Part 10: Reasons to upgrade from FM 7.x to FM 10: The world has changed in 10 years, and so should your content

This concludes our 10-part series of blogs on persuasive reasons why you should take this brief opportunity to upgrade from FrameMaker 7.x to FrameMaker 10 at a substantial discount. If you are using FrameMaker 7.x, you are used to a terrific product. The only problem is that the core code is at least 10 years old, and times (and customer needs) have changed greatly. If the world weren’t changing as rapidly as it is, you could probably produce decent results of some kind from FrameMaker 7.x ten years from now. But we all know that ePubs, YouTube and eBooks have changed our world forever. So the time to upgrade to the right product is now: this month, this week, today.

How far we’ve come in 10 years

As we covered in “Where were you in 2002?” we all now face pressures to produce more types of content, more quickly, from the same source files for a wider variety of consumers on a huge variety of screens, as well as PDF and paper. We all know that “hand held” devices like smartphones will rapidly grow thinner, cheaper, more powerful and more affordable.

smart watch
As an extreme example of where we may be headed in terms of content delivery, this week I found an intriguing news post on Twitter. A group of investors are raising funds (very swiftly) to produce an eInk “wrist watch” that would be capable of displaying smart phone notifications (and who knows what else) on the face of the watch. As the illustration to the right reveals, this product prototype has plenty of eye-appeal. You can read the article here: “$3.5 Million “SmartWatch” Breaks Funding Records”.

How far we will go with “document display” in the next 18 months

We’ve also recently seen prototypes of thin, fabric-like eInk displays that could one-day become part of our clothing. We may soon witness the day when a surgeon can see critical data display on his or her sleeve during surgery. (If it were cardiac surgery, you may say he was “wearing his heart on his sleeve”.) For another glimpse as to just how quickly our notion of a “document” or “display” may change, view the video “A Day Made of Glass 2: Same Day. Expanded Corning Vision” Prototypes for most of what is shown in this video already exists. The main “take away” from this video is not the exciting new uses of “intelligent glass,” but how much more the “I want it now” attitude of our customers will increase in the near future.

To capture and retain customers in this new era of flexible information retrieval, you need to have content that is “intelligent”, thoughtfully structured, and created or edited in an authoring solution that is highly accessible to a wide range of team members. Screens riddled with DITA element codes may not prove to be the swiftest way to create such data. And this is exactly where FrameMaker 10 provides a superior solution. Incidentally, this is also one of the reasons you are particularly lucky (through June 15th) if you use FrameMaker 7.0, FrameMaker 7.1 or FrameMaker 7.2.

How FrameMaker 7.5 users have an “advantage”

The message of “The Wizard of Oz” was that after an extensive journey through strange lands with singing lions and flying monkeys, Dorothy discovered that everything she needed was right in her own backyard. Ironically, a lot of what she saw in the Emerald City was an Art Deco version of those Corning “intelligent glass” screens.

Well, guess what? If you’re using FrameMaker 7.5, your one step away from one of the most flexible solutions you can find for transforming your legacy data into nimble, structured topic-based authoring that will have you ready for those ubiquitous glass screens seen in the Corning video mentioned earlier.

Conversion messae
Incidentally, binary FrameMaker 7.x documents will open up directly in FrameMaker 10. You will get a simple warning (shown to the right) indicating that you are opening an earlier version, and you may want to rename and preserve the original. Some additional steps may be required for certain structured “XML” files, but basically, you can get your legacy FM 7.x documents into FM 10 in a matter of minutes.

In our previous blog we made reference to a number of “how to” videos by Tom Aldous that cover nearly every step required to craft a structured application for DITA in FrameMaker 10. You will probably need some training, consulting or assistance, but not nearly as much as would be required with most competitive DITA editors.

How a FrameMaker “weakness” proved to be a strength

When structured editing was introduced in FrameMaker 7.x, some detractors considered it a product “deficiency” that FrameMaker would dare to also allow you to create regular “unstructured” documents as well as highly constrained, structured documents based on XML. The conventional wisdom of ten years ago was that you were not supposed to see anything resembling final output (e.g. WYSIWYG page display) while editing structure.

Over time, this criticism has softened greatly as many industry professionals have realized the huge advantage that FrameMaker 10 has: while you are editing “real DITA” you can actually tell how much content you’ve created for PDF or paper. Ironically, the creation of style sheets that control PDF output is one of the most labor-intensive (and expensive) processes involved in many XML editors that do not have FrameMaker’s WYSIWYG user interface.

Why is this an advantage?

Because of all those glass screens in our near-future; we are going to have to create more topic-based content, more quickly, with fewer errors. And in many cases, we’ll need to know approximately how much content we’ve created while we are authoring. Today, FrameMaker 10 has the best solution for giving you dynamic feedback (not an approximate preview) of exactly how much content you have created.

Summary of some significant FrameMaker 10 capabilities

Our blog series has touched on most major areas of FrameMaker 10 improvements, but here are the highlights:

Upgrading from FM7.x to FM10: an easy decision to justify

There is a very simple way to justify your upgrade to FrameMaker 10 by proving ROI. Simply download a trial copy, view the series of videos mentioned in earlier blogs. Also, open up some of your legacy FM7.x documents that need some housekeeping in FrameMaker 10, and use the new tools to manage your catalogs and locate format overrides. If you document the time saved and multiply that time by the 1,000s of times that you perform some actions throughout the year, you’ll discover that the upgrade price will soon pay for itself.

Welcome to the world of FrameMaker 10. We eagerly look forward to your comments, feedback and suggestions once you’re working with the latest and greatest version of FrameMaker.

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