We are two technical writers writing and managing software technical documentation.
Currently we are looking for a new content management tool which proves to be more structured, streamlined, bug-free and Microsoft Word-free than our current solution (AuthorIT).
Our needs are quite simple:
1) We need to create and publish online (HTML) Help and PDF files regularly. When writing, we should be able to share one another's files (topics, books).
2) We need to prepare both the English and German outputs so we need a localization-friendly tool/solution.
3) We need to transfer our big legacy content (about 6000 norm pages when published into DOC or PDF files) from our current tool into a new tool with as little effort as possible.
Is FrameMaker ticking all these check boxes? Is it able to satisfy these simple workflow requirements?
I can see that Adobe offers "FrameMaker+DITA" or "XML Documentation for Adobe Experience Manager" as a potential solution. I cannot quite see the difference or benefits of each of those solutions. Can anybody direct me the best way for me?
Thank a lot,
Hi Martin, FrameMaker certainly does tick all the boxes, and is a popular tool for those needing to localize.
Every package out there (including Fm and Author-it) has its fans and detractors. Your DOC/DOCX files will likely go quickly into any system, but also likely need to be worked somewhat to take advantage of that platform's specific features.
The real differentiator isn't Fm v. Word v. Author-it, but is structured v. unstructured.
I did an example last year, where the same file produced about 13,000 unstructured lines of code to localize, whereas the structured version of the same file was about 75. Unstructured content simply contains formatting baggage which must be waded through to get to the actual content.
You mentioned DITA and Adobe Experience Manager (AEM). DITA is an open standard that was the structure model I used in the previous example. FrameMaker has a DITA connector to AEM, but AEM is a content management system that can also automatically do machine translation and produce digital versions of your content (PDF, HTML5, etc.).
AEM cost scales rapidly with feature implementation. Large orgs are more likely to implement and benefit greatly from it, as AEM is not inexpensive.
I'm happy to help you with a discussion regarding implementation and localization. You can also get started evaluating FrameMaker for free by downloading a 30-day license at Download FrameMaker
Once you install and open FrameMaker, you'll have an opportunity to take a free online training course by clicking the appropriate button in the lower right corner.
Thank you for your fast and insightful reply.
I'm already having the FrameMaker trial and going through the online course training.
Still, I would like to ask you for help you with a discussion regarding implementation and localization.
For example, I have already successfully imported our Word/doc into FM but just into one "topic" / document. I need to import it or arrange it in such the way so that each chapter is represented by an individual topic. Also, we have a couple of concrete questions regarding our wf transfer into FM so a short pre-sale technical online meeting with some demonstration would be the best. Is there an official way we can proceed with this? Or what Adobe process should we follow to get this short pre-sale personalized demo?
Just FYI: Currently there is just two of us to test the FM workflow but if we are satisfied, the whole USU Software company (www.usu.de) is ready to invest a lot into a FrameMaker (and related) solutions. Maybe the AEM can become our main building block in the years ahead but we need to be sure it is worth it.
Please let me know what to do next to implement FM workflow ASAP. We are kind of in a hurry because now we have time for the switch which may not be availabe in the second half of this year.
just to make sure there is no misunderstanding: Matt is not an Adobe employee, and this is a pure user-to-user forum (while we folks from Adobe tune in on a regular basis as well).
One of my colleagues from sales will contact you asap (if he has not done already) and organize a personalized pre-sales demo with you. From what you wrote about the process you are trying (import Word Doc into FM), it might not be the best way to proceed, if you want to migrate to XML and DITA. There are multiple other ways to automate this (e.g. you can just drag & drop Word Documents into AEM and migrate them automatically to DITA). There are also convenient solutions to migrate long Word Documents to DITA and split the whole monolithic Word document into individual topics and automatically collect them in a DITAMAP.
OK, great ! Thank you for your positive reply, actually you really made my day since I was getting a bit sceptical about the possibility of our content seamless transfer.
In the meantime, I have also (maybe unnecessarily now) asked for the demo in the official way. But we don't need the usual "marketing demo", you know. We need to see a concrete solutions of our key problems which I'm summarizing again:
1) Key decision factor: As I already wrote above, we need to transfer our big legacy content (about 6000 norm pages when published into DOC or PDF files) from our current tool into a new tool with as little effort as possible. We would like to see a demo of import of part of out content (we can provide doc, html or xml of a single short book) and the amout of manual post-import work necessary in FM. Now that I know that it is possible to migrate long Word Documents to DITA and split the whole monolithic Word document into individual topics and automatically collect them in a DITAMAP, I'm very keen on seeing this part of demo!
2) We need to create and publish online (HTML) Help and PDF files regularly. When writing, we should be able to share one another's files (topics, books).
3) We need to prepare both the English and German outputs so we would like to see the FM localization workflow.
That is all. 🙂
Looking forward to meeting your pre-sale colleague,
I also agree that FM could serve your needs very well. One caution, though... I keep hearing talk of "splitting content into topics," but I have not heard any justification for that effort. If you don't have a compelling need to reuse content at the topic level, that sounds like a big exercise for the sole purpose of making things harder. So, I would be cautious before diving straight into the DITA mindset of topic-based authoring. If all it gives you is the joy of putting everything back together again, all you have done is worked hard to degrade the authoring experience.
Without a doubt, structured content is the right way. But there are limitless wrong ways to structure your content and DITA could be one of them. I don't know that to be a fact in your situation... just wanted to point out the possibility.
One more thing... being in a hurry is a good way to invite failure. Or at the very least, it leaves you vulnerable to get gee-whizzed by fancy jargon and such. I would strongly recommend a methodical approach that is developed in parallel with your current workflow. You don't need to flick a switch one day and everything is converted. You can do it bit by bit, learning what works best for you along the way.