I generally have to agree with what is written below, but I have to take a 
minor exception on (a) regarding 'the line that you can do it with DITA or 
DocBook'. Out of the box does a good job, but unfortunately the 'good job' is 
at scaring people away. That being said, I'll have a freebie of a pretty good 
DITA lite template with documentation and more for the world at large in a week 
or so. I'm literally waiting on a few scripts, a test and some docs and then 
it's ready. Sure I've needed some updates to the software and I'm pushing Frame 
in directions it doesn't normally like to go, but in the end I'll have 
something that works in 7.2 and does 99% in 7.1 as well.

It's going to be distributed via my website and updates will continue to be 
rolled out. It does use some inexpensive third party software and is a subset, 
but it's pretty solid.

The exception I have is that you need to consider what you are willing to adapt 
in your content as well. Just because it has 'always been written that way' 
doesn't mean you have to stick with it. Sometimes it's worth sacrificing or 
changing things to save time/money on your deliverable. If you can manage to 
use a DITA standard then you are in luck later when changes are needed or third 
party tools have to be invoked.

I'm off to a client site, but I'll post more info on the DITA lite template set 

I'll happily offer to provide an online venue where I can show it in use if 
people are interested. Email off list if you would like to have me present a 
'how to use the template' session in a live online video presentation. If so 
I'll email you more info and, if there seems to be enough interest (say over 20 
emails to me) I'll send a quick note to the list.


Bernard Aschwanden
Publishing Technologies Expert
Publishing Smarter

bernard at publishingsmarter.com 


-----Original Message-----
From: framers-bounces+bernard=publishingsmarter.com at lists.frameusers.com 
[mailto:framers-bounces+bernard=publishingsmarter....@lists.frameusers.com] On 
Behalf Of Marcus Carr
Sent: Tuesday, January 31, 2006 6:12 PM
To: framers at lists.frameusers.com
Subject: RE: "Real Life" Migration to Structured Doc

Dominick A. DeFlorio wrote:

> We must move to structure to meet our future XML goal, but are 
> unfamiliar with both the transition and method to do so.  We are also 
> unfamiliar with the possibilities and cost involved. We are merely 
> looking at all of the possibilities and the long term value for our 
> dollar.

Here's how I'd do it:

a) Design the structure - if you aren't experienced, don't do it yourself and 
don't buy the line that you can do it with DITA or DocBook. 
Get a professional to do proper analysis and design, including documentation 
about how to use the DTD or schema. This is a critical step - don't scrimp here.

b) Save all of your data out of FrameMaker as XML - don't use FrameMaker as a 
migration tool because if your structure evolves based on infrequent cases, 
you'll end up spending too much time trying to re-baseline your dataset.

c) Use XSLT to convert from XML to your target structure - if you find that you 
need to make changes, make them and re-run the whole dataset, so you can be 
certain that all documents are consistently handled. Get help with this if 
you're not experienced, otherwise you'll get in a mess. Be prepared to also 
make changes to the data manually - the alternative is to loosen the structure 
in the DTD or schema, but that's a last resort. Make the data consistent, and 
be ruthless about it. While you're at it, learn not to be scared to work with 
native XML - angle brackets don't bite.

d) Build the FrameMaker application - concentrate your own efforts on the part 
of the process that you're most familiar with and learn the parts that will 
give you the most benefit.

e) Train your users - give them as little information about XML as you can get 
away with. All they need to know is that there's a mechanism in the background 
that ensures that the documents are structured consistently with the rest of 
the dataset.

Items a) and c) will cost you money, but it's well spent. Do it properly from 
the start and you'll only do it once - try to do it on the cheap and you can 
spend the money next time around. I've seen it more times than I could count in 
the 15 years that I've been involved with SGML and XML conversions. Plenty of 
very bright people have tried to migrate to structure on the cheap - so many 
smart faces, so much egg.


Marcus Carr                      email:  mcarr at allette.com.au
Allette Systems (Australia)      www:    http://www.allette.com.au
"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."
        - Einstein

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