Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Lessons from great software - FrameMaker

New, even in software, does not mean better …(via Gruber)

…DF reader Cory Johnson emailed to point out that Apple’s new Leopard Security Configuration book, released yesterday, was produced in Framemaker 6.0, too. As Tsai wrote last year:

Michael Tsai - Blog - Old Meets New (2007)

… The iPhone User’s Guide contains lots of interesting information about the iPhone. But the most interesting thing, to me, is that the document was created on a Mac using Adobe FrameMaker 6. This version of FrameMaker was released in 2000 and ran under Mac OS 8 and 9. FrameMaker 7.0, the last version that ran on Macs, was released in 2002. Old Mac OS software can run under Mac OS X in Classic, but only on PowerPC-based Macs, the last of which was discontinued almost a year ago. Apple is apparently using some old software and hardware to document its newest product. I totally understand; FrameMaker 6 is a great piece of software, and there’s nothing like it for Mac OS X…

FrameMaker is widely regarded as a work of genius. MORE 3.1 was a work of genius.

Neither of them will run on any computer hardware sold today -- and there are no truly equivalent products from any vendor (OmniOutliner comes closest to MORE).

Creating a product as massive and complex as these software solutions, and then sustaining an original design through many iterations – that’s a rare feat. We don’t know how it’s done. It’s a lot easier to see why similar projects fail.

My guess is that you need continuity of a few very good people over at least ten years, with superb recruitment and training of replacements. That means those people have to be incented and rewarded. I think Apple knows how to do that, I have trouble naming any other large publicly traded company who has the recipe. Maybe Google?

PS. Maybe I can sell my PPC iMac (runs classic!) to a Minnesotan running FrameMaker …

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