From Word to FrameMaker with Love

by Mumpy


I decided to join the 21st century a few months ago and bought myself a brand new sparkling license for FrameMaker, complete with a Multiple Undo feature for writers like me who always realize they have made a terrible mistake just a nanosecond too late.

It was glorious waving goodbye to Word. No longer will I have to wonder why my documents go straight from page 1 to page 3. No longer will Tahoma font continue to defy me and creep into my documents unbidden. Yes, indeed, we bid a fond adieu to Word and strode confidently into the wonderful world of FrameMaker without looking back. (I did have a third technical writer who looked back and I”ve been sweeping her up all week and putting her on my salad)

But it wasn’t all fun and nice cups of tea. My trusty side-kick found it very hard to say goodbye to the little magic paintbrush icon that that you waved three times and then you could trick Word into doing what you wanted. And I simply cannot figure out how to apply shading to a middle row in a table.[1] But by and large we are getting to grips with the table designers and the paragraph designers and the character designers and the fashion designers.

There is also all the new lingo to learn. Suddenly, we have strange and mysterious concepts like straddling and shrink wrapping, not to mention anchored frames and variables and master pages and side heads.

You know, you spend your life happily merging cells and then one day, poof, all of a sudden you have to straddle. Luckily for me, I did two years of Pilates and am quite good at straddling. Every time I get some disconcordant cells in a table and I need to straddle then, I simply lay down some towels on the floor and Bob’s your uncle

I’m even getting to grips with a Wingding Variable in a fetching shade of turquoise. And did I mention how much I like Master Pages? I’m not so keen on the Reference Pages though and I’m not quite sure what the reason is for their existence. Only God and Shlomo Perets know, and I’m not so sure about God.

The biggest problem is the time it takes to migrate from Word to FM – especially when transferring graphics. My boss is convinced that either I don’t know what I’m doing or that FrameMaker was a waste of money. I suspect that the truth, as always, lies somewhere in the middle. And now, if you will excuse me, I have about 59 unresolved cross-references to take care of. They look and act pretty resolved to me – but FM says not. And who am I to argue?

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[1] After publishing this article, the author suddenly discovered the secret and is now happily shading away.