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FrameMakers for Dummies review, and hi


I am Sean, I've been Framing on and off since '92ish--Windows now, but Mac
and UNIX in the past. This is my first visit to this listserv. So, hello. I
have three things:

This is an interesting month for FrameMaker.

1. FrameMaker 5.5.6 Linux Beta. Pass the word. And, if you checkout the
link, ask yourself how many international date lines there are ;?).


2. Also, FrameMaker 5.5.6 for Dummies is at http://www.amazon.com. I
recommend it as a good stocking stuffer for basic and intermediate level
Framers. I am continuously amazed at how few third-party books there are for
our favourite writing tool . . ..

3. I reviewed FrameMaker 5.5.6 for Dummies, cos I immediately bought (2)
copies, one a gift, and read it cover to cover. Reading my review now, and
with a friendly prod or two, I see I forgot to note a few things I observed
(like equation editor), but, here's my thoughts on the Dummies book:

Well done! FrameMaker 5.5.6 is a solid, must-have book for beginner and
intermediate FrameMaker users. I continue to be surprised at the lack of
third-party books for this popular tool for writers, and this book is long
overdue. Kudos to IDG and Ms. O'Keefe for putting this book together.

Even after reading the book, cover-to-cover, FrameMaker for Dummies still
strikes me as an oxymoron? Why? Because, if you compare FrameMaker to word
processors, as people are apt to do, FrameMaker has a high learning curve
(not so compared to real competing products, such as Interleaf and Ventura),
such that folks using FrameMaker are definitely not Dummies.

What doesn't this book do well? Let me offer my negative opinions, to get
them out of the way. This book is not a substitute for Adobe's valuable
FrameMaker Classroom in a Book. Dummies is definitely a reference tome, if
you really want to get up and running, I recommend the tutorial-based
Classroom in a Book *as well as* Dummies. Dummies might not be for you if
you are an advanced or very experienced FrameMaker user (although, the
appendices are worth a look-see and I recommend that it is still a handy
reference), but neither is the book targeted at you (nor is there *any* book
targeted at the advanced FrameMaker user, aside from Adobe's collage of
printed and online information). Despite the fact that this *is* a reference
book, I was still looking for, and missing, an overall flow from page setup
through styles and chapter and book creation and maybe was looking for a
little smoother organization and transition, from subject to subject and
chapter to chapter. I'm probably being way too picky here, because this is a
reference book.

In addition, the chapter on importing graphics misses a few things, such as
resizing imported graphics in FrameMaker and FrameMaker's treatment of
import resolution. A chapter on color, while a welcome and necessary
subject, doesn't discuss how the Windows GDI affects color output from the
Windows version of FrameMaker and, I think I missed a discussion of using
TIFFs and EPS to sneak 4-color past Mr. Gates. I also missed a discussion of
FrameMaker's hypertext feature, and was looking for a really clear
discussion of getting and installing the PPD and PS printer driver for use
with PDFs, *although*, this book does include all the relevant information
in one place, unlike any of Adobe's documentation. I suppose I was looking
for a clearer explanation of PPD/PS drivers, particularly for the benefit of
folks using TrueType, not PostScript, fonts. A brief discussion of
subsetting fonts in PDF and binary versus ASCII might have been included,
but perhaps that's a topic for PDF for Dummies? I would also have enjoyed
more discussion on MIF, an overview of the Frame Development Kit and what it
offers, and I am surprised Esc Flk was not highlighted and double-underlined
(I know I saw it in there but cannot, now, find it).

Please consider my critique in context: FrameMaker is a complex product with
a host of bleeding-edge features. A Dummies book cannot possibly cover,
in-depth, everything and still keep its target audience interested . . .
it's just not possible.

What does this book do well? Pretty much *everything*. FrameMaker for
Dummies certainly hits on all of the important concepts, tools, and elements
that you'd use in FrameMaker to get the job done. In particular, the
excellent section on numbering will answer all of your questions,
master/reference /body pages, page layouts, character and paragraph styles,
cross-references, and index are all well done--index particularly so (TOC is
covered pretty well, though I'm not sure the book will really get you going
on this if you have no prior experience with it). Text flow is well covered,
and the coverage of HTML export and import filters is great (and answers a
lot of commonly asked questions). The discussion of conditional text, a
feature I like to use, is complete and useful. Ms. O'Keefe also does a very
good job in leading the discussion of FrameMaker templates (a bunch of
customized templates for the CD would have been sweet), and includes some
very useful discussion on workflow that is obviously based on having been
there and done that!

Especially valuable in this book is the discussion of building blocks, the
tips and tricks are on-the-money, Appendix B's list of resources is
excellent, and the tools included on the CD are top notch (hey, the CD even
includes a demo version of FrameMaker--on the internet I see requests for
that all the time). More than that, the comments by the author, the asides
that touch on workflow issues and FrameMaker peculiarities, along with the
writing style, really help you get information out of this book.

All in all, if you use FrameMaker, you should get this book. If you are an
advanced user, this is a handy reference to have. If you are a beginner or
intermediate, FrameMaker for Dummies is an invaluable tool, store this book
close by your keyboard for ease-of-use. Now, if only Ms. O'Keefe can show
IDG the error of their ways and persuade them to convert to FrameMaker as
their primary production tool . . ..

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