Well done! FrameMaker 5.5.6 is a solid, must-have book for beginner and intermediate FrameMaker users. I continue to be surprised at the lack of third-party books for this popular tool for writers, and this book is long overdue. Kudos to IDG and Ms. O'Keefe for putting this book together.
Even after reading the book, cover-to-cover, FrameMaker for Dummies still strikes me as an oxymoron? Why? Because, if you compare FrameMaker to word processors, as people are apt to do, FrameMaker has a high learning curve (not so compared to real competing products, such as Interleaf and Ventura), such that folks using FrameMaker are definitely not Dummies.
What doesn't this book do well? Let me offer my negative opinions, to get them out of the way. This book is not a substitute for Adobe's valuable FrameMaker Classroom in a Book. Dummies is definitely a reference tome, if you really want to get up and running, I recommend the tutorial-based Classroom in a Book *as well as* Dummies. Dummies might not be for you if you are an advanced or very experienced FrameMaker user (although, the appendices are worth a look-see and I recommend that it is still a handy reference), but neither is the book targeted at you (nor is there *any* book targeted at the advanced FrameMaker user, aside from Adobe's collage of printed and online information). Despite the fact that this *is* a reference book, I was still looking for, and missing, an overall flow from page setup through styles and chapter and book creation and maybe was looking for a little smoother organization and transition, from subject to subject and chapter to chapter. I'm probably being way too picky here, because this is a reference book.
In addition, the chapter on importing graphics misses a few things, such as resizing imported graphics in FrameMaker and FrameMaker's treatment of import resolution. A chapter on color, while a welcome and necessary subject, doesn't discuss how the Windows GDI affects color output from the Windows version of FrameMaker and, I think I missed a discussion of using TIFFs and EPS to sneak 4-color past Mr. Gates. I also missed a discussion of FrameMaker's hypertext feature, and was looking for a really clear discussion of getting and installing the PPD and PS printer driver for use with PDFs, *although*, this book does include all the relevant information in one place, unlike any of Adobe's documentation. I suppose I was looking for a clearer explanation of PPD/PS drivers, particularly for the benefit of folks using TrueType, not PostScript, fonts. A brief discussion of subsetting fonts in PDF and binary versus ASCII might have been included, but perhaps that's a topic for PDF for Dummies? I would also have enjoyed more discussion on MIF, an overview of the Frame Development Kit and what it offers, and I am surprised Esc Flk was not highlighted and double-underlined (I know I saw it in there but cannot, now, find it).
Please consider my critique in context: FrameMaker is a complex product with a host of bleeding-edge features. A Dummies book cannot possibly cover, in-depth, everything and still keep its target audience interested . . . it's just not possible.
What does this book do well? Pretty much *everything*. FrameMaker for Dummies certainly hits on all of the important concepts, tools, and elements that you'd use in FrameMaker to get the job done. In particular, the excellent section on numbering will answer all of your questions, master/reference /body pages, page layouts, character and paragraph styles, cross-references, and index are all well done--index particularly so (TOC is covered pretty well, though I'm not sure the book will really get you going on this if you have no prior experience with it). Text flow is well covered, and the coverage of HTML export and import filters is great (and answers a lot of commonly asked questions). The discussion of conditional text, a feature I like to use, is complete and useful. Ms. O'Keefe also does a very good job in leading the discussion of FrameMaker templates (a bunch of customized templates for the CD would have been sweet), and includes some very useful discussion on workflow that is obviously based on having been there and done that!
Especially valuable in this book is the discussion of building blocks, tables are very thoroughly discussed, the tips and tricks are on-the-money, Appendix B's list of resources is excellent, and the tools included on the CD are top notch (hey, the CD even includes a demo version of FrameMaker--on the internet I see requests for that all the time). More than that, the comments by the author, the asides that touch on workflow issues and FrameMaker peculiarities, along with the writing style, really help you get information out of this book.
All in all, if you use FrameMaker, you should get this book. If your are an advanced user, this is a handy reference to have. If you are a beginner or intermediate, FrameMaker for Dummies is an invaluable tool, store this book close by your keyboard for ease-of-use. Now, if only Ms. O'Keefe can show IDG the error of their ways and persuade them to convert to FrameMaker as their primary production tool . . ..