Quick question.

Has anyone used Framemaker to write a novel? If so, what was it like?


Why would you want to write a novel in Framemaker? Framemaker is great when you write technical documentation with a lot of graphics, tables, equations and hyperlinks/references. None of which is of use in a novel (at least in a “normal” novel).

However, Framemaker is quite expensive and consumes much more CPU power than Scrivener, Bean or comparable applications.


Well, I wanted to know if anyone had actually tried it. If so, what worked, what didn’t work, would they do it again; that sort of thing. I read about one fella who did (though I think he was also a technical author so he’d already gone over the learning curve), so I wondered if there were others.

And I’ve never actually chosen one app over another based on CPU usage! If it’s the right tool for the job, I’ll get more memory or a better CPU.

As a technical writer, I’ve been using FM everyday for the latest 13 years. It is so essential to my living, that I’m preparing to move away from the Mac to follow this damned thing only available on Windows.

Despite the many and unique features, and despite being much less adverse to a writer’s work than mammoths like InDesign or XPress, it is not the most comfortable writing environment around. Version 9 seems to improve things a bit, but then what you earn in ease of structuring, you loss in an invasive user interface.

Not comfortable for technical writing, go imagine what it can be for creative writing. It is simply not the right environment, not the right toolbox.


Thanks for that.

Odd they dropped the Mac version though.

I posted this in Jacket magazine ( some time ago:

Adobe’s Framemaker is the Jumbo Jet of word processors. In fact it was used to design literally tens of millions of pages of Boeing airplane parts lists, diagrams and manuals: just the kind of job it was built for. I struggled to learn it for a year, studying three different 500-page printed manuals, and gave up. It is as solid as a rock and can do anything, but choosing to use it to write an essay is like buying a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to do a spot of fishing. Bruce Byfield has a fascinating comparison between Framemaker and OpenOffice Writer here: A heretical proposition, but Mr Byfield makes it sound very, very interesting:

Replace Adobe FrameMaker with Writer? Most people’s first reaction is amused disbelief. “FrameMaker is a hugely capable publishing product,” my editor admonished me. “OOo is a marginally competent word processor.” However, a functional comparison of several important desktop publishing features in both products shows that the products are more comparable than you might think.

FrameMaker has a reputation far out of keeping with its reality. While FrameMaker remains a stable and flexible product, its heyday is long past, and its features have not kept pace with modern expectations.

Moreover, its reputation is generally misplaced. Contrary to common assumptions, FrameMaker is not a desktop publishing program. Instead, it is a niche product for long documents, such as books, technical manuals, and dissertations. While brochures and posters can be done in FrameMaker (I’ve done both), it is not a designer’s first choice of tools for these jobs. Similarly, while’s Writer is often described as a Microsoft Word clone because of obvious borrowings in its interface, it would be more accurate to describe it as a cross between Microsoft Word and Microsoft Publisher. In other words, both FrameMaker and are publishing programs with limited capabilities compared to Adobe InDesign or QuarkXPress. From this perspective, a comparison is not as unlikely as you might think.


John Tranter