Part 1 of blog series on reasons to upgrade from FrameMaker 7.x to FrameMaker 10

A sizable group of FrameMaker users are still using FrameMaker 7.x (7.0, 7.1 or 7.2). These versions were released in 2002, 2003 and 2005 respectively. Obviously the product has changed substantially in 7 to 10 years. It is a testament to how far ahead of its time version 7 was for those still using it. There are numerous reasons why some users may have postponed upgrading. This is the first in a series of blogs that will touch on some of the more compelling reasons to upgrade from older versions of FrameMaker to version 10, which has been available since 2011.

One new feature in the current UI that is particularly useful is the ability to display previously hidden document data (e.g. index markers, cross references, graphic insets) in pop-up pods.

The following sections touch on just a few of the advantages we will be covering more in depth with this series of blogs.

(1) Easier user interface

The current release of FrameMaker has a completely redesigned user interface that is more inline with other Adobe products. Although it takes a day or two for some long-time veterans to adjust to the new UI, it is much easier for new, non-FrameMaker users to grasp. This is an important consideration if your company merges with a division that has been using Microsoft Word, or some other product that has a more “familiar” user interface to the general public. Long-term FrameMaker users will find many time-saving improvements in the new UI as well.

My observation has been that with new users, training time and ramp up time on mastering workspaces is substantially shorter than with the old user interface. Watch for a blog that will focus on many aspects of this one benefit.

(2) Improved catalogs and style management

Beyond the user interface, one major convenience is improved paragraph, character and table catalogs that have improved housekeeping tools. The screen capture below has a red circle that highlights the pre-FrameMaker 9 method of viewing available table styles in a “catalog.” Only a temporary pull-down menu within the Table Designer could reveal the styles to choose from. FrameMaker 10 has a dedicated Table catalog and a number of housekeeping tools for identifying styles in use. More information to come in future blogs.

Table Catalog circled in FrameMaker 7.2

Table Catalog circled in FrameMaker 7.2

(3) Rich multimedia support

The current release of FrameMaker 10 supports a wide array of rich media formats, including Flash, various video and 3-D graphics formats. Once such a graphic is imported into FrameMaker, it becomes an interactive experience for the user in derived PDF. SWF files from Captivate can create a “movie” within an anchored frame that can replace a dozen sequential screen captures.

(4) True, native XML support in DITA, S1000D and XML

Earlier versions of FrameMaker supported “structured documents.” But, such documents had to have a *.fm suffix, and were essentially a proprietary FrameMaker binary format with powerful EDD rules, etc., embedded in the file. Whenever the user wished to share “real” XML, he/she had to “save as” XML. Watch for a future blog that will cover the many pitfalls that have been eliminated by new, cleaner methods used in FrameMaker 10.

(5) PDF review workflow

The current release of FrameMaker allows you to save PDF for review that can be annotated by reviewers using free Acrobat Reader. Once the review cycle is complete, the actual annotations can be imported “in place” in the source FrameMaker document. If you are using Tech Comm Suite, you can employ a collaborative review cycle in which various reviewers annotate the same PDF review file on a server, or “in the cloud.”

Too many benefits to list

Other benefits to be covered in this blog series will include multi-user track changes, support in DITA/XML for processing instructions which can invoke transformative XSLT style sheets, Unicode support and the ability to swiftly output content to ePub format via Tech Comm Suite.

Watch closely for this numbered series of blogs appearing daily for the next few days. You will gain a fuller understanding of how much time and money you can save by upgrading to FrameMaker 10.

More reasons listed in subsequent blogs:

See the second reason for upgrading in our blog “Part (2) Reasons to upgrade from FM 7.x to FM 10: Workspaces and a Friendlier UI.”

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