[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next]
[Date Index] [Thread Index] [New search]

Re: How FM plug-in developers are losing corporate sales

Hi Hedley,

I try to design my plug-ins, scripts, etc. to appeal to the day-to-day users and to solve their problems. "Easy to install" probably wouldn't impress most users for two simple reasons. In many cases, the user doesn't have to install it; it is done by IT or a support person like you. Even if they do have to install it themselves, they suffer through the installation process once, and then enjoy the new productivity gains every day thereafter :-). It's similar to when I buy one of my kids a bicycle or a piece of furniture. They are not too concerned about the hassle I will go through to put the thing together.

There is merit to what you say, but it is unlikely that you will get a raft of independent plugin developers to standardize on installation, licensing, and help. And then, who's to say which plug-ins make it into the top-ten list?

Personally, I use the "copy the [Program] folder into the fminit/Plugins folder inside of your FrameMaker folder and restart FrameMaker" method for my plug-ins. With this method, you can keep all of the related files together in the [Program] folder and you don't have to fool with the maker.ini file. The downside is for plug-ins that use configuration files, because you dictate to the users where the files have to be, instead of allowing installation whereever is most convenient.

I am open to specific suggestions, especially if I can get a couple of mine in the top-ten :-).

Rick Quatro
Carmen Publishing

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

** To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@xxxxxxxxx ** ** with "unsubscribe framers" (no quotes) in the body. **