Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.
 

Re: [xml-doc] Life after FrameMaker+SGML

Expand Messages
  • Isaac Rabinovitch
    The XMLSpy Suite now includes a WYSIWYG editor. I haven t had a chance to evaluate it myself, but others in my group (we re making the Big XML Move) say it s
    Message 1 of 22 , Apr 5, 2002
      The XMLSpy Suite now includes a WYSIWYG editor. I haven't had a chance to
      evaluate it myself, but others in my group (we're making the Big XML Move)
      say it's pretty good. You can download a feature-complete time-limited
      version from their web site.

      About WordPerfect. Its SGML/XML support is said to be very good, but even
      though I have a copy of WP9, I can't actually say one way or the other.
      There's no proper documentation of these features, and they're just a little
      too complicated to be useful without good docs. As with a lot of Corel
      products, WP seems to be semi-abandonware -- something Corel bought up and
      sells cheaply, but doesn't have the resources to support properly.

      I've played with XMetal and was quite impressed. Unless the XMLSpy editor is
      really really good, it'd be my first choice for an editor. Though somebody
      more experienced than me might be bothered by its reliance on Internet
      Explorer, since that browser's stylesheet support is pretty spotty.

      If I may be permitted a highly subjective flame: I'm actually glad that a
      FM+SGML update isn't on the horizon. I've never cared for Frame in any form.
      It's mainly the user interface and the documentation -- frustrating examples
      of how *not* to do things.
    • Buss, Jason A
      I have been working as an SGML/XML developer for about 5 years now, in a technical publishing department that utilizes Arbortext s EPIC. I have also used
      Message 2 of 22 , Apr 5, 2002
        I have been working as an SGML/XML developer for about 5 years now, in a
        technical publishing department that utilizes Arbortext's EPIC.

        I have also used Frame+ on a limited basis, although I am getting ready to
        evaluate the next release to see if it's XML support has improved.

        I can tell you EPIC is about as good as you can get for an enterprise
        structured authoring system. It has it's own quirks, and a pretty steep
        learning curve for producing hard copy (uses the old FOSI milspec), but it
        is very robust, is much easier to build and implement custom DTDs with, and
        has probably the best, most comprehensive set of documentation available for
        an application out of the box (consider that is relative to the software
        industry, of course).

        I had originally shied away from Frame+ because of the proprietary file
        format that "imports and exports" structured markup. But a number of users
        have assured me that this actually works better than it sounds like it
        would.

        The other stinker is the fact that I HATE the way Adobe provides it's
        documentation. I have a copy of distiller and Photoshop, and I absolutely
        LOATHE using the help files. PDF is useful for a lot of things, but for
        help systems, it's just seems too cumbersome and disorganized to be
        effective.

        Just my $0.02

        -Jason A. Buss

        -----Original Message-----
        From: Isaac Rabinovitch [mailto:irabinovitch@...]
        Sent: Friday, April 05, 2002 8:44 AM
        To: xml-doc@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: Re: [xml-doc] Life after FrameMaker+SGML


        The XMLSpy Suite now includes a WYSIWYG editor. I haven't had a chance to
        evaluate it myself, but others in my group (we're making the Big XML Move)
        say it's pretty good. You can download a feature-complete time-limited
        version from their web site.

        About WordPerfect. Its SGML/XML support is said to be very good, but even
        though I have a copy of WP9, I can't actually say one way or the other.
        There's no proper documentation of these features, and they're just a little
        too complicated to be useful without good docs. As with a lot of Corel
        products, WP seems to be semi-abandonware -- something Corel bought up and
        sells cheaply, but doesn't have the resources to support properly.

        I've played with XMetal and was quite impressed. Unless the XMLSpy editor is
        really really good, it'd be my first choice for an editor. Though somebody
        more experienced than me might be bothered by its reliance on Internet
        Explorer, since that browser's stylesheet support is pretty spotty.

        If I may be permitted a highly subjective flame: I'm actually glad that a
        FM+SGML update isn't on the horizon. I've never cared for Frame in any form.
        It's mainly the user interface and the documentation -- frustrating examples
        of how *not* to do things.
      • Nicholas Atkinson
        Lurker piping up... I have experimented extensively with the XML support in Adobe InDesign 2 (on Windows). Though this was a commercial release and not a beta
        Message 3 of 22 , Apr 5, 2002
          Lurker piping up...


          I have experimented extensively with the XML support in Adobe InDesign 2 (on
          Windows).

          Though this was a commercial release and not a beta (i.e. we paid for it), I
          was suprised to find that the XML import/export capability came in a module
          which was not enabled by default and which was described as beta software.

          Some of what it can do with XML is interesting, however there are many
          limitations.

          One is that it has no understanding whatsoever of DTDs or schemas. So for
          example, if your document contains entities such as special characters (e.g.
          "™" ) , which have been declared somewhere in your DTD (and not in the
          internal document type declaration), the Import facility will not import the
          document at all because it cannot resolve the entity. In other words, you
          need to ensure your documents are "standalone".

          I also found that the import facility handled whitespace between elements in
          a way that I would not expect.

          Furthermore, though you can tag up text and frames as being of a certain tag
          (the names of which it can get from a sample document) there is no
          context-sensitivity or any kind of checking that what you're tagging up
          conforms to an internal DTD, external DTD or Schema. So the person doing
          the "tagging up" needs to know their DTD/schema off by heart.

          Finally, when you come to export as XML (if you need to do that), the XML
          that is produced is well-formed and standalone only. It does not contain
          entities for graphics or anything like that, nor will it have preserved the
          original document type declaration or any internally declared entities from
          a document you originally imported.

          So, it's interesting, but IMHO it clearly wasn't designed for a technical
          author using a DTD like DocBook, for example.

          Obviously the new FrameMaker may be a different story.

          nik

          ----- Original Message -----
          From: "Ed Nixon" <ed.nixon@...>
          To: <xml-doc@yahoogroups.com>; <xml-doc@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: 05 April 2002 14:08
          Subject: Re: [xml-doc] Life after FrameMaker+SGML


          > At 09:29 AM 05/04/2002 +0000, cdfjohnston wrote:
          > >Hi,
          > ><snip>
          > >However, we haven't been able to find a tool with as user-friendly an
          > >interface for working with the markup as FM+SGML.
          >
          > I'm just about to install an evaluation copy of version 2 of Adobe's
          > InDesign. It is touted as having XML support.
          >
          > Have you looked at it? If so, what did you find?
          >
          > Thanks. ...edN
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          > -------------------------------------------------------------------
          > Post a message: mailto:xml-doc@yahoogroups.com
          > Unsubscribe: mailto:xml-doc-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
          > Switch to digest: mailto:xml-doc-digest@yahoogroups.com
          > Put mail on hold: mailto:xml-doc-nomail@yahoogroups.com
          > Contact adminstrator: mailto:xml-doc-owner@yahoogroups.com
          > Make changes via Web: http://groups.yahoo.com/subscribe/xml-doc/
          > Read archived messages: http://groups.yahoo.com/messages/xml-doc/
          > -------------------------------------------------------------------
          >
          > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
          >
          >
        • Ed Nixon
          Great information and conforming to my fears; thanks! It appears it was a good decision on Adobe s part to leave the InDesign XML capability disabled; your
          Message 4 of 22 , Apr 5, 2002
            Great information and conforming to my fears; thanks!

            It appears it was a good decision on Adobe's part to leave the InDesign XML
            "capability" disabled; your evaluation suggests XML with InDesign would be
            more trouble than it's worth.

            I appreciate the feedback; you've save me time and flame suppression
            effort. Regards. ...edN

            At 04:17 PM 05/04/2002 +0100, Nicholas Atkinson wrote:
            >Lurker piping up...
            ><snip>
            >I have experimented extensively with the XML support in Adobe InDesign 2 (on
            >Windows).

            <!-- articulate and detailed assessment of problems removed -->
          • Charles Johnston
            Yeah, PDF Help is stunningly bad. It lacks the proactive irritation of Microsoft s horrible paper-clip, but for simple why-can t-I-find-what-I-want irritation,
            Message 5 of 22 , Apr 5, 2002
              Yeah, PDF Help is stunningly bad. It lacks the proactive irritation of
              Microsoft's horrible paper-clip, but for simple why-can't-I-find-what-I-want
              irritation, it's a winner!


              >From: "Buss, Jason A" <jabuss@...>
              >Reply-To: xml-doc@yahoogroups.com
              >To: "'xml-doc@yahoogroups.com'" <xml-doc@yahoogroups.com>
              >Subject: RE: [xml-doc] Life after FrameMaker+SGML
              >Date: Fri, 5 Apr 2002 09:10:22 -0600
              >
              >I have been working as an SGML/XML developer for about 5 years now, in a
              >technical publishing department that utilizes Arbortext's EPIC.
              >
              >I have also used Frame+ on a limited basis, although I am getting ready to
              >evaluate the next release to see if it's XML support has improved.
              >
              >I can tell you EPIC is about as good as you can get for an enterprise
              >structured authoring system. It has it's own quirks, and a pretty steep
              >learning curve for producing hard copy (uses the old FOSI milspec), but it
              >is very robust, is much easier to build and implement custom DTDs with, and
              >has probably the best, most comprehensive set of documentation available
              >for
              >an application out of the box (consider that is relative to the software
              >industry, of course).
              >
              >I had originally shied away from Frame+ because of the proprietary file
              >format that "imports and exports" structured markup. But a number of users
              >have assured me that this actually works better than it sounds like it
              >would.
              >
              >The other stinker is the fact that I HATE the way Adobe provides it's
              >documentation. I have a copy of distiller and Photoshop, and I absolutely
              >LOATHE using the help files. PDF is useful for a lot of things, but for
              >help systems, it's just seems too cumbersome and disorganized to be
              >effective.
              >
              >Just my $0.02
              >
              >-Jason A. Buss
              >
              >-----Original Message-----
              >From: Isaac Rabinovitch [mailto:irabinovitch@...]
              >Sent: Friday, April 05, 2002 8:44 AM
              >To: xml-doc@yahoogroups.com
              >Subject: Re: [xml-doc] Life after FrameMaker+SGML
              >
              >
              >The XMLSpy Suite now includes a WYSIWYG editor. I haven't had a chance to
              >evaluate it myself, but others in my group (we're making the Big XML Move)
              >say it's pretty good. You can download a feature-complete time-limited
              >version from their web site.
              >
              >About WordPerfect. Its SGML/XML support is said to be very good, but even
              >though I have a copy of WP9, I can't actually say one way or the other.
              >There's no proper documentation of these features, and they're just a
              >little
              >too complicated to be useful without good docs. As with a lot of Corel
              >products, WP seems to be semi-abandonware -- something Corel bought up and
              >sells cheaply, but doesn't have the resources to support properly.
              >
              >I've played with XMetal and was quite impressed. Unless the XMLSpy editor
              >is
              >really really good, it'd be my first choice for an editor. Though somebody
              >more experienced than me might be bothered by its reliance on Internet
              >Explorer, since that browser's stylesheet support is pretty spotty.
              >
              >If I may be permitted a highly subjective flame: I'm actually glad that a
              >FM+SGML update isn't on the horizon. I've never cared for Frame in any
              >form.
              >It's mainly the user interface and the documentation -- frustrating
              >examples
              >of how *not* to do things.
              >
              >
              >-------------------------------------------------------------------
              >Post a message: mailto:xml-doc@yahoogroups.com
              >Unsubscribe: mailto:xml-doc-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
              >Switch to digest: mailto:xml-doc-digest@yahoogroups.com
              >Put mail on hold: mailto:xml-doc-nomail@yahoogroups.com
              >Contact adminstrator: mailto:xml-doc-owner@yahoogroups.com
              >Make changes via Web: http://groups.yahoo.com/subscribe/xml-doc/
              >Read archived messages: http://groups.yahoo.com/messages/xml-doc/
              >-------------------------------------------------------------------
              >
              >Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
              >
              >




              Charles Johnston
              tel. +45 49 18 02 03


              _________________________________________________________________
              Send and receive Hotmail on your mobile device: http://mobile.msn.com
            • larry.kollar@arrisi.com
              ... at ... Frame handles the printing end very well. I ve heard of places that edit SGML in a variety of ways then import into Frame for printing. Granted,
              Message 6 of 22 , Apr 5, 2002
                Ed Nixon wrote:

                > My authoring / editing preferences are XMetaL and/or Word with the YAWC
                > add-in template. Once the XML source is there, I can go to HTML, XHTML,
                > HTML Help pretty easily. Getting to print, however, seems a major pain,
                at
                > least in these early days.

                Frame handles the printing end very well. I've heard of places that
                edit SGML in a variety of ways then import into Frame for printing.
                Granted, that doesn't help with XML.


                > Framemaker is one of those high-institution, high-support,
                high-commitment
                > tools that seem to find a home and stable life in organizations with an
                > extensive and deep rooted commitment to technical writing and publishing.

                > I'm an independent and more often run into more "rambunctious"
                > document(ation) situations where you have to be granular and, above all,
                > flexible.

                Interesting outlook. FrameMaker is highly competent at keeping large
                bodies of documentation afloat, and that's before you get into the
                +SGML part. IMO that becomes even *more* important in smaller (or
                reduced) documentation departments. The more you learn about Frame,
                and take advantage of its features, the less work it takes to keep
                up documentation.

                For example, I recently refactored a set of documentation (a manual
                and two quick-install sheets) to take advantage of text insets and
                conditional text. Now, I only have to change text one time and the
                changes propagate to all three documents.

                A "rambunctious" situation is going to be that way regardless of the
                tool you're using -- the situation is either amenable to structured
                editing or it isn't. If the situation calls for a non-structured
                approach, you can still use Frame as readily as Word without YAWC and
                still have the long-document advantages of Frame if needed. I'm not
                sure about native XML tools, although I suppose well-formed tag soup
                would work in that situation.

                If the situation is "write now, XML later," Frame+SGML 6.0 is still
                a good choice. Export the book to XML and go -- I've done this with
                manuals of 50 to 100 pages, and the XML cleans up pretty well when
                run through a short Perl script (assuming you start with a structured
                document!). This is probably going to be how we do things in the near
                future -- instead of creating print and PDF manuals, we'll create PDF
                and [XML -> XSLT -> HTML/whatever].

                What Frame 6 lacks now is a good way to *import* XML. Personally, I
                don't need it although I'm sure many others do. If Frame 7 doesn't
                have good import capability, there probably won't be a version 8.
                That would be sad, not only because Frame is the only cross-platform
                application in its league.

                --
                Larry Kollar, Senior Technical Writer, ARRIS
                "Content creators are the engine that drives
                value in the information life cycle."
                -- Barry Schaeffer, on XML-Doc
              • Ed Nixon
                ... Interesting is always such an interesting choice of words and goes so far to show how elastic language can be in the service of... exchange. Again, I
                Message 7 of 22 , Apr 5, 2002
                  At 11:34 AM 05/04/2002 -0500, you wrote:
                  > > I'm an independent and more often run into more "rambunctious"
                  > > document(ation) situations where you have to be granular and, above all,
                  > > flexible.
                  >
                  >Interesting outlook. FrameMaker is highly competent at keeping large
                  >bodies of documentation afloat, and that's before you get into the
                  >+SGML part.

                  "Interesting" is always such an interesting choice of words and goes so far
                  to show how elastic language can be in the service of... exchange.

                  Again, I apologize for being less than clear. The notion of being
                  independent and getting into rambunctious situations has nothing directly
                  to do with the functionality of Framemaker, which I have to assume is a
                  wonderful piece of software given the ardent support it elicits every time
                  it comes up in a discussion. Independence and rambunctiousness here imply
                  that the folks I work with/for are having trouble just thinking that the
                  written word is worth taking any trouble over and, in addition, that the
                  notion of being systematic, either in writing or the processes of
                  publishing, is so far out of perceptual range that a tool like Framemaker
                  is just beyond the ken. The issues I run into, in addition to poor grammar,
                  spelling and organization, have mainly to do with things like the proper
                  use of named styles or styles of any sort to tell me what they think is
                  important and to what extent. Etc. Under these conditions, XML is simply a
                  method of self-defense that gives me the personal latitude to absorb
                  multiple uncertainties on the human and human-relations side of the
                  projects, i.e., turn on a dime and go with the output flow.

                  I wish it weren't so and I envy those of you who are "getting into"
                  structured editing and publishing via XML in an organized and
                  organizational way. Believe it or not, you occupy a privileged place in the
                  document world, in my experience. Go for it. And, yes, I will keep my eyes
                  open for the new Frame+XML and perhaps save my (individually) hard earned
                  pennies to put against the, no doubt, hefty purchase price.

                  weekend! good! ...edN
                • Jelks Cabaniss
                  ... Well-formed tag soup -- great description of new paradigm . :) /Jelks
                  Message 8 of 22 , Apr 6, 2002
                    larry.kollar@... wrote:

                    > I'm not sure about native XML tools, although I suppose
                    > well-formed tag soup would work in that situation.

                    Well-formed tag soup -- great description of "new paradigm". :)


                    /Jelks
                  • larry.kollar@arrisi.com
                    ... all, ... Framemaker ... Aha... I assumed by rambunctious you meant that the project goals moved around a lot. I ve seen this happen when the marketroids
                    Message 9 of 22 , Apr 8, 2002
                      Ed Nixon wrote:

                      > > > I'm an independent and more often run into more "rambunctious"
                      > > > document(ation) situations where you have to be granular and, above
                      all,
                      > > > flexible.

                      > ... Independence and rambunctiousness here imply
                      > that the folks I work with/for are having trouble just thinking that the

                      > written word is worth taking any trouble over and, in addition, that the

                      > notion of being systematic, either in writing or the processes of
                      > publishing, is so far out of perceptual range that a tool like
                      Framemaker
                      > is just beyond the ken.

                      Aha... I assumed by "rambunctious" you meant that the
                      project goals moved around a lot. I've seen this happen
                      when the marketroids want new development to meet a
                      potential (large) customer's needs -- next week, that
                      prospect has withered and a new one (with a different
                      set of demands) takes its place. The writer ends up
                      chasing a constantly moving target, trying to pry info
                      out of an increasingly frustrated development staff.

                      A granular approach is about the only way to deal with
                      a situation like that; you can easily drop last week's
                      features (but keep the file in case Marketing wants it
                      put back in next week). XML combined with some kind
                      of source control is (I expect) very good in a situation
                      like this, because you can "back out" changes without
                      losing them when you need them later.


                      The situation you describe, I'd call "ignorant" instead of
                      "rambunctious." I haven't seen many of those from the
                      inside, since they tend to assume "anyone can write" and
                      pay accordingly. What's more common is a nagging feeling
                      among the client's staff that the documentation really *is*
                      important, but they have no clue how to go about making
                      it better. The upshot is the same -- they don't understand
                      why you need a systematic approach -- but they also
                      assume you know what needs to be done and let you do it. :-)

                      --
                      Larry Kollar, Senior Technical Writer, ARRIS
                      "Content creators are the engine that drives
                      value in the information life cycle."
                      -- Barry Schaeffer, on XML-Doc
                    • Ed Nixon
                      ... ignorant becomes rambunctious during and subsequent to the first advisory committee meeting; the speed of becoming is directly related to committee
                      Message 10 of 22 , Apr 8, 2002
                        At 09:22 AM 08/04/2002 -0400, larry.kollar@... wrote:
                        ><snip>
                        >The situation you describe, I'd call "ignorant" instead of
                        >"rambunctious."

                        "ignorant" becomes "rambunctious" during and subsequent to the first
                        "advisory" committee meeting; the speed of becoming is directly related to
                        committee size and number of org units represented. The situation I have in
                        mind is driven by a committee of 16 purporting to represent virtually all
                        of a government administration; things happened pretty quickly.

                        ...edN
                      • David Cramer
                        They ve announced frame 7.0 btw., http://www.adobe.com/products/framemaker/pdfs/nfh.pdf Glancing at the features list, I notice they ve updated their version
                        Message 11 of 22 , Apr 8, 2002
                          They've announced frame 7.0 btw.,
                          http://www.adobe.com/products/framemaker/pdfs/nfh.pdf

                          Glancing at the features list, I notice they've updated their version of
                          docbook from 2.x at least:
                          "Three sample applications for structured authoring are integrated into
                          FrameMaker 7.0: DocBook 4.1, xDocBook 4.1.2, and XHTML. DocBook 4.1 and
                          xDocBook 4.1.2 conform fully to the industry-standard DocBook (SGML) and
                          xDocBook (XML) DTDs for technical documentation."

                          Wonder if it will be possible to convert variants and future versions of
                          Docbook into their 'EDD' format. It appears to have been impossible with
                          Frame+SGML.

                          David
                        Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.