… or Some Reasons Why I Hate FrameMaker.

Ever since I’ve been working full-time, I’ve occasionally had to use Desktop Publishing tools in my day-job. I can’t say I like any piece of software that I’ve used. This is most likely because I’m not a technical writer and don’t have to deal with extremely large documents of that nature on a day-to-day basis.

Long ago, we used Interleaf on Sun and SGI Unix boxes. Around five years ago, we transitioned to Adobe’s FrameMaker 5, which was an improvement over Interleaf. Most folks used FM through Unix still, but others were able to get Windows PC copies of the software (I was one of those people). About 3 years ago, we transitioned to FrameMaker 7, with most people using their PCs now.

I don’t know – I guess it’s like any piece of software that has a long multi-platform history like this – but there are quirks that I just can never get used to. Taken each by itself, there’s no real major cause for griping, but combined together – well, they caused me to waste 20 minutes writing this blog post.

  1. Mousewheel does not scroll the document
  2. The Graphics tool is not dockable
  3. Deleting a page is not Undo-able
  4. Configuration is in a variety of locations (File > Preferences, View > Options, Format > Document > Text Options). For better or worse, the Windows standard for this nowadays is a big ol’ dialog box at Tools > Options (even Firefox capitulated and moved Netscape’s Edit > Preferences in their Windows version)

Now don’t get me wrong, FrameMaker is a powerful piece of software that put some “personal publishing” tools to shame, but you really have to know what you’re doing to get at these features – and most of the time I do not know what I’m doing. Most of the time, I just need to add a section, update some text, or draw a diagram, so these little UI “quirks” can get to me. I also end up having to fix Unresolved Cross-References that others have broken. I usually end up wishing the document was maintained in Microsoft Word…

Anybody use Scribus? Cross-platform, yet written in C++ but with Python scripting… sounds nice. Does it handle very large documents? Maybe I’ll have to go check it out.

§354 · April 4, 2007 · Adobe, Software, Technology · · [Print]

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