hash keys, and 
visiting each installation to type in the activation key so the plug-in 
will work. Others require you to edit an *.ini file and some have a 
registration dialogue that pops up.  Yeah, I really love going around to 
ten workstations and setting up eight plug-ins.

So you can see how the administration and maintenance of a reasonable 
number of plug-ins, plus configuring them (don't forget that!) could be a 
real pain and deter corporate customers.  So have you plug-in developers 
collectively realised what a huge barrier faces corporate customers who 
would love to use plug-ins but are deterred by the hassle?  A few of you 
out there who are completely in denial will suggest that writers could 
install the plug-ins themselves.  Yeah, right, and they will probably take 
their turn at stacking the dishwasher in the kitchenette, not stealing 
someone else's coffee, parking their cars in the spaces reserved for staff 
and not in those reserved for customers which are much closer to the 
office, completing their timesheets on time, and not creating cowboy para 

Adobe has its Creativity Suite of applications.  Why can't we have our 
FrameMaker Plug-in Productivity Package consisting of ten useful plug-ins 
with a consistent installation and registration system that sys admins and 
Tech. Comms support people can use to easily deploy as a standard 
environment on all the workstations within their care?  Too hard?  Then 
why don't you just licence your code to Adobe to clean up and integrate 
cleanly into the menu structure and GUI?


Hedley Finger
Technical Communications Tools & Processes Specialist
MYOB Australia <http://myob.com/au>
P.O. box 371   Blackburn VIC 3130   Australia
12 Wesley Court   Tally Ho Business Park   East Burwood VIC 3151 Australia
Tel. +61 3 9222 9992 x 7421,   Mob. (cell) +61 412 461 558

© MYOB Technology Pty Ltd 2005

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