The FrameMaker is a writing and editing document processor from Adobe. The software is suitable when dealing with large and complex documents the kind mostly found in technical writing (Sandee 18). The software is a desktop publishing program that technical writers use the tool to produce manuals, technical documents, eBooks and other long documents. The FrameMaker has two modes of operation; the structured authoring tool mostly used when working with documents where consistency must be achieved. For example, technical writers in the pharmaceutical industry use the tool when communicating about products where translation and standardization are critical. The Unstructured authoring tool is the second mode of operation. It has no imposed structure and uses tagged paragraphs. The author sets their concept and topic organization.
The FrameMaker was initially created as a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor. This meant that document authors could manipulate materials to produce highly structured documents with ease. It was used for Sun/UNIX workstations and was ported to the Macintosh platform. Adobe stopped supporting FrameMaker for the Macintosh in 2004. It was later used on the Windows platform that continues up to date. The software technology was acquired by Adobe when they bought Frame Technology Corp in 1995. Adobe has developed different versions of the FrameMaker including version 5.5 in 1997 and version 6 in 2000. Others include version 8 in 2007, version 9 in 2009, version 10 in 2011, FrameMaker 11 in 2012 and FrameMaker 12 in 2014. The FrameMaker 2015 is the latest release and supports multimedia, anchored frames, equations and graphics with increased functionality. For example, it has sophisticated ability to import screen simulations and videos with stop and play marks within the video. Each of the versions is an improvement on the preceding one and introduces several or better features in its development and release to the market.
The FrameMaker was initially developed with a target market in mind which was the technical publishing market. For example, it was used for the publication of the highly technical maintenance manuals of the Boeing 777. When Frame technology ported the FrameMaker software to the Windows platform, it shifted the focus of the software from the professional market. The move drove the company almost to the verge of bankruptcy until Adobe Systems acquired the software and refocused it to target the professional market. The Adobe has not released a version that is compatible with the Mac OS X operating system that has limited its wide usage.The Adobe FrameMaker uses the markup language MIF (Maker Interchange Format) as its companion. The MIF represents the documents in a simple format which can be understood by humans as well as by other software systems. The Adobe FrameMaker has several competitors in the technical publishing market including InDesign, which supports Apple products. Other competitors include the Arbortext, Corel Ventura, and Interleaf.
Adobe FrameMaker differs significantly from Word Processor making the FrameMaker more suitable for large and complex work and the Word more suitable for smaller and less complicated documents. Some of the advantages of using the FrameMaker over the Word Processor includes the ability to manage documents. Word is focused on dealing with individual documents while the FrameMaker ‘s Book File Feature can tie all files allowing the user to work on them as a unit (Janet 125). Features such as chapter numbering, page numbering, updating document formats are automatic under the FrameMaker but manual in the Word Processor. Another advantage is that the FrameMaker’s architecture is very flexible and can easily support new formats such as HTML, XML PDF, and hardcopy. For example, Using FrameMaker converts all index entries in a source document as hypertext links and the user can convert a complete manual to PDF at the click of a single button. Another benefit of using the FrameMaker is the ease of controlling page layout. The FrameMaker uses master pages that facilitate change of layouts within a single document or across many documents simultaneously. FrameMaker offers other features such as the conditional text not present in the word, which allows many versions of the same document to be held within the same file.
FrameMaker also permits the rotation of pages with standard headers that are not possible when using Word (Adobe Systems Incorporated 4). Also, the FrameMaker gives the user more graph positioning options compared to Word processor. Another benefit that the FraeMaker has the Word is that it allows automatic printing of a whole book while in Word every chapter has to be selected manually. The FrameMaker supports the printing of rotated pages with standard headers as well as printing of lists in the document that Word does not support. Another advantage of using the FrameMaker is that it provides superior use of cross-referencing compared to Word processor. In the FrameMaker, cross-references in HTML and PDF documents automatically become hypertext links. Additionally, the FrameMaker informs the user when the reference is off for both cross-references as well as graphic files because of these warnings the user cannot produce a document with errors. Another benefit is that the FrameMaker allows the user to turn off images and amend the document without them. This increases the ease and the speed with which amendments are made.
The FrameMaker supports publishing for Online, Web Applications and CD-ROM that saves money because only one package is used. The tool also increases the user’s productivity and saves on time because features such as reports are used to manage lengthy publications more quickly and efficiently as compared to Word Processor. Another advantage that runs across the features of the FrameMaker is that it saves time when dealing with the creation of multivolume documents because of extensive automation. Another advantage is that long documents such as books are not subject to corruption because of their size unlike in word where corruption may occur. The tool also provides ease in long and many volumes document management because updating and management are automatic and not manual. For example, FrameMaker allows for the design of separate templates for tables and paragraphs which increases consistency. On the contrary, template creation in a word is limited and is mostly used for letter writing. Although none of the technical publishing software is perfect, each has some advantages and disadvantages when compared and contrasted with each other. Some of the features are present in both FrameMaker and Word processor but with increased functionality in one of them. For example, the equation editor is present in both but more robust in the FrameMaker. It is the responsibility of the end user to find the one they are comfortable using to accomplish their tasks.
Adobe Systems Incorporated. Feature Comparison Guide: FrameMaker (2015release) & Word 2012 for Technical Documentation.San Jose, CA: Adobe Press. 2015. Print.
Janet Underwood. Mastering the Basics (and more) of Adobe FrameMaker 10. Seattle: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. 2011. Print.
Sandee. Adobe FrameMaker 11 Classroom in a Book. San Jose, CA: Adobe Press. 2013. Print.