Light-weight authoring tools are taking over

Sarah O'Keefe / Opinion4 Comments

The basic idea of structured content—separate storage of content and formatting—is changing production workflows and, increasingly, content creation tools. In FrameMaker 12, Adobe joins the party on the tech comm side.

In the upcoming release of FrameMaker 12 (source: Adobe):

  • Adobe is launching a “FrameMaker Lite” edition called FrameMaker XML Author. This product will be a subset of FrameMaker for authoring, collaboration, and review. It will not include “regular” FrameMaker publishing features (such as save as PDF).
  • FrameMaker XML Author will be significantly less expensive than regular FrameMaker.
  • To publish the content created in FM XML Author, the content can be pushed through the DITA Open Toolkit (integrated) or through the full version of FrameMaker. (Or, presumably, any other tool that renders XML content.)

One of the criticisms of FrameMaker an an XML authoring tool has been that it is too big and too expensive. With this new approach, Adobe provides a way to license a less expensive authoring tool for content creators.

This seems like a trend to watch.



About the Author

Sarah O'Keefe


Content strategy consultant and founder of Scriptorium Publishing. Bilingual English-German, voracious reader, water sports, knitting, and college basketball (go Blue Devils!). Aversions to raw tomatoes, eggplant, and checked baggage.

4 Comments on “Light-weight authoring tools are taking over”

  1. I saw Adobe demo FM Lite at tekom – and I thought it was one of those thin HATs for reviewers, SMEs and casual contributors which have been around for a while, whether as web-based front-ends like ixiasoft has one or MadCap X-Edit/Contributor.

    It seems to me that such light front-ends still assume/require someone else to have a full license to do more with the software than essentially contributing on the topic level.

    I think the trend you point out, thin HATs supporting structured content workflows and tools, is very relevant and timely – but I don’t think that’s what Adobe and MadCap are doing at this point.

    Okay, maybe now they will that you’ve put it on the map… 🙂

    1. Hi Kai,
      I think that there is a difference in the degree of lock-in. If I understand correctly, the Contributor product works only on files created in Flare—and you can only publish/deliver through Flare. The new FM Lite could be used as a stand-alone XML editor, which means you could publish via a non-FrameMaker workflow. At least I think so.

      1. Indeed, I’ve used MadCap’s Contributor, and I can’t imagine any use outside of someone with a Flare license.

        But it was my impression that it was the same with FrameMaker XML Author – at least that’s the way it was pitched: For people who don’t need *all* of FM.

        Of course, if there was any information available elsewhere, for example, on Adobe’s web site, we could just get on with it…

  2. It looks like Adobe wants to play in the same sandbox with XML editors like oXygen and XMetaL. They’re saying: Look, rather than getting your hands dirty with XSLTs and the OT, you can integrate with the FrameMaker that you already know and (maybe) love. Could be a pretty compelling message. Should be interesting to watch.

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