Hi Joel

In my opinion, there are ways you could use several unstructured Frame
features to eliminate some of the repetitiveness and cumbersome maintenance.
XML is a fabulous choice if there is enough work and other applications to
justify doing the development for it. I don't know enough about your
environment to speak to that.

Depending on what is being reused and where it is found in the content, you
could use a combination of:

conditional text (I personally look very carefully at conditions to keep
them from being too cumbersome)
book files
cross references
text insets
breaking files up differently to reuse specific portions

I would need more information about the actual text to say how I would
approach this.

Although I believe XML rocks as an approach, there is a lot that can be done
with unstructured FrameMaker...that happens to be my specialty since my
clients haven't been interested in moving to XML because of the initial
learning curve and costs nor have the company business models indicated
there were be enough payback on the investment to warrant it.

There are, as always, tradeoffs to choosing one approach over the other and
each project must be evaluated using a variety of factors.

You're welcome to write me offlist if you like so we can look at your
situation individually.


On Wed, Mar 11, 2009 at 7:36 AM, Joel <eleysium at gmail.com> wrote:

> I am using Frame 8. I have a set of seven manuals that are close to 100
> pages each. Many sections of these manuals are identical, some sections
> differ in detail in minor ways, and fewer sections differ in more
> substantial ways. Currently they are all Frame books with each chapter
> being
> its own file within the book. There is no re-use of anything at the moment.
> This is becoming increasingly burdensome to maintain, as a change to
> something that appears in all seven manuals requires me to make that change
> manually in all seven files. I would like to get to re-use, or
> single-sourcing, but I?m puzzled as to how to get there. Would the best
> strategy be:
> (a) To use conditional text and generate several versions;
> (b) To try and convert everything to XML and sew things together based on
> individual XML files;
> (c) Something else?
> I have zero XML knowledge, and whenever I read about it, my head hurts. I
> am
> willing to learn, but the benefit needs to be commensurate with the pain
> involved in learning. I?m looking for the simplest solution that allows for
> some common source material using my existing Frame configuration. Ideas
> are
> appreciated.
> Joel

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