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Don't Let the Rat Pack Get You Down


I am a former active poster to the framers list. I noted that Marcus Carr
called you a "kindred spirit" to someone else who also made postings
critical of Adobe. He was referring to me. In September, my posting
privileges on the FrameUsers list were suspended as a direct outgrowth of
posts that were critical of Adobe.

You should know that there is a rat pack of 10-15 Adobe aplogists who
respond like trained seals to critical posting like yours. Their purpose is
to intimidate you. Don't let them succeed.

You should also know that the great majority of the 2000 subscribers on the
FrameUsers list are "lurkers." They never post anything. No one knows why
they subscribe, or what they think, but they're the real audience.

In late September of this year, a new list, "Free Framers"
<framers@omsys.com>, was started as an alternative to the FrameUsers list.
There are already 200+ subscribers. Many of us joined because we were fed up
with the mismanagement of the FrameUsers list, particularly the way the list
owner attempts to suppress the free exchange of ideas (the rat pack being
one method). I strongly suggest you subscribe to the new list. You will find
that Free Framers subscribers are usually more receptive to postings such as
yours. Just send a message whose body has the single word "subscribe"
(without the quotes) to majordomo@omsys.com.

Undeniably, FrameMaker was developed and designed for use by engineers and
other right-brained types. Left-brainers do not find it intuitive. Because
of the sad state of the V5.5 documentation, it's become even more difficult
to learn. Most formal training courses leave much to be desired, however,
Adobe's Classroom in a Book for FrameMaker is quite good. Systematic
experimentation, making mistakes and learning from them, and storing up
those experiences for future use is still the best way to learn, as is the
case with most complex software products.

Why bother, though, if there are other DTP's which are easier to use?

Here are a few reasons:

1. So far, at least, FrameMaker is not loaded up with feature bloat (i.e.
"nice-to-have" features which aren't really necessary). Avoiding feature
bloat is the key to crash-avoidance when working with 1000+ page documents.

2. FrameMaker rarely runs out of gas, meaning you can usually find a way to
do almost anything that needs to be done. Often, there are several ways to
do the same thing, and you get to choose the one that's best for each situation.

3. There are some excellent third-party products available for adding
features and capabilities not provided out-of-the-box. Here are a few examples:

        a. There are three or four products (UniMerge for example) that turn
FrameMaker into a powerful database publishing engine.

        b. IXGen provides a number of enhancements for index generation and
related functions.

        c. Quadralay Webworks Publisher is an excellent HTML conversion tool
that is far superior to the one that comes with FrameMaker.

        d. BlueBerry's Filtrix product has an excellent set of filters for
bi-directional conversions between FrameMaker and other formats.

        e. Omni System's MIF2RTF filter product provides an excellent
conversion from FrameMaker to RTF.

Complaints about FrameMaker's Word-to-Frame filter are well-justified. The
filter is worthless. Get the Filtrix product described above, and most of
your conversion problems will go away.

Dan Emory
Dan Emory & Associates
FrameMaker/FrameMaker+SGML Document Design
and Database Publishing Specialists

Voice/Fax: 949-722-8971
E-Mail: danemory@primenet.com
10044 Adams Ave. #208
Huntington Beach, CA 92646

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