Line breaks - HTML doc with printer-friendly PDF?

Subject: Line breaks - HTML doc with printer-friendly PDF?
From: "Glenn Maxey" <glenn -dot- maxey -at- voyanttech -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 20 Jun 2001 15:16:11 -0600

Sorry to be an opponent to your efforts.

PDF files (in combination with an HTML system) offer many advantages:

- you get the page layout as intended for print with appropriate
headers, footers, page numbers, TOC, index, etc.
- PDF allows you to print a range of pages or the whole manual.

HTML is a topic at a time. You can't really print out a whole book in
one go if it has been chunked into appropriate HTML topics. Even if the
topics are big requiring lots of scrolling, you still won't get nice
things like headers, footers, appropriate page numbers (as it relates to
the book), etc.

And to put more water on your fire, even if you did get your HTML to
have page breaks where you THINK is appropriate, it'll never fly. What
happens if your readers want it in a larger/smaller font (e.g., their
browser overrides your HTML/CSS settings)? On top of this major
usability problem in your proposal, I guarantee you that once you get it
looking good in one browser, you'll be hosed in another.

I single-source from FM into PDF (for print) and HTML. The HTML system
provides a button for "This PDF" and the navigation frame has a topic
for "Print PDF Documentation". Both of them link to the "owning" PDF

- Given the ease with which you can single-source into both formats,
- Given the advantages of both formats,
- Given the disadvantages of both formats, and
- Given the relationship of both formats to one another (IOW, same
information optimized for a different output),

I say, go with the flow. Don't waste your time trying to get HTML to do
something it won't ever be good at. Instead, get HTML to work with PDF
better. Let your readers choose which they like better and which they
want to use.

I tried to optimize my system for HTML. However, I noticed that
in-house, our engineers were prone to using the PDF version because they
could search through the whole book and could print out ranges of pages.
Having the two systems coupled together was a major benefit.

The only things I don't do are:

- hyperlink them from an HTML topic to the exact page in the PDF file. I
feel I am doing enough in just starting the associated PDF file and
letting them navigate from there.
- hyperlink PDF to the owning HTML topic. Too much effort, doesn't gain
me much, and doesn't gain the reader much, because they're on the search
for the holy grail and can find it ALL within the PDF file(s) or ALL
within the HTML system.

To sum up, 4. Stay with PDF and live with the redundancy. If you have
one source, then from your perspective there is no redundancy, just
multiple outputs.

Glenn Maxey
Voyant Technologies, Inc.
Tel. +1 303.223.5164
Fax. +1 303.223.5275
glenn -dot- maxey -at- voyanttech -dot- com

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Tom Maas [mailto:tommaas -at- hotmail -dot- com]
> Sent: Wednesday, June 20, 2001 8:51 AM
> Subject: Line breaks - HTML doc with printer-friendly PDF?
> every HTML technical document (mostly
> text and tables) published here also has a companion PDF
> document used solely for printing.
> I'd like to challenge this philosophy. My first HTML hurdle
> is to attempt to control where the printer breaks the text.
> What is your preferred way to control where the line breaks
> happen when printing an HTML document?
> 1. Javascript (not supported on some browsers)?
> 2. Page length HTML table rows?
> 3. Multiple HTML files - one for every page?
> 4. New options in latest HTML?
> 4. Stay with PDF and live with the redundancy?
> Tom Maas
> tommaas -at- hotmail -dot- com


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