On July 23, Adobe announced the release of FrameMaker 8, which began to ship a week later. New features of FrameMaker 8 include Unicode, DITA, ability to embed “active” Flash and 3D objects in PDF, text-edit tracking, improved conditional text support, and attribute-based filtering. A review is available here.

In a first for Adobe, the company had provided some prior information about this release of FrameMaker. In the Adobe Technical Communication FAQ (PDF version), Adobe stated that “our [Adobe’s] current assumption is that the next major release of FrameMaker will be in the first half of 2007.” Given the complexity of the FrameMaker application and of software development in general, missing this target by a month isn’t too shabby.

Adobe posted the Technical Communication FAQ in July 2006. This action was very highly unusual — Adobe usually holds plans for new product features and release plans in extreme secrecy. However, at that time Adobe was facing market skepticism over its revival of Robohelp, as well as lingering rumors about the future of FrameMaker. The Adobe FAQ, and Adobe’s execution of the plans it outlined, have helped to assuage this skepticism.

Technical communication tools development has been relatively stagnant for the past several years. These are exciting times for technical communicators, with renewed activity (and competition) in the tools development space. Let’s hope that Adobe (and other tools vendors) will continue to share some of their future plans with us.