Hi Peter,
 I sent an email to Art and received a very good reply which I think answers
all of my questions (I have pasted them in the lower section of this email.)
 My original reason for asking about InDesign as a replacement for
Framemaker was that I have been asked by a new manager to dispose of
Framemaker and transfer all writing tasks, 700 page User Guides, and various
other docs to InDesign. The problem I am worried about is that we use a lot
of cross references throughout the chapters and books and have a large
fairly comprehensive Index. I also use conditional text to output several
versions of the same doc. Can this be done in InDesign? And what about
generating a help system for InDesign, is it possible?

I believe that Art answered all of these questions, but feel free to make
any other comments or suggestions.

Thanks for the help
Mulholand

Here are Art's comments:
<< I've moved books & files from FM to InDesign CS3, and unless there's
something else going on that the manager didn't share with you or you
didn't present in your email, this is going to be a Bad Idea of large
tarbaby proportions...

InDesign is great for short docs, or even books, that require a lot of
individual formatting and exceptions to the base template or master
pages. It was designed as a PageMaker replacement, and it fulfills
that role very nicely. It's a nice program.

Frame was designed to handle large books, multiple documents, and doc
sets that basically use the same type or set of page layouts in order
to produce a uniform look and feel. Essentially the 700 page User
Guide scenario that you present.

You can do the conversion (maybe -- depends on the input) by using a
third party plug in, or by writing out FM files as RTF and importing
them into ID. And you're unlikely to be able to bring in graphics
transparently.

But you're going to lose lots of functionality that's going to be made
up by vastly increasing man hours. You mentioned a few: conditional
text, inter-book cross refs, decent indexing, especially indexing that
spans books or volumes, and the ability to go to online help. Some of
this may have changed since I last had to do this about 6 months ago,
but it'd only change because a third party brought out a better ID
plug in. Which would cost money and be another company to deal with
for support and updates and integration.

Unless you guys have money and manpower to burn, I'd try to find out
the reasoning behind the proposed switch before you try to
implement.... There's a chance that the manager is way behind the
times and still listening to the FM is dead rumors... which were bogus
a few years or so ago and are more so now. FM is Adobe's XML editor
choice, and they're pouring resources into it.

>From what you've mentioned, implementing the Tech Comm Suite would be
a better solution than ID. >>

Fin

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