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Subject:RE: Html vs. Pdf From:HALL Bill <bill -dot- hall -at- tenix -dot- com> To:"TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com> Date:Wed, 28 Mar 2001 08:33:35 +1000 (EST)
Susan Jelus is looking at the choice between HTML and PDF in documentation
"from the point of view of features, benefits, strengths/weaknesses,
"I'm especially concerned about:
- the availability of search/find functions
- ease of maintenance
- ability to layer information
- navigation tools
>From my jaundiced point of view of a person who reads almost everything on a
21" screen (or a laptop) - and most of it retrieved from the Web, I have
come to hate, loathe and revile PDF. It is slow to load and 95% of the
people who use it, format their documents in ways which make them very
difficult to read on screen - even a BIG one.
We all know that HTML has a lot of deficiencies where layout and design are
concerned. However, for people who have dispensed with slow and ponderous
paper, HTML has a MAJOR advantage - the formatting adjusts itself to the
user's screen requirements, which in most cases are set to maximise the
document's readability to the particular user. To my way of thinking - the
main requirement for any documentation is that it should be read by the
Another thing, many authors writing on screen use colour to help with their
presentations. As a reader, I also find colour quite useful (if used with
discretion). However, I work in an industrial environment where the only
reasonably accessible printers are B/W. The only way I see colour is
In general, cross linking in HTML documents works far better than PDF's
variety. Hypertext is an HTML specialty. When you are focussing on a paper
paradigm you don't think this way.
Where printing is concerned, I very rarely print anything (unless I suspect
the web page is ephemeral and I want to save an image for reference). In
most cases I can and do retrieve the desired information from the computer
or the Web (e.g., bookmarks or Google) when I need it far faster than I can
locate it in a paper filing system or even in the clutter on my desk.
If you want to print a pretty page for a design competition, use PDF. If you
want to deliver your content via a browser to an on-line user like me,
PLEASE use HTML for the sake of readability.
I could go on, but will conclude with only one more point:
95+ percent of the HTML pages I print are still quite legible when printed
(with page breaks being the only problem). Probably less than 30% of the PDF
documents I download are legible on screen - and often, when printed, the
type fonts chosen are not even particularly legible on paper.
Documentation Systems Specialist
Integrated Logistic Support
Tenix ANZAC Ship Project
Williamstown, Vic. 3016 AUSTRALIA
E-mail: bill -dot- hall -at- tenix -dot- com <mailto:bill -dot- hall -at- tenix -dot- com>
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