Ooops! I just caught a typo, an omission that reverses the meaning.
It's embedded in the body below, marked with *************

>Thanks Peter!

You're welcome.

> i'll take some time to go over this carefully, but this will be a great help 
> to me!
> cheers
> Mulholland

On Mon, Sep 15, 2008 at 4:32 PM, Peter Gold <peter at> wrote:
On Mon, Sep 15, 2008 at 1:51 PM, mulholland4 <mulholland4 at> wrote:
> 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 reviewed the DTP Tools Cross-Reference plug-in for InDesign CS2 and
CS3 for InDesign Magazine around last December's issue. You'd have to
buy the issue to see the whole review, but very briefly: It's on par
with FM's cross-reference ability, and in some ways a little better.

There's also a free cross-reference script that creates
page-number-only references, and a commercial cross-reference tool
from Virginia Systems that I didn't test.

> I also use conditional text to output several
> versions of the same doc. Can this be done in InDesign?

ID CS3 has no conditional text, and I'm not aware of a third-party
tool that offers it. The usual workaround is to create the different
versions of content on different layers, and show or hide them as
needed. It's not a good solution for content, product, or audience
variations in a single language, because you really are maintaining
multiple copies of the common content, and have to be careful to avoid
introducing unwanted differences when editing. This is much the same
effort as maintaining one separate file for each version.

For multiple languages, where all content, or at least all text
content, is translated in each variation, layers can work. Text wrap
(FM's Text Runaround object property) is smart about working through
layers, so showing/hiding different language layers with careful
planning may simplify handling graphics in each language) and, BTW, ID
wraps text around all sides of an object if you want, not just three
sides as FM does.

However, another approach is to use ID's XML ability to filter
marked-up XML content. Mostly XML is being used with ID for
variable-data publishing, and other automated production.

There's no dedicated DITA support in ID.

> And what about
> generating a help system for InDesign, is it possible?

There's no tightly-bound partner for help from ID, though again its
XML export is one way to implement help coupled with other third-party
tools. RTF export may be another possibility. I haven't heard anyone
claim to be doing this. Yet.

> 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.

ID has running header/footer variables, user-defined variables, master
pages (even master pages based on other master pages), multiple
numbering streams (, and 1,A,ii,b, etc) for lists, figure
captions, etc, as FM has. Page and chapter numbering, footnotes, and
across-file numbering in books, are the same, but ID also can make
multi-page spreads with appropriate page numbers on left and right (or
on spreads of as many as ten pages) - FM can't. This isn't a common
need in technical docs, so it's not a biggie.

ID CS3 books are better than FM's in some ways, the same in some
others, and worse in a few others. ID book files are lists of files,
and instructions for processing them, like FM books. FM's cool feature
of showing filename or first paragraph content in the book list is a
good tool that ID lacks, but ID's Pages panel (like PageMaker's, if
you know PM) shows thumbnail views of the pages in the current file,
as well as identifying the master pages used on each page; you can
identify chapter-opener page thumbnails easily, which is mostly what
showing the first paragraph feature does. You can rearrange ID pages
by drag and drop (which isn't a good thing to do with one single long
text flow, but is useful for page-by-page layouts that need frequent

> 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.

I also reviewed the DTP Tools MIF Filter that converts FM MIF files to
ID for InDesign Magazine around March '08. Briefly, it's a good
converter, and you can try it free to see how it suits your needs. You
have to buy page credits - like phone-card minutes - to save or print
converted files, but you can hack away at the unsaved conversions to
convince yourself if it's suitable. It's great at creating
nearly-perfect carbon-copy duplications in ID of FM files, where ID
has the same features or can be made to fake them, but to do this it's
necessary to customize each thing that needs to be squeezed into ID.

The conversion retains hyperlinks, index markers, and footnotes
(except table footnotes - ID has none). If you've installed the DTP
Tools cross-references plug-in in your ID CS2 or CS3, FM
cross-references remain active, otherwise they're converted to text.

For example:

FM's inter-paragraph space works on "the bigger one wins" but ID's
inter-paragraph space is additive, like most other applications. ID
can't automatically straddle paragraphs across multi-column layouts,
has no true side headings, and lacks run-in paragraphs, so the MIF
Filter does the heavy lifting with ID's tools and constructs to
duplicate these effects - you'd need to do this stuff manually without
the converter.

If you need to edit and revise or add new content in the converted ID
version, anything that reflows the text across column, frame, or page
boundaries may upset the page-by-page accuracy of the conversion. If
you've used side headings, straddle headings, run-in headings, table
footnotes, and some other FM features, you'll need to pay attention to
them when content reflows.

ID indexing is about as good, but more complicated to do than FM. ID
TOCs offer more formatting control than FM. Tables are very versatile.

ID's load styles (ID's styles are FM's formats) import feature imports
styles across files and books; it offers conflict resolution -
incoming named styles (ID's term for formats) that match existing
names don't automatically replace the existing ones; there's a mapping
window to manage the process.

There are named styles for paragraphs, characters, numbered lists
(like the "F:" series identifiers in FM's autonumbers), text and
graphic containers, anchored frames (which are more advanced than
FM's), tables (like table formats), table cells, color swatches,
gradient shadings, strokes (outlines around shapes), and maybe I
forgot one or two others.

Find/Replace can find these named styles, and also find by GREP - a
smarter matching method than the usual text-plus-wildcard matching -
and you can save the queries for reuse.

Almost everything that has a style name can be shared by loading
(importing) from other ID document files, or by loading from saved
settings files.

Some things that FM (and lesser writing-tool) techwriters have learned
to get along without, that are in ID are:

full Unicode support, full OpenType support (very smart ligatures,
fractions, oldstyle numbering), baseline adjustment and separate
baseline grids for the document and text frames within it, layers,
actual bleed (objects can go past page edges for trimming after
printing), zoom from 5% to 4000%, multiple windows for the same
document, automatic real-time autosaving and recovery (every keystroke
and action is written to disk), INFINITE UNDO INFINITE UNDO INFINITE
UNDO, easy customizing of keystroke shortcuts, and nearly everything
(as in FM) can be keystroked, Illustrator-quality drawing tools,
ability to create buttons for interactivity in PDF, Photoshop-quality
transparency effects, fully scriptable in JavaScript for Mac/Windows,
AppleScript for Mac only, and Visual Basic for Windows only, and
life's too short to list the rest of what I can remember, which is not
all of it anyway.

The tools and features for pursuing typographic perfection are almost
limitless, and instead of being a manual-labor time-sink, the
composition engine automates most of it. You can set the composer to
compute justification and hyphenation, spacing, kerning, tracking,
etc. for an entire paragraph; this adjusts everything in the
paragraph, like a human typesetter would. Or, you can choose the
single-line composer, which is like almost all other applications; by
adjusting each line in a paragraph as a separate entity, it's likely

*********** begin correction*********
"it's likely"

should be

"it's unlikely"

***********end correction*********

to get so close to the evenness that typography addicts kill for,
without manual attention.

***********begin correction*********
To be clear - the paragraph composer smoothly adjusts space throughout
a whole paragraph, while the more-common single-line composer adjusts
space on each line independently of other lines in the paragraph.

***********end correction*********

Then, there's ID's huge world printing abilities, in color management,
pre-press tasks, pre-flighting that finds and reports problems that
can affect the professional printing phase of the project, and more
stuff that goes beyond FM's range, but which techwriters don't
typically need to be involved with..

You'll need to do some real-world testing with the ID tryout to see if
it's suitable for your requirements.

If you do go ahead with the testing, it would be great if you posted
your findings for the community to learn from your experience.

Even with the accurate conversion available for your legacy FM
documents, expect to spend a period of adjusting your workflow as well
as your habits, as with any major tool change.

> 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,

Keep in mind that on September 22, 2008, mere days away, Adobe will
officially announce CS4 products. It's not clear how much they'll
reveal about new features and abilities, but certainly there's got to
be something to tempt users to upgrade.

> 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

DISCLAIMER: I'm not connected to DTP Tools ( except as a
tool-crazy user.



Peter Gold
KnowHow ProServices

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