Hi, Laura:

At 3:08 PM -0400 5/18/06, Laura_J_Kirk at bd.com wrote:
>I'm not familiar with versions of FM help prior to vers. 7, which I am
>using. That, I can agree wholeheartedly, sucks.
>As a self-taught FM user, it takes hours, literally hours to figure out
>some new operation or feature in Framemaker. Operations/features, I might
>add, that were pretty much intuitive in Pagemaker or Quark. If you're
>going to have a user-hostile interface, at least have some decent
>documentation. Most of the hours I spend trying to figure things out are
>spent searching forums on the Web.

I've been an independent FrameMaker trainer and user since FrameMaker 2.x.

If you mean by "intuitive," "everything I used to know falls into 
place in new environments," then there's no surprise that you're 
disappointed in finding that your PageMaker and QuarkXPress skills 
and experience don't fit right into FrameMaker.

I've found that usually "intuitive" means "familiar." Yes, 
FrameMaker's interface is different from other tools. However, if you 
cruise the InDesign forums, and probably Apple's Pages forums, and 
perhaps MS's Publisher's, and Ventura Publisher's, you'd probably 
find the same new-user frustrations voiced by those who are having 
"culture clash" when they first encounter the new tools.

FrameMaker's features and operations are highly consistent, so what 
you do learn in one area usually helps you pick up speed as you enter 
new areas.

If you total the number of hours you've spent independently searching 
for solutions and multiply them by your average hourly pay, you'll 
have something concrete to help you compare to the cost of training 
you might have taken.

>However, doing decent documentation costs money. Adobe obviously has saved
>a lot of money here. I feel as if, if I'm ever going to reach any level of
>proficiency with this program, it's going to mean going to a training
>class. Now, that's great for independent trainers, not so great for me,
>since I'll have to pay for something that IMHO shouldn't be needed. You
>should perhaps need training to be a "power user" ... not to just figure
>out how to perform common operations.

One of the key misunderstandings about FrameMaker and other 
publishing tools in its class (yes there are a few), is that they 
combine the skill sets that used to be performed by as many as six or 
seven separate professionals into the one job description of 
"technical author." If you list all the tasks that you've faced as a 
technical author so far, and those that you expect to face, you'll 
probably see that nearly everything on the long list is within 
FrameMaker's capabilities. In my view, the job is what's hard and not 
necessarily intuitive; FrameMaker is just the tool that you use to do 
the job.

In addition to Adobe's FrameMaker documentation, the Classroom In A 
Book is a useful learning tool (though there are some errors that can 
"throw" you off), and FrameMaker 7: The Complete Reference, are among 
supplementary learning resources you can use on your own. You'll find 
a bunch in a Google search or two.

>Deja Moo: The feeling that you've heard this bull before.

This is how I usually feel about criticisms of something for being 
"non-intuitive," when it's really "not familiar."

Peter Gold
KnowHow ProServices
Adobe Certified Expert
FrameMaker - Acrobat - InDesign

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