Monday, January 5, 2004

Adobe’s Graveyard

PageMaker finally is dead, and FrameMaker, though not dead, seems to be even closer than usual. The latest version isn’t very impressive and doesn’t run on Macs. Thankfully, FrameMaker, which has always been reliable, still works in Classic with the same old redraw bugs and ancient interface.

The reason I care about FrameMaker is not so much that I like it, as that I like what it can do. Though there are several alternatives on Windows, I know of no equivalent Mac programs. Number one on my list of FrameMaker likes is that it can create PDFs with clickable links, bookmarks, and other meta-data. Microsoft Word is probably the closest tool to FrameMaker on the Mac, but, unlike its Windows counterpart, it cannot create these rich PDFs. As a result, some of TidBITS’s new Take Control eBooks are created using Word on Windows; the rest have their PDF richness added by hand.

Panther improved Preview by leaps and bounds, which is especially fortunate given the state of Adobe Reader (see also MDJ 2003.12.31). But there is much more to be done. On the viewing side, Preview can’t handle PDF forms or select text in columns. On the creation side, Mac OS X makes it easy to create PDFs—but lowest common denominator ones. Save a Web page with Safari, and all the links die.

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peter boardman

Yes, it looks like FrameMaker is moribund. Since I make some of my living with it - and have no intention of re-locating to Windows - I have mixed feelings about this...

It does seem odd for Adobe to leave FrameMaker on Mac to die, just as Macs have started moving into new markets with their Unix solidity and just as corporate users are increasingly looking for alternatives to Windows!

PDF copies of MDJ/MWJ are made with InDesign on a Mac. They include clickable links, both intra-document and HTTP. Are there PDF features than InDesign can't accomodate?

Not that I know of; in fact, InDesign probably makes better PDFs than FrameMaker. So, yes it's possible to create good PDFs from a Mac OS X-native app.

But, unless things have drastically changed with InDesign CS (I haven't tried it since 2.0, and I don't see a CS demo), it doesn't really target FrameMaker users. It looks like each version adds more of FrameMaker's structure and long-document features, but that it still has a ways to go. And, from what I can tell, you still need third-party plug-ins to do footnotes and equations, and even then they aren't as well integrated as with FrameMaker.

... plus AFAIK InDesign lacks FrameMaker's SGML interface and I doubt that it will get it anytime soon.

I was lumping that into the "structure" category. :-)

FrameMaker has made quite a few improvements with 7.1 but in comparison with the upgrades in InDesign CS they are mild. Adobe is definitely working on making InDesign the hottest item. Evidence the Adobe homepage for several weeks.

Adobe has now posted the InDesign CS tryout.

MacMinute says that FrameMaker for Mac will be discontinued on April 21.

Late followup: don't forget that Adobe killed SuperPaint.

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