The Great Word vs. Frame Debate: Teaching the Old Dogs New Tricks Boulder Writers Alliance, 1/23/07
Tonight’s Goal • It is not really Word vs. Frame, it is Word AND Frame. • Most people have Word. Some have Frame. Few only have Frame. • Ya can’t work in computers and not have Microsoft Word (or its equivalent) in 2007.
Is the Most Famous the Best? • Word’s ubiquity does not make it the BEST product, only one that must be befriended. Frame’s scarcity does not make it the worst product, only one that has to be learned as if you were on a desert island…
A Common Situation • You have been hired by a hot new startup, Desert Island Software. • YOU are the new Documentation Department. • Your crotchety boss, who hates documentation, has hired you because: • a) he knows your friend's aunt from church, and • b) his board told him he had to have a doc person • He said you have the budget to buy ONE documentation tool: Microsoft Word or Adobe FrameMaker. Which tool do you buy and why?
Frame’s Strengths • It really allows you to process documents. (You can create documents that have conditional text, for example; they act one way for one reason, but then with a couple of commands you can get them to act a different way.) • It can create Books, not just a series of files. You can easily create Table of Contents and Indices across files with Frame. • You can get into a file’s Underwear Drawer – you can create a .mif file that shows you much of the underpinnings of a Frame doc. A .mif file is a pure text version of the Frame doc. If you like command lines, a .mif file is for you.
Frame’s Weaknesses • It is difficult to learn and more difficult to teach how to dance. (It has a STEEP learning curve. It is a document processing tool for professional writers, not a word processing tool for humans.) • You have to work at generating a quick doc in Frame. (You have to make 3 decisions before you get to a blank page; Word opens with one.) • The last major overhaul of Frame (7.0) was many years ago; there have been updates since then, but they don’t address some of the niggly little things that most 2007 software does. “Dinosourish interface”.
Word’s Strengths • You can just start typing. (It has an almost flat learning curve.) • Everyone uses it. (My kids have used it for homework since they were in 4th grade.) • It is much, much easier to use than Frame. (The short and Full menus option is just one example of ease of use.) • It has the Outlining feature. (This has long been my favorite feature of Word, and one few people use.) • It allows you to customize menus. • You can easily create TOCs per doc, both in Outlining and in the text, if only to keep track of what is going on – in that document.
Word’s Weaknesses • It cannot create TOCs and Indices across files, no matter what anyone claims. (‘Master Documents’ does not really work.) • I generally think Word maxes out at 1 mg files and 500 pages. I have created bigger files than those, but I have had smaller ones that crashed, too. • It has a numbering bug that bothers me a lot sometimes. A lot. • Bookmarks in PDF do not retain the autonumbering in headings.
Why You Might Buy Word Here are some tricks that I like, and people from BWA have recommended:
Use the F4 Key (Ctrl-Y) Explanation • Repeat your previous action. Use this tool ALL THE TIME. Example • Change the font size from 12 to 11 point. Select another item, press F4.
Format Painter This tool copies the formatting from one selected item and allows you to paste only the formatting onto another selected item. Example • 1. Select a bolded, italicized item. • 2. Click on the Format Painter tool. • 3. Select the item you want to copy the format to.
Paste Special Allows you paste other elements besides the entire copied element into Word. Ideal for copying and pasting material from the Web. Example • 1. Copy a paragraph from a Web page. • 2. In Word, choose File->Paste Special • 3. Scroll to Unformatted Text, click OK.
Customize Toolbars Create a custom Word toolbar that contains the commands you use most often. Example • My custom toolbar contains commands like “Format Painter” and “Para Keep with Next”.
Unlimited Undo Word allows multiple undos – not only can you undo the last command you tried, but back until the last save. • Example • If you bold a paragraph, then center it, then add a sentence before it, you can undo back to the bolding. More efficiently, you can copy the new sentence, then undo all the way to the bolding (Undo does not undo copying) then paste the new sentence.
Outlining • Word has four view modes: Normal, Web layout, Print, and Outline. You can look at your document from any of these views and it does not change the content. • Example • If you use the built-in heading styles, you can display the entire doc hierarchically. • See example.
Previous Docs • “Recently used files”. Go to Tools/Options/General and expand this number to 9 (the max)
Previous Edit/Para Keep with Next Add the Previous Edit/Para Keep with Next/Go To TOC button to your custom toolbar: • 1. Click on the Down Arrow next to a Toolbar. • 2. Choose Add or Remove Buttons. • 3. Click “Customize”. • 4. Find the command either by choosing the menu or choosing “All Commands” from the Categories button. • 5. Click and drag the command to the menu you want. • 6. Click “keyboard” to add keyboard shortcuts.
Why You Might Buy Frame Here are some tricks that I like, and people from BWA have recommended:
Reference Graphics • Ease of inserting references to graphics files. • This are not pasted in, but referenced…so if you change the graphic, Frame figures out all by itself that there is a new version.
Lists • Generating lists. For example, Imported Graphics, Fonts used • Frame is much more list-friendly, more Entire Book-Friendly. TOCs, Indexes across files are separate files and much easier to maintain.
Compatibility w/ PDFs • Bookmarks in PDF retain the autonumbering in headings.
Conditional Text • Frame allows for true single sourcing. • Ability to hide all my graphics so I can build HTML help from the same source files, but without pictures.
Linda G’s Frame Class • Note that Linda Gallagher will be teaching an intro Frame class at Metro State this spring. • I'll be teaching a FrameMaker course at Metropolitan State College of Denver this Spring. This is a hands-on course where you'll get to learn FrameMaker and create a project with it for credit. • What: COM 390I Designing Documentation with Adobe FrameMaker • 2 credit hours, $305. • No Credit $200 (space available) • When: Fridays, March 9-April 20 (March 23rd off for spring break) • 8:30am-12:45pm
How to Get Help • Ask on the BWA site • I seriously doubt you invented a problem no one has encountered before. Sorry.
Discussion Notes from Mary H. Word Pros: • Detailed Track Changes feature facilitates collaborative writingand editing (including the ability to globally or selectively acceptor reject suggested changes) • Extensive table manipulation capabilities, including Convert Textto Table and Convert Table to Text • Recordable macros • Document password protection (query: does Frame have password protection?) • Integration with other application software, such as Excel and PowerPoint Frame Pros: • Much better localization feature (easily supports characters setsfrom other languages) • Much better internal drawing tools (can use to do sophisticated graphics)
Discussion Notes: from Donna M. Frame strengths: • Localization feature very useful • Good line drawing tool Word strengths: • Can lock styles so users are limited to only certain styles. • Can create an Edit style that lets text you edit stand out. For example, blue font, italics, outdented. • You can sort on a style to locate just that style. • Don't use auto numbering or auto list, but instead us the REF field plus a macro for numbering. If you send docs to another user and they disable macros, the doc will still look like you intended. Check out: www.wordannoyances.com, www.woodyslounge.com