FrameMaker 7.2 was announced this week (see our newsand Adobe’s home page for the product ). Our news story touches on many of the new product features, but a few things are worth highlighting. Overall, the release is a significant step forward for FrameMaker, and should be seen as very welcome news for organizations that rely on the product for technical publishing.
- The new release adds XML schema support. While Karl Matthews, Adobe’s Group Product Manager for FrameMaker, was careful to point out to me that the schema support does not extend to data typing, I think this is sufficient for the kinds of publishing applications FrameMaker users would develop.
- The product now includes XSLT support. XSLT transformations can be invoked at the time a structured FrameMaker document is opened or saved. This will enable, for example, a “save as” function that could invoke an XSLT transformation on an XML document to create other content sets, metadata extractions, and so on. This is a clever addition to the product, and gets FrameMaker developers away from being reliant on the FrameMaker SDK.
- The product comes with a starter application for DITA. This is also welcome news, as there is a groundswell of support for DITA, and an independent group had been working on a separate FrameMaker application for DITA. This gives FrameMaker users a DITA application supported by Adobe. Moreover, the FrameMaker DITA application reflects a great deal of work Adobe had done in-house using FrameMaker to produce the documentation set for Adobe Creative Suite 2. (For Adobe’s own case study of how they used FrameMaker for this project, you can download this pdf. A related case study at Idiom’s web site describes how FrameMaker was used with Idiom’s WorldServer technology to manage the localization of the documentation into many languages.)
- The new version also adds some additional features and functionality for migrating unstructured FrameMaker content to XML. They have a pretty useful Migration Guide here (pdf).
On the whole, I was impressed with what I learned about the new release. It has some important new structural features (schema, XSLT), and the DITA application is timely and useful to a growing number of potential users. The strength of this release should quiet some of the feelings among users that Adobe is not fully committed to FrameMaker. Moreover, at a list price of $699, FrameMaker continues to provide a great deal of value for its user community by combining XML editing, high-quality print publishing, well integrated support for Adobe PDF, and support for multichannel publishing.