||This article needs additional citations for verification. (May 2008)|
FrameMaker 9 editing a document in Structured Mode on Windows Vista.
|Stable release||11.0.0 / July 25, 2012|
|Operating system||Microsoft Windows|
|Website||Adobe FrameMaker Homepage|
Adobe FrameMaker is a Desktop Publishing Tool designed for writing and editing large or complex documents, including structured documents. It is produced by Adobe Systems. FrameMaker maintains a strong following among professional technical writers.
FrameMaker became an Adobe product in 1995 when Adobe purchased Frame Technology Corp. Adobe added SGML support, which eventually morphed into today's XML support. In April 2004, Adobe stopped supporting FrameMaker for the Macintosh.
This reinvigorated rumors surfacing in 2001 that product development and support for FrameMaker were being wound down. Adobe denied these rumors in 2001, later releasing FrameMaker 8 at the end of July 2007, FrameMaker 9 in 2009, FrameMaker 10 in 2011, and FrameMaker 11 in 2012.
FrameMaker has two ways of approaching documents: structured and unstructured.
When a user opens a structured file in unstructured FrameMaker, the structure is lost.
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While working on his master's degree in astrophysics at Columbia University, Charles "Nick" Corfield, a mathematician alumnus of the University of Cambridge, decided to write a WYSIWYG document editor on a Sun-2 workstation. He got the idea from his college roommate at Columbia, Ben Meiry, who went to work at Sun Microsystems as a technical consultant and writer, and saw that there was a market for a powerful and flexible desktop publishing (DTP) product for the professional market.
The only substantial DTP product at the time of FrameMaker's conception was Interleaf, which also ran on Sun workstations. Meiry saw an opportunity for a product to compete with Interleaf, enlisted Corfield to program it, and assisted him in acquiring the hardware, software, and technical connections to get him going in his Columbia University dorm room (where Corfield was still finishing his degree).
Corfield programmed his algorithms quickly. After only a few months, Corfield had completed a functional prototype of FrameMaker. The prototype caught the eyes of salesmen at the fledgling Sun Microsystems, which lacked commercial applications to showcase the graphics capabilities of their workstations. They got permission from Corfield to use the prototype as demoware for their computers, and hence, the primitive FrameMaker received plenty of exposure in the Unix workstation arena.
Steve Kirsch saw the demo and realized the potential of the product. Kirsch used the money he earned from Mouse Systems to fund a startup company, Frame Technology Corp., to commercialize the software.
Corfield chose to sue Meiry for release of rights to the software in order to more easily obtain additional investment capital with Kirsch. Meiry had little means to fight a lengthy and expensive lawsuit with Corfield and his new business partners, and he chose to release his rights to FrameMaker and move on.
Originally written for SunOS (a variant of UNIX) on Sun machines, FrameMaker was a popular technical writing tool, and the company was profitable early on. Due to the flourishing desktop publishing market on the Apple Macintosh, the software was ported to the Mac as its second platform.
At the height of its success, FrameMaker ran on more than thirteen UNIX platforms, including NeXT Computer's NeXTSTEP and IBM's AIX operating systems. The NeXT and AIX version of FrameMaker used Display PostScript technology, whereas all other UNIX versions used the X Window System-Motif windowing environment.
Sun Microsystems and AT&T were promoting the OPEN LOOK GUI standard to win over Motif, so Sun contracted Frame Technology to implement a version of FrameMaker on their PostScript-based NeWS windowing system. The NeWS version of FrameMaker was successfully released to those customers adopting the OPEN LOOK standards.
At this point, FrameMaker was considered an extraordinary product for its day, enabling authors to produce highly structured documents with relative ease, but also giving users a great deal of typographical control in a reasonably intuitive and totally WYSIWYG way. The output documents could be of very high typographical quality.
Frame Technology later ported FrameMaker to Microsoft Windows, but the company lost direction soon after its release. Up to this point, FrameMaker had been targeting a professional market for highly technical publications, such as the maintenance manuals for the Boeing 777 project, and licensed each copy for $2,500. But the Windows version brought the product to the $500 price range, which cannibalized its own non-Windows customer base.
The company's attempt to sell sophisticated technical publishing software to the home DTP market was a disaster. A tool designed for a 1000-page manual was too cumbersome and difficult for an average home user to type a one-page letter. And despite some initially enthusiastic users, FrameMaker never really took off in the academic market, because of the company's unwillingness to incorporate various functions (such as support of endnotes or of long footnotes split across pages), or to improve the equation editor.
Sales plummeted and brought the company to the verge of bankruptcy. After several rounds of layoffs, the company was stripped to the bare bones.
Adobe Systems acquired the product and returned the focus to the professional market. Today, Adobe FrameMaker is still a widely-used publication tool for technical writers, although no version has been released for the Mac OS X operating system, limiting use of the product (FrameMaker up to version 7.0 ran under Mac OS 9, and is usable under Mac OS X, through version 10.4.11 "Tiger", on PowerPC-based Macs in the Classic emulation environment, but there is no Mac OS X native version of FrameMaker). Note that latest versions of Mac OS X, v10.5 "Leopard" and newer, eliminated Classic support, even for PowerPC-based Macs. Therefore, if running Mac OS X 10.5.x, it is now impossible to run any Mac version of FrameMaker using Apple-supplied software. An alternative is SheepShaver, a GPL-licensed, open source MacOS Classic run-time environment available for both PowerPC and Intel Macs. The decision to cancel FrameMaker caused considerable friction between Adobe and Mac users, including Apple itself, which relied on it for creating documentation. As late as 2008, Apple manuals for OS X Leopard and the iPhone were still being developed on FrameMaker 7 in Classic mode; Apple has since switched to using InDesign.
FrameMaker versions 5.x through 7.2 (from mid-1995 to 2005) did not contain updates to major parts of the program (including its general user interface, table editing, and illustration editing), concentrating instead on bug fixes and the integration of XML-oriented features (previously part of the FrameMaker+SGML premium product). FrameMaker did not feature multiple undo until version 7.2 (its 2005 release).
FrameMaker 9 (2009) introduced a redesigned user interface and several enhancements, including: full support for DITA, support for more media types, better PDF output, and enhanced WebDAV-based CMS integration. Platform support for Sun Solaris and Windows 2000 was dropped, leaving Windows XP and Windows Vista as the sole remaining platforms.
FrameMaker 10 (2011) again refined the user interface and introduced several changes, including: integration with content management systems via EMC Documentum 6.5 with Service Pack 1 and Microsoft SharePoint Server 2007 with Service Pack 2.
There were several major competitors in the technical publishing market, such as Arbortext, Interleaf, and Corel Ventura. Many academic users now use LaTeX, because modern editors have made that system increasingly user-friendly, and LyX allows LaTeX to be generated with little or no knowledge of LaTeX. Another alternative is Scribus, a desktop publishing (DTP) application that is released under the GNU General Public License. Several formats, including DocBook XML, target authors of technical documents about computer hardware and software. Lastly, alternatives to FrameMaker for technical writing include Help authoring tools and XML editors.
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