FrameMaker – Is and will remain to be …

Past few months have been busy.

On one side, I have been meeting FrameMaker users and enthusiasts, and on the other, I have been working with FrameMaker engineering. The most important question is; how can we make sure that FrameMaker continues to be the tool of choice for you? How do we make sure that FrameMaker evolves with time and helps you take benefit from emerging trends and standards? The DITA application pack was one such project designed to help our users adopt the emerging standards.

Over the last few months I met many FrameMaker users, consultants, plugin developers and trainers. It was a very pleasant experience. FrameMaker is like an inseparable part of their work lives. They love using FrameMaker and they love talking about it and providing valuable inputs and suggestions on making it better. What features to add to FrameMaker. What bugs to fix at the earliest. What are the limitations of conditional text. How important is multilingual authoring. The list goes on …

Most importantly, they were relieved to know that FrameMaker would be there for years to come, and it would become better with each release. I have noticed discussions on some blogs and mailing lists regarding the future of FrameMaker. Let me assure you, as the Product Manager of FrameMaker, that FrameMaker is here to stay. We would do what it takes to keep FrameMaker at the leading edge of technology.

All the valuable suggestions that I have received from you play an important role in laying down the product roadmap. I have already met many of you and I would like to meet more of you to learn from your experiences. Please send a message to aseem(at)adobe(dot)com to schedule a meeting. I am also planning to be at the WritersUA annual conference at Long Beach, and the STC annual conference at Minneapolis, where we can meet in person.

Thank you for your time.

Aseem Dokania, Product Manager – FrameMaker

Comments for this post have been switched off. Please send your comments to aseem at adobe dot com.

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Posts from multiple members of the Adobe TechComm team.

34 thoughts to “FrameMaker – Is and will remain to be …”

  1. Many of us Mac users are not “stuck” using a Mac — we use Unix/Linux tools that the Mac also runs and runs nicely.FrameMaker’s return to OS X would be something that would make my life a lot easier. I’ve been trying to use LaTeX again, and want to scream. Word? Not even close. InDesign? Not the right tool, either!Yes, Windows dominates in other locations, but I’m a 38-year old university research rat. I use Linux and OS X for a reason: my tools work on those platforms. Well, my tools excluding FrameMaker.Sure, I could use VMWare, but does Frame run in XP x64? My Mac doesn’t have 32-bit Windows and won’t.Add my vote, loud and clear, for an OS X, universal binary, port. Save me from another LaTeX weekend.

  2. I assume there are a big number of Mac users on this blog and in my opinion, this does not represent the real number of Frame-users.Nevertheless, we are running FrameMaker on Windows and also the full CS2-Suite.We don’t have problems with security holes or experience any blue-screen. So I can not understand why people still stick to the Macs. Having said that, I’m sure people will not like me for that, but today I don’t care if Photoshop or InDesign is run on PC or Mac. But I must agree the Macs look and feel better!Like others, I also can’t understand and believe that the market for Solaris should be larger than the one for Mac.I’m sorry for the Mac guys, but I personally don’t wont resources spent for a Mac version. I rather want the features of the Windows-version improved/extended. I know, it’s selfish, but that’s life…We publish in 47 languages (inclusive Russian, Chinese, Hebrew, Arabic and Japanese) and the full support of Unicode would be appreciated. It also would be nice, if there were dictionaries in more languages available. Another topic is Arabic, where Frame shows bullets of a list still on the left side even text direction is from the right to left. Also the colour management of Frame is a joke, I had to invest another 500$ for an PDF-Tool to convert the mess and with every publication we have a lot of manual work.If there is a crash of FrameMaker it also would be nice to have an understandable message…To rank my requirements:1. Colour management2. Right to left fonts3. Unicode4. Optimize Menu’s (or event better redesign the GUI)5. Better and more dictionaries (a usable hyphenation)Aseem, if you have the chance to come to Switzerland on your European-trip and would like to visit an manufacturing company working heavily with FrameMaker 7.2, please be our guest. We have more than 20 technical editors on a central publication system and work with a shared German / English environment, which makes life even more difficult.

  3. Good Day,I see the value in FrameMaker with being a multi-platform composition and publishing package… without MacOSX, composing and publishing is severely restricted.My sincerest hope is that there will be a re-consideration of sync’ing a release of FrameMaker for WIndows, Solaris, and MacOSX.Updating FrameMaker to bundle the latest version of Adobe Acrobat would be nice, instead of being a release behind.Thank You

  4. I would like to add my voice to the Framemaker for OS X throng. I do a lot of authoring for the applications we develop at work. Framemaker has been suggested as the ‘format’ for writing these docs, over both Word and LaTeX (too restrictive and too complex, respectively) but the main resistance here is that FrameMaker isn’t cross-platform, whereas those other solutions are. It takes a lot for our organisation to purchase commercial software (we opt for open-source / freeware where possible), and I have every conviction that FrameMaker will not be purchased due to its lack of by-in from the vocal and influential Mac users in our organisation.

  5. Aseem, your statement that “FrameMaker is here to stay” sounds a bit funny to us Mac users. Or, at least, it would have sounded funny, if most of our work was not based on a now dismissed application (that costed us a considerable amount of money to buy and keep up-to-date).A single, unpaid freelance has ported OpenOffice to Mac OS X. It is very hard to believe that Adobe cannot port FrameMaker, a commercial application, to OS X!Regards, Paolo

  6. At long last we have an active voice from Adobe. Please reconsider RoboHelp for FrameMaker in this equation. There are many of us out there who truly loved the product and want to continue using it as a supported and evolving one. WebWorks is not an online help product, it is a clunky converter. If you are serious about letting writers single source in an efficient way, please bring back RHF.

  7. I’ve been using Frame on MacOS since 1992. In the sciences we are often responsible for delivering our papers to publishers in camera-ready form, which means we do both layout and content-creation — the niche that Frame serves perfectly. No other application on the planet does what Frame does, and I have many gigabytes of content that I would rather not throw away by moving to another application (including a 500,000-word, 30-chapter book, which Frame handles beautifully).Despite all that, I am more wedded to Mac OSX than I am to Framemaker — Windows is absolutely not an alternative I am willing to consider — so I am currently waiting for the first of two events to happen: an OSX-native version of Frame, or an OSX-native application that does most of what Frame does. I will purchase licenses for myself and all of my graduate students the moment a viable solution becomes available.Apple’s Pages is slow beyond belief, to the point of being utterly unusable. Mellel doesn’t support drawing (I can maybe live with that) or cross-references or two-page displays (can’t live without that). Despite propaganda to the contrary, inDesign is a layout program, not a content-creation program. LaTeX is a fun, text-oriented video game — it was an interesting diversion when I was a grad student (as was troff, which is much better than LaTeX), but I no longer want to program my documents. Really, Frame is the only thing out there for many of us, and the fact that it is not running on OSX is simply astonishing.

  8. I was a big user of Frame for many years. I have multiple 200-slide technical presentations and standards documents written in Frame. When I left HP, I started to do all my consulting on a Linux platform. I would be happy to buy a $500 copy of Frame, but at the present moment I am investing my expertise into learning other ways to do my business. Scribus, Kword and Lyx are a few of the open source programs that are inexorably evolving to fill the Linux DTP void left by Frame. With no new documents in the pipe, I’m getting less attached to going back to Frame each day. Frame has become my main example for not becoming dependant on commercial programs. 10 years of document prep rendered useless by a simple change of platform.

  9. I have used Frame since 1990 (Sun), then moved to SGI (dropped Frame), then Linux (flirted with Frame), then Mac (dropped Frame). I make my graduate students use Framemaker for their thesis’ and have generated multiple converts as a result. A native OS X version would be bought! However, I am using Parallel’s on an Intel and Framemaker 7.2 works pretty well – to be honest (and I hate to admit it). Of course native would be better.

  10. Hi Aseem -(I have no interest in FrameMaker for Macintosh.)I am glad that FM8 is coming out “soon” and I have one very critical concern: I am on the verge of going to Structured Authoring in Q2. I will be paying a consultant to help me get everything set up. I expect FM8 will include some improvements to the Structured FrameMaker workflow, and I wonder if there is any way to be sure that the work I do will not become obsolete with FM8?For example, is there a list of structure consultants who are also beta-testers for FM8?

  11. Hi Aseem,I too am interested to see where the new Framemaker is going to take us. I won’t jump the bandwagon on the OSX request however.Th emain reasons for us to choose InDesign over Framemaker on some occasions are the lack of Unicode support, poor color control and not having the possibility to split footnotes over two (or more) pages.Anxious to see what will come out of the hat!Regards, Roel.

  12. Aseem,I’ve been most encouraged by your proactive work to get user feedback for future releases. Like you, I consider FrameMaker to still be “leading edge,” (despite a few limitations) because it is one of the only products to be designed with Technical Publications in mind from its first release.Major priority for the next release is expanded UNICODE support. If bi-directional and script based languages have to be postponed for an 8.5 release, at least extend UNICODE support to cover eastern European languages and such.Thank you for your hard work and on-going support. It seemed tht you had hundreds of one-on-ones at the FrameMaker Chatuaqua in November.Maxwell Hoffmann

  13. I am pleased to see that 9 of the 16 comments identify a Mac OS X version as the most important feature and would like to add my voice to the chorus. The 2 options suggested in Mike Perry’s post are particulalry interesting. I suspect that to “update the NeXT version for OS X” is easier said than done, but I agree a native FM for OS X would be the preferred option. I would also take his second option — FrameMaker under Crossover Mac — slightly further. If a native OS X version is not practical, then I would like to see Adobe sell a FrameMaker/Crossover bundle, in the same way it sells the FrameMaker/WebWorks bundle. That way, as a customer, I would have some degree of confidence that the installer would create a fully working system “out of the box” — and that Adobe would stand behind it if there are problems.See http://www.codeweavers.com/products/cxmac/Commercially, a FrameMaker/Crossover bundle would be a low cost, low risk way for Adobe to “test the Mac waters” — if it sells in sufficient numbers, Adobe could then make a business case for creating a native Mac OS X version; if it doesn’t, then we Mac users can hardly complain. Adobe could test the Linux waters in the same way, although my guess is that the FrameMaker/OS X market is currently bigger than the FrameMaker/Linux market.My company uses FrameMaker 7.0, the structured version, for everything we write — letters, envelopes, short papers, and long reports. The structured features mean formatting is consistent and as a writer, I don’t have to think about appearance. We started using FrameMaker (unstructured) with version 5.0 (just pre-Adobe) and switched to structured FrameMaker when version 7.0 came out.If Adobe announced a version of FrameMaker for Mac OS X, either native or guaranteed to work under Crossover Mac, I would place an order immediately.So my questions are:is there any hope of FrameMaker 8 for Mac OS X in 2007?will comments be re-opened so I can post this response on the blog?Kind regards and best wishes,John

  14. I’ve used FrameMaker since 1989 when it belonged to a company called “Frame Technologies.”When Adobe took over, I was happy. I was wrong to be happy.Adobe has done little more with it than to drop support for Mac OSX.Will it ever be easy enough for the Adobe developers to bring it back to the Macintosh?If I were an Adobe developer, it would embarrass me to know that my company considers bringing the product back to the Mac to be the limit at which my capabilities cannot reach and exceed.Every little software shop in the world can make Mac OSX applications but Adobe just can’t manage it anymore.The excuses that Adobe does manage to publish are laughable.And I don’t know what to say now when clients and employers bring up the name “Adobe” to me anymore.Do consider giving this formerly loyal Adobe advocate a resaon to rember your name aagin when a customer or associate asks me which brand of sofrware to buy. Because the idea that quitters never win will always have a significant influence on anything I may find myself willing to recommend.

  15. As have others, I’d like to throw my hat in the OS X ring, because as of present, I’m looking toward other tools — even (gasp!) Word, the product that brings pains in my side every time I use it.The argument I don’t buy from Adobe is the payoff. Frame is a (roughly) $800 package, upgrade for $200. With the high-end funded scientific community embracing Macs combined with the generalists, you could easily see $2.4 million gross revenue in only 2000 new licenses and 2000 upgrades. Don’t tell me for a second there is only 4000 Mac Frame users out there. Not to mention that if you do the codebase right, you get a free Linux/Unix/Darwin/BSD CD in every box!(Tell you what: You give me $2.4 million and the source code, and I’ll get it done in eight months.)The point this makes is that it would appear that Frame is not the cash cow Adobe wants it to be, and thus is put out to pasture. The size of the margin is not great enough. It is not enough to say, “we can make money at this (not a lot, but still make a profit) and foster good will (cuz God know it’s in the tank right now); what Adobe needs to hear is, “we have to make boatloads of money, or we’re not doing it.”I used to argue strongly for Frame. I built a Web site with support tips. The wish list mentioned earlier has problems from version 3; and yes, I have reported them via beta or as bug or case numbers. I don’t expect Adobe to say, “Drop what you’re doing, Tim called!”, but some of these are both easy to fix and embarrassingly silly. When Adobe does not address issues like these, but keeps shoveling money at XML, it sends a message that Adobe is pushing off the base users and putting in features that they hope will turn it into the next Acrobat or Photoshop.And in doing so, the ones who brung ’em to the party, the Mac users and the small shop who would be happy just to get color, are out in the gravel parking lot, in the cold Kentucky rain, smoking cigarettes.

  16. You said: “how can we make sure that FrameMaker continues to be the tool of choice for you.”Simple! Give it to us on Mac OS X. We’ve already used it for 17 years on the Mac.If you want to keep us and stop us switching to PTC Arbotext or MadCap Blaze, listen to your customers and give us what we want.ThanksPaul

  17. Hello, Aseem!First of all, a new style of communication seems to emerge at Adobe regarding FrameMaker, which is a good thing.Now, for the suggestions. I have to say, though, that getting them would be important in this year’s release already.Unicode is an integral part of the XML standard. In Europe, we have to deal with a lot of languages and rely heavily on Unicode. As a consequence, FrameMaker better offer native Unicode support soon. This is the single most important issue for the folks I am talking to.Then, a more modern UI would certainly help in improving efficiency in working with FrameMaker.Keep the news coming! Every bit of information is welcome!Armin

  18. Hi,we too would really like an OS X version of Frame- it’s a great product, but there are several things that still work better under OS9 on Mac than Windows.Cheers,Craig

  19. Thanks, Aseem, for seeking input from FM users. You ask: how can we make sure that FrameMaker continues to be the tool of choice for you?The one and only one thing you could do is release an OSX version. I don’t actually care if Adobe continues to *develop* it, I just want to run a version of the current release — 7.0 is fine, 7.2 would be nice — that doesn’t require either Classic or me to pay Microsoft any money (I’m sure you share the latter goal). There are lots of creative suggestions in the responses to your postings. Please pick one of them and run with it.Besides writing many smaller docs in FM I’ve produced camera-ready copy for a textbook (Modern Logic, OUP 1994) and for a research monograph (Attitude Problems, OUP 2006) in it. There is nothing to compare to FM. Depriving Mac users of it is cruel and unusual punishment.

  20. If Adobe is really committed to FM, why isn’t it being merged into the Creative Suite? Why doesn’t it work well with Adobe’s other products?InDesign and FM are different enough, they don’t compete. They’re more like Illustrator and Photoshop–two tools with similar and yet different purposes. Adobe goes to enormous efforts to convince users that if they have Illustrator, it makes sense to have Photoshop and vice-versa. And they make a lot of money as a result.Yet, as it stands now, Adobe is doing nothing to convince us that if we have FM, we should have any other Adobe product. In fact it forces us to choose between CS and FM. Go with high status CS and there’s no reason to use FM, their neglected little orphan child. Go with FM and there’s little reason to buy any other Adobe product.FM not only needs to be improved and modernized, it needs to become the long, complex document portion of CS, available as part of an Enhanced Publishing package. It needs to work well with every other Adobe product, sharing features with InDesign and doing things the latter is ill-suited to do.

  21. Aseem,I’ll second Ian’s question. Will you be in Europe? Soon I hope. Could be nice to meet up and generally discuss – FM of course.Keep smilingThomas

  22. I agree with the others. Adobe dropped FM for Macs when the Mac’s market share was sliding and OS X was new. Its market share is now growing and OS X is particularly popular in the sciences for its Unix roots, marvelous UI, and fast Intel CPUs. OS X needs a restored FM.Two Options:1. BEST: FM ran on Intel chips under Steve Job’s NextStep/OpenStep, from which today’s OS X evolved. Why not update the NeXT version for OS X?2. ACCEPTABLE: Work with WINE/Crossover to raise the rating of FM emulation from Bronze to Gold and offer all Mac FM license holders a chance to migrate to Windows FM 8.0 when it comes out. The advantage over Windows virtualization: WINE is far cheaper, takes less resources, and exposes Mac/Linux users to none of the security holes of Windows. Those who just need to run FM, should not be forced to deal with the hassles of Windows. In the process, you’ll also make FM run well under WINE for Linux. That’s two new markets for a Windows 8.0 version you are developing anyway, markets that’ll still be there for 9.0 and 10.0.Notice that neither option requires reviving the old Classic Mac codebase.Keep in mind that, if Adobe wants users to upgrade, it needs to offer genuine improvements. I can list numerous, easy-to-add features that would motivate me to upgrade my Mac version of FM 6–features that make my work more efficient. (Adding SGML isn’t one of them, which is why I and a lot of others took a pass on 7.0.) Remember, people use FM with long, complex documents. Labor-saving features, like the book-level search and replace added in 6.0, quickly pay for themselves.Finally, keep WordPerfect in mind. After the Mac came out, Microsoft took a chance and developed two new products for it: Word and Excel. Both were able to build enough visibility and market share on Macs, they migrated to Windows and displaced Word Perfect. The same could happen with FM. The current lack of a FM-like product for Macs and Linux won’t last forever. And without a FM for Macs, this challenger will not only dominate that market, it’ll quickly migrate to the larger Windows market, displacing FM. It’s the classic ‘grow from a niche’ stategy.–Mike Perry, Inkling Books, Seattle

  23. Frame Maker on the Mac is a mission critical application for me, or at least as close to it as one can get. As the operating environment of the tool reaches the end of its life, I’m forced to seek alternatives.As a dyed-in-the-wool Mac user, the Windows version isn’t suitable for me. Rebooting and switching mindsets to another operating system several times a day is a non-starter. Virtualization engines aren’t much better. Running Windows in a window is a joke.What’s left is if someone would write an emulation mode that would allow a Windows app to run native on the Mac. But to my knowledge all such efforts are open source projects, which by definition means that they’re volunteer efforts with flexible schedules, spotty quality, and slow support (at least for the short term). But in any case, using the Windows version means working with reduced capability, which is also objectionable.I’d consider the Solaris version of Frame Maker, if only I could afford a Sun box. This is an expensive undertaking in terms of cash and effort, and therefore also unattractive.So my remaining alternatives lie outside of Adobe, finding a replacement for Frame Maker before I can no longer support its runtime environment.And while I’m at it, I’m also seeking replacements for other Adobe software that I’ve licensed. If Adobe is willing to abandon me for one of the most important applications I use, then I will gladly abandon them as a vendor for my lesser applications. I would also encourage others to do the same.On the other hand, if I could get Frame Maker back for the Mac, I’d gladly pick up Creative Suite, too. At full price. And encourage others to do the same.So Adobe is well advised that support of Frame Maker on the Mac may also improve sales of their other products. This is because there are customers who will either embrace or shun all of their products based on their treatment of Frame Maker.

  24. Will there be enhancements to the UI to make the product more usable? Look and feel is not important to me, but the structure view is not very intuitive, is very klunky, and takes up much more space than is really necessary.

  25. Aseem:Don’t you plan to attend the Documentation and Training Conference in Vancouver this April 18-21, 2007? We hope to see you there.Hey look, Adobe is a platinum sponsor: http://www.doctrain.comThere are some great sessions planned for this event including some FrameMaker demonstrations (and in alignment with your new tech docs tools offerings) a half-day workshop on Captivate from Neil Perlin.Hope to see you there.

  26. Hello Aseem Dokania,Any chance that the destructive Adobe business decisions to withdraw Apple and Linux FrameMaker might get reversed someday?

  27. I’m another Mac user who needs a version of FrameMaker on MacOSX. Since moving to an Intel Mac, I can no longer run any Mac version of Frame. I’ve since moved to a primarily open-source application lineup.If the option presents itself, I can easily revisit the decisions I’ve made, but any commercial packages I specify come from companies that support my chosen platform.

  28. Hi,Thanks for posting.What of FrameMaker 8? Could you drop some hints, please, for public consumption.Are you aware adobeforums.com has a FrameMaker features request thread?Question for our Mac users: now that Macs use an intel chip, can you more easily use the Windows version of FrameMaker? I ask because a previous PM for FM told me that support for the Mac was being discontinued because of the size of the installed base and the non-trivial task of updating old code from UNIX to the OS-X flavour of UNIX. Having pushed away a sizeable portion of the old Mac user base, does it make sense for Adobe to try and rescue that market any more? Just asking ….Back to Aseem, you mention keeping FrameMaker at the leading edge of technology. I mean no disrespect, and I love FrameMaker, but I love it for its reliability, durability, expansion (via XML) and unstructured via the excellent WebWorks Publisher full product, and so forth. It’s really not on the leading edge of technology, though. For Windows, there’s only RGB PostScript. Unicode arrived in 1996, but FrameMaker does not have it. Have you looked at the Format > Font menu recently (no, I don’t ever use it, but it is there in all its glory), etc.Please keep in touch with us and thanks for setting up the blog!Cheers.Sean

  29. Parfait…La question reste patente… Toujours pas de version OSX…?Beaucoup d’utilisateurs en Europe souhaient une version sous Macintosh…Or, la première version de Frame est bien Unix…De Unix à OSX, un petit pas à franchir… Enfin…!Perfect… The question remains obvious… Still not of version OSX…? Many users in Europe souhaient a version under Macintosh… However, the first version of Frame is well Unix… Of Unix with OSX, a small step to be crossed… Finally…!

  30. Hi Aseem,It is really good to hear from you. Many people like myself really appreciate the new style of communication from Adobe with the users. Keep that going!- Michael

  31. Hi Aseem,I’m pleased to read that you are collecting so much input from FrameMaker users and supporters. Will you be visiting Europe soon as well?I’m sure many of us would also be interested to know how this feedback is translated into new features for future releases.It’s true what you say about FrameMaker being an inseparable part of our work lives. It’s reassuring to know that our favourite software application is in safe hands.RegardsIan ProudfootiTP-X

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