Authoring tools do matter
“I can write in anything.”
“The tool doesn’t matter.”
“I can learn any new tool.”
Most of the time, I agree. But then, there are the exceptions.
One of our customers is using FrameMaker to produce content that is delivered in HTML. (They use structured FrameMaker, generate XML, and then transform via XSLT into HTML.) Their rationale for using FrameMaker was:
- The project was on an extreme deadline.
- The writers already knew FrameMaker.
- FrameMaker is already installed on the writers’ systems.
All valid points.
We have had a continuous stream of requests from the writers to make adjustments to the FrameMaker formatting. Things like “the bullets seem a little too far from the text; can you move them over?”
FrameMaker is being used as an authoring tool only. FrameMaker formatting is discarded on export; HTML formatting is controlled mainly by CSS. However, even after repeated explanations, we continue to receive requests to modify the FrameMaker formatting.
In this specific case, the authoring tool does matter. Writers are focusing on the wrong set of issues (leading, kerning, print formatting), none of which is actually relevant for the output.
Why are they focused on this stuff? Because they can. It seems to me that moving authors to a WYSIOO (what you see is one option) tool, such as oXygen or XMetaL, instead of a WYSIWYG tool (FrameMaker) would eliminate the obsession with irrelevant formatting.