Wednesday, 12 September 2007

FrameMaker 8 and InDesign CS3

Like many professional technical writers, I have long been an enthusiastic user of Adobe FrameMaker for creating long text-rich publications such as software user guides and the like, so I was pleased when Adobe released a new version FrameMaker 8 a couple of months ago.

However, it's not the only professional document publishing product that Adobe manufacture. They also have Adobe InDesign CS3. Bill Blinn has posted an enthusiastic review of InDesign CS3 on his Techbyter blog. He says it is now ready to handle long documents, and I started wondering whether Adobe might have plans to merge the two products into one, which would worry me, as the emphasis in InDesign seems to be on the graphical publishing market, and on integration with other Adobe design and graphics software tools.

I raised this point on the Adobe FrameMaker group on Facebook (*), and I had a reply from Sarah O'Keefe of Scriptorium, who pointed out that there were three major features of FrameMaker which InDesign CS3 did not yet have: support for structured authoring; cross-referencing; and conditional text. Sarah also referred me to a product comparison on the Adobe site. I found the existence of the comparison reassuring, for the time being at least.

(* Yes, oh dear yes, I am on Facebook. But at least I am a member of some professional groups, like the FrameMaker one, so I am not wasting my time there entirely!)

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Apres Duchamp: Spam as Poetry

Today I received an unsolicited commercial email message (otherwise known as spam) which seemed almost elegiac. Of course, I knew that the text was made up of snippets culled from various websites and combined randomly to try and get past spam filters, but I was truly moved by the poetry. (Well, not truly!)

The Dadaist artist Marcel Duchamp exhibited a signed porcelain urinal in 1917, and went on to claim that found objects (or "readymades") become art when the artist chooses them, names them, and signs them.

Following Duchamp's theory and practice, I could claim the following spam extract as "my" poem. It is an object I found in my email inbox, I have chosen it, I have named it "Apres Duchamps" and I have done the equivalent of signing it by publishing it on my blog. Here it is:

Before those virile women!
Dismal, endless plain—
Comes up with as a means to its own end.
Calling me to you with wild gesturings
In realms of dingy gloom and deep crevasse
Of too much truth to do much more than lie
Seen. What you know is only manifest
III. Earliest Recorded Northern Explorers: The Greeks and the Vikings
trainer flips young alligators over on their backs,
Late February, and the air's so balmy
Toward the still dab of white that oscillates
Père and Mère Chose could be in conversation
Unreadable from behind—they are well down
That images of roads, whether composed
That images of roads, whether composed
trainer flips young alligators over on their backs,
and the Splendid Splinter. For a few dreamy dollars,
Through the back of the picture at the patch of white
And still my mind goes groping in the mud to bring


I could do that, but someone else has got there before me. Long before me. Spamdom is an entire site dedicated to "the wisdom hidden in unwanted email". Spamdom has several more elegiac passages just like this one, perhaps all the of them lost sections of one greater work (but more probably all generated automatically by the same spamming tool). Always the "late adopter", me...