Thanks everyone for all your responses. I've been away, so I missed the last
few responses.

Some updates:  I should have mentioned that the original docs are in Word,
not Frame, so that kind of conversion is not applicable in this case, but
the information provided is good to know for future reference.
I should also mention that the doc set is two versions of a user doc (mostly
identical, differences easily handled by conditional text, one <short>
chapter is completely different between the two, handled by books) that runs
about 70-75 pages in Word, and a quick start guide (about 10 pages). Child's
play!

The client is still determined that the priority is (1) open source, (2)
Mac, (3) Framemaker on Mac.

I didn't realize that OpenOffice Writer did conditional text. I found an
article that compared it pretty favourable with Framemaker
(http://www.linux.com/archive/feature/39406), but it was written in 2004. I
didn't find much (anything) more recent. Why is that? It seems so promising
based on the article. Has anyone out there actually used Writer for user
docs?

My colleague, who will be the one working on this project, was playing
around with Writer, and sees that it's obviously not on a par with
Framemaker, but it will probably suffice for this client if that's their
insistence. Scribus does text insets, but not conditional text. I had
planned that the document set would use both features, but if we really have
to use either Scribus or Writer, then conditional text is more important. We
can work around the text inset requirement.

Laurie



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
You also mentioned wanting an open source tool. As Peter said, there's no
open
source replacement for FrameMaker with all of its features. However, I think
that OpenOffice Writer is remarkably good and has many advanced features. It
does not have text inset features, but it does have conditional text and
variables, but not on par with FrameMaker. For basic PDF publishing of long
technical documents, OpenOffice Writer is far superior to Word and
comparable
with FrameMaker.


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