Adobe FrameMaker 11 Review: TechWhirl First Look

Today marked the launch of Adobe’s long-awaited Technical Communication Suite 4, and one of its core components, FrameMaker® 11. Jacquie Samuels takes a First Look at structured FM 11 and compares it to her wish list.  Look for a more in-depth review of FM 11  later next week.

The newest version of FrameMaker isn’t one of those mind-blowing updates, where you have to re-learn the whole interface. One of the core goals for this release was to get authors working more efficiently, so you’ll find that Adobe implemented all those little things you’ve been dying to have, like robust keyboard shortcuts and better scrolling/selecting. Best of all, the entire application is noticeably faster, especially if you’re working with a large file.

But the best improvements are actually the little things: smart copy/paste into the right elements from HTML, Word, and Excel; an XML code view with its own special tree hierarchy (you might end up working entirely in this view); and the ability to expand the structure widget as far as you want.  One of my favourite little improvements so far: When typing in your document, press Enter to see a list of valid elements, type the first letter of the element you want, press Enter again to insert the element that’s highlighted. Adding new elements just got a lot less tedious!

If you’re using a connector with Documentum or SharePoint, you’ll now have custom metadata support too.

I did run into some crashing during Beta testing, but a quick rename of the log file directory solved all my problems and I’ve been crash-free ever since.

If you purchased the Adobe Bundled FrameMaker Improved Upgrade Plan with FrameMaker 10, you’ll want to make this upgrade for sure. For everyone else, definitely download the trial and run it through its paces. I think you’ll like it.

Check out Mike McCallister’s First Look at RoboHelp® 10 and Connie Giordano’s First Look at the Technical Communication Suite 4.

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