Jeremy, I don't think that is harsh at all. What I think is harsh is the 
constant discouragement from learning and professional development from certain 
members of this list.  It is so important for any tech writer to learn about 
structured content, and I do not think I am any smarter than anyone else just 
because I have expertise in structure. The only difference with me is that I 
just spent the last five years being interested in it, and I would like others 
to be interested in it as well. And that excuse about "not having time" is 
really quite worn out. If you work in the tech industry and don't have time to 
learn, your fate is sealed.

And by the way, HTML is a perfect example of fully structured content, and the 
web is a good example of the miracles that are possible with it. Thanks for 
bringing that up.

Message: 29
Date: Wed, 14 Feb 2007 17:46:00 -0800
From: "Jeremy H. Griffith" <>
Subject: Re: Reasons to Structure
To: framers at
Message-ID: <2ib7t2p94cn4i7lv0j116s5svf7bhpld1u at>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1

On Wed, 14 Feb 2007 04:56:49 -0700, russ at 

>Jeremy Griffith wrote [referring to semantic markup]:
>>You can do the same with paragraph formats, too.  But you can
>>do all that in UNstructured docs just as easily as in structured.
>>Maybe *more* easily, when you factor in the time to set up your
>>structure, and to modify it when you make changes, which is major.  
>>I've only been able to identify one situation in which structured 
>>Frame can do this better than unstructured, and that's when you'd 
>>want nested element tags within a paragraph, since you cam't nest 
>>character formats.  (There are easy workarounds for creating the 
>>equivalent of nested paragraph formats, such as using start/end 
>>formats and/or markers.)  OTOH, I have yet to see a non-hypothetical 
>>case where such nested char formats were really needed...
>>Structured Frame is designed for large pubs groups where standard
>>document designs are required, perhaps for ISO 9000, perhaps for
>>other corporate policy reasons.  For smaller groups, and especially
>>for lone writers, the setup costs (time and consultants) are likely
>>to exceed the benefits, much like a CMS (Content Management System)
>>can.  There are excellent consultants around, many on this list,
>>for whom it is a breeze.  If you decide to go this way, hire one.
>>It will prevent much anguish and hair loss.

>This is misinformation, on nearly all counts. 

Isn't that a tad harsh, Russ?  My point, which you appear to have 
missed, is that (as Richard said) semantic markup is good, *and*
that you can do it in unstructured Frame.  Do you deny this fact?

I also said that for small groups, "the setup costs (time and 
consultants) are likely to exceed the benefits".  I'll stand by
that assessment, based on using Frame in both its unstructured 
*and* structured (formerly known as "FrameBuilder") forms over
many, many years, originally on a Sun 2...  I didn't say there
are *no* benefits, just that the costs may be greater.  Do you
assert that the costs are always insignificant, then?

>I am a lone writer who is completely dependent on structured Frame. 
>Without it, I would need at least twice the manpower to handle the 
>busywork that it does. Furthermore, I adhere to no industry standard 
>and make changes to my structured template frequently. 

All well and good... but what *else* are you?  An expert in
structure, perhaps?  How long have you worked with structure?
As I said, "There are excellent consultants around, many on 
this list, for whom it is a breeze."  You are one of the four 
or five I'd think of first...  Here's the first line on your
home page: "Welcome to West Street Consulting, your home for 
structured FrameMaker? plugins and other utilities."  I've
also written plugins that work with structured Frame (Mif2Go
does, just fine), but I hardly consider myself a representative
Frame user... nor would I assume that everyone would have as
easy a time as I do.  Do you say it's easy for everyone?

>Granted, the setup costs for me are minimal now, because I 
>have the skill set.  

My point exactly.  That's why I said "hire a consultant".
Do you think consultants are unnecessary?  <vbg>

>But that is the whole point of these occasional rants... you 
>just have to get in there and learn, because that's when it 
>becomes a breeze. 

Assuming, that is, that you *have* the time.  Many of our
colleagues, having survived downsizing from ten writers to
two with no decrease of workload, do not.  And if you do,
is that time better spent on learning nifty new tools, or
on improving the docs you're paid to write?  One size does
*not* fit all.  If you have a genuine *business* case for
going to structured Frame (or if you are a hacker at heart, 
like you and I), go for it.  ;-)

>Of course it takes time to ramp up, but when it is so 
>obviously the way of the future, ...

This makes me feel old.  <g>  Well, I *am* old... old
enough to remember any number of "obvious" advances that
went nowhere.  The future has many ways... most of which
we won't recognize until we get there.  Here's a little
related snippet from [XML-DEV] today:

> [Michael Chanpion:] On the other hand, this is more or less 
> the story of CORBA ? lots of time and money spent on something 
> that has vastly underperformed relative to its initial hype.

> [Elliotte Rusty Harold:] Exactly, and that's hardly the only 
> example of lots of corporate money being fed into the shredder.

That's in the current "More predictions to mull over" thread...

>Two final points...
>- I'll retract much of what I said if you can provide a single 
>recent example of anything groundbreaking in the area of techcomm 
>that specifically involved unstructured content.

The Web?  You don't consider HTML an example of structured
content, do you?  It qualifies in only the most technical 
sense... and most pages violate even its simple DTDs grossly.
Or maybe it's not recent enough for you?

>- Always beware of the typewriter salesman when you are reading 
>the computer brochure.

You consider me a "typewriter salesman"???  LOL!  It's
true that when I was first a pubs manager, we did our
output (for power-plant manuals) on IBM Model C's, but
then the Selectric came out.  I also worked with MTST
and MTSC systems, wrote the first screen-oriented editor
for CP/M (and the first Z-80 symbolic debugger), wrote 
software for the first "affordable" ($9,995) dedicated 
word processor, and did typesetting on an XDS-940 mainframe
driving a Mergenthaler V-I-P photocomposer.  I've always
been on the bleeding edge of tech publications... not
the trailing edge.

However, more to the point, unlike the typewriter salesman
I make *nothing* when people stay with unstructured Frame.
You, OTOH, make your living from people who go structured.
Perhaps it's the *computer* salesman you need to watch?  ;-)

-- Jeremy H. Griffith, at Omni Systems Inc.
 <jeremy at>

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