I’m often asked for advice on whether to start authoring in Adobe FrameMaker or directly in Adobe RoboHelp, or use both products for single sourcing.
Considering the tight integration between these two products in Adobe Technical Communication Suite 2, and the unique strengths both of these products have, I always recommend starting in Adobe FrameMaker and then linking the FrameMaker source files in Adobe RoboHelp for generating Online output.
Here are my top 5 reasons for why I make this recommendation:
- FrameMaker gives you the most pristine Print and PDF output
Whether you need to provide printed documentation to your customers, or at the very least include a printable version of your Help in PDF format, FrameMaker will give you the most pristine Print and PDF output. This is one reason it makes sense to author in FrameMaker first, publish to Print and/or PDF, and then link the source files in RoboHelp in order to generate other Online formats supported by RoboHelp, including AIRHelp.
Here’s more information on how you can Add Printability to Help in Adobe RoboHelp 8 using a PDF file
- FrameMaker 9 enables you to conduct Shared PDF Reviews and import the comments back into the FrameMaker source files
At some point in the future, RoboHelp might have a similar workflow, but for now, FrameMaker makes it extremely easy to conduct Shared PDF Reviews, where Reviewers only need the free PDF Reader to provide feedback and the aggregated feedback can then be imported back into the FrameMaker source files. This is another reasons to first start in FrameMaker, conduct your documentation review, and then link the source files in RoboHelp for online publishing.
For more information on this workflow, you can view the recording of a recent eSeminar I hosted on this very topic.
- With FrameMaker you can leverage the benefits of “Structured” Authoring
FrameMaker provides two main authoring environments in a single product, namely unstructured and structured authoring. The benefits of authoring in “structured” mode are many, including the ability to enforce authoring rules; a simple guided-authoring environment for authors; context-sensitive formatting; one template for multiple document types; real-time structure validation and more. This is another reasons to first start in FrameMaker, take advantage of a structured authoring workflow, and then link the source files in RoboHelp for online publishing.
To learn more about the benefits of Structured authoring in FrameMaker, you can view this recording.
- FrameMaker 9 users can leverage SDL’s AuthorAssistant at no cost
We have a partnership with SDL, where our Adobe FrameMaker 9 customers get AuthorAssistant at no cost. AuthorAssistant automates many of the quality-checking processes that normally require human resources, such as the use of consistent terminology, style and linguistic checks.
Click Here to learn more about how AuthorAssistant works with FrameMaker 9 and to download your copy.
- FrameMaker provides full DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture) support
Finally, if you are migrating to the DITA standard and need a DITA-friendly authoring tool, there’s no better product than FrameMaker 9. FrameMaker has full support for DITA authoring, and generating Print and PDF is built-in, which means no manual coding or using XSL-FO is required for generating Print or PDF output.
To learn more about how to dynamically link FrameMaker files in RoboHelp using the Adobe Technical Communication Suite, I have posted two recordings on this topic HERE.
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