A return to desktop publishing

It’s a return to desktop publishing! I’m not sure what has given me the publishing bug or the writing bug for thatmatter, but I really want to get back to editing documents with apps like Corel Draw, InDesign and FrameMaker. Perhaps I yearn for my college days. No, those sucked so that’s not it.

It’s been years since I messed around with FrameMaker, 5.5.6 to be exact. It was just starting to make sense to me when I realized my machine was woefully underpowered to actually get any real work down. The old PIII, single processor (no such thing as core yet), sub-gigahertz machine with 1GB of ram. InDesign had just been created too so I bought one of those Teach Yourself in 24 Hours books and promptly put the whole project aside.

I remember the days of actually using Aldus Pagemaker, way back before Adobe bought them. They were the leading desktop publishing app mainly because they were one of the only desktop publishing apps.

The irony is when you look up which app you should be using so many people FrameMaker is this awesome and powerful program that will let you do just about anything from a publishing standpoint. But when you try to find books on the subject, so you can be cool like them, they are all but non-existent. And the ones out there are shunned for being so poorly written. A technical writing book with missing chapters, spelling errors and technical mistakes? Doesn’t exactly bode well for the craft or the product.

I even thought FrameMaker was a dead product because the release cycle was so long. Seems Adobe hinged everything on InDesign being a success. I’m still not sure which is the right tool for the job these days. Some people swear by FrameMaker, some say InDesign can do everything. Some still live for the halcyon days of QuarkExpress.

But let’s not forget Corel Draw. I bought that crazy ass program last year and have all but ignored it too. My friend can zip around the UI and put together fantastic newsletters and brochures. For a short project it seems to work incredibly well. I’ve been getting my feet wet with it again and I was able to make some substantial headway in just a few hours. It actually seems quite a bit more intuitive than the other apps. You can’t make a book with it but I put together a few pages relatively easily. The HTML export didn’t seem too bad either.

I don’t know that I could actually afford a new version of FrameMaker or InDesign. I don’t have that kind of money just laying around for a side hobby. The trial versions will have to do me for now. I might be able to get one of them at a student discount but even that price isn’t all that cheap. I could buy a slew of Itunes apps for that kind of money!

One thing that has been fun to discover is all the blogs related to writing. I have stumbled across some really neat blogs about technical writing and they have great advice about using these tools. They all seem to want to help people and offer lots of tutorials. Even if I don’t go far with my new learning effort I have plenty of new blogs to read.

You know you’re software adventures are going to be problematic when you stumble on getting a file imported.

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