Re: PDFs as online help?

Subject: Re: PDFs as online help?
From: Michael West <WestM -at- ap -dot- aurecongroup -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Fri, 10 Jul 2009 09:53:44 +1000

> From: Nancy Allison
> Is it possible to link to topics within a PDF for context-sensitive

It is certainly possible to link to bookmarks within a PDF, however unless
you have control over your users' environments you (and they) will
probably run up against network security issues.

But PDF in general is ill-suited for context sensitive help. For one
thing, it can take much longer to open a PDF in some environments than a
web page. For another, many users will find it annoying to have PDF
windows opening up. Sometimes they will hide or be hidden by other

It's important to remember that PDF is primarily intended for printing,
and while it can be tailored for online use, it is fiddley by comparison
with other authoring tools, and slower to open on users' computers. Users
who are not accustomed to working with PDFs may find the PDF viewing
controls hard to use by comparison with standard browser tools.

Regarding special characters, you might consider embedding images in
HTML-based pages for much quicker access than PDF. That is, create your
text, make it as beautiful as you like, and then capture it in GIF, JPG or
PNG images.

Mike West

Disclaimer -


Free Software Documentation Project Web Cast: Covers developing Table of
Contents, Context IDs, and Index, as well as Doc-To-Help
2009 tips, tricks, and best practices.

Help & Manual 5: The complete help authoring tool for individual
authors and teams. Professional power, intuitive interface. Write
once, publish to 8 formats. Multi-user authoring and version control!

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