Long document publishing has always been problematical, with standard desktop publishing applications simply not cutting the mustard.
Adobe's buy of Aldus last year overshadowed its equally significant and similarly valued purchase of Frame. It is that acquisition which may see FrameMaker 5.0 emerging from the shadows to stake out some territory as a long document alternative in the DTP and electronic publishing market.
The acquisition has led to Renaissance Software, the Adobe distributor, taking over local distribution from Electronic Document Management, and a move to establish FrameMaker, already strong in the US, in overseas markets.
"Frame had a direct sales force in the US," says Renaissance's Adobe manager Warwick Grey, "and most of the market was developed and managed by that direct sales force. They didn't have an international distribution channel that was well structured.
"The advantages of a product like this are huge for people who are striking walls with applications like Word or PageMaker."
Jack Oyharcabal, a FrameMaker applications engineer, says PageMaker and FrameMaker are positioned quite differently in the market.
"We've positioned them as completely separate products," he says. "A lot of people confuse the products. Pagemaker is more graphics oriented and it's in our graphics business unit, whereas FrameMaker is in our publishing unit.
"FrameMaker's main markets is large technical manuals, user guides, maintenance specifications, things like that."
FrameMaker is completely structured, says Oyharcabal, so that all cross-references, page numbers and so forth are maintained and updated during the editing process. FrameMaker, unlike PageMaker, also has comprehensive built-in word processing capabilities.
Oyharcabal says FrameMaker's main competitors are not the standard DTP packages, but products like Interleaf and to a lesser extent Ventura, neither of which is used extensively in New Zealand.
Grey believes that FrameMaker also has a role in standard publishing houses as well as current technical users such as the Ministry of Defence and Power New Zealand. It can be a better option than PageMaker for any kind of long document, especially if references or tables are involved. Oyharcabal says the product can handle pages of tables much more easily than PageMaker.
FrameMaker can publish online, automatically converting cross-references to hypertext links, and is cross-platform with Macintosh, Windows and Unix versions
In New Zealand FrameMaker is available at the same price as PageMaker--$1395 ex GST.