I think it depends on what you're doing and with how many people.

If you're all by yourself, and you only need PDF and one type of help 
output...I don't really think there is a reason to go to structured authoring. 
It's perfectly possible for you to handle all of it yourself. (I've been doing 
it for 4.5 years)

If you're working with a group of writers, it's harder to enforce that X is 
always bold and Y is always phrased like so. Text insets become painful to 
manage. I think with structured authoring, it's easier to enforce a similar 
style across multiple authors. (i.e. If you don't manage your content as 
defined, you can't produce anything.)

I also think if you're going to have multiple, similar outputs, structured 
authoring where you re-use bits becomes more important. Yes, you might be able 
to handle it with conditional text and text insets...but it can get crazy 
really fast. Cross-references do not play happily with conditional text and 
text insets in FrameMaker.

I just left my position as a sole writer where I had everything under control 
with text insets and some conditional stuff and some framescripts. I really 
wanted to learn about XML and structured authoring...and I felt there was zero 
reason for me to attempt to switch in my situation. I had a method that worked. 
To move to structured authoring, I would have had to a) thrown out everything I 
had accomplished and b) taught myself without any hope of training a new, 
complex method. It wasn't worth my time or energy.

I just started at a new position in a company that's moving from Unstructured 
Frame to an XML/Structured Authoring solution. Here, it makes sense that 
they're making the switch. Documents need to be standardized, XML is cheaper to 
translate than Frame Files (I think? That's the rumor I heard. I could be 
wrong. :-) Here, I'll have a bunch of other writers to work with as we make the 
switch, and, we're actually going to get training! (yay!)

YMMV,

Zo?






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