Re: HTML v. Acrobat (was Electronic File Transfer)

Subject: Re: HTML v. Acrobat (was Electronic File Transfer)
From: "James M.Lockard" <norton -at- MCS -dot- NET>
Date: Wed, 6 Mar 1996 00:13:45 -0600

Time for me to chime in,

There's entirely too much to quote. Arlen discusses the virtues of Adobe
Acrobat and its ability to deliver online documentation in a completely
fixed form. I see a problem here--actually, two problems. Neither HTML nor
Acrobat is a great delivery tool for online information.

Acrobat is great for putting a carbon copy of an 8.5" by 11" page on a
computer screen, but who wants to read _that_? I'm not saying you couldn't
design a document for online distribution first, and then "compile" it with
Acrobat. I'm sure you can. From experience though, people don't.

HTML has it's own problems: the ambiguity of how the info will look on
different viewers, the unreliable servers, and limited features. At least
HTML documents are designed, ostensibly, to be read from a computer screen.
You'll rarely find a graphic that won't fit in your window. Still, as a
tech writer, I hate the fact that I cannot know how the doc is going to
look for the reader. Even more, I hate the fact that I'm forced to define
my output by such a narrow set of parameters.

My point? Oh ya . . . there was one somewhere . . . here it is. There's no
perfect way to deliver online information yet. Give me an program that'll
let me build online documents like a DTP program, let me create more than
just "see also" links (pop-up notes, secondary windows, etc.), and let me
script the functions I need that the program doesn't do. I need a full-text
index that can use a stop-word file larger than 1024 bytes. Bookmarks,
annotations, cinematic transitions, optional visual and audio feedback for
links, cross-platform compatibility (yes, even OS/2), I want it all.

Give me a program for online information--not a winhelp tool, a multimedia
tool, a portable document tool, HTML nor SGML.

Sorry, too many deadlines, too little non-REM sleep.
James Lockard
norton -at- mcs -dot- net

"You know what SGML stands for? Sounds Good . . .Maybe Later . . . "
-- William Horton

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