Re: HTML vs. Adobe Acrobat

Subject: Re: HTML vs. Adobe Acrobat
From: Tim Altom <taltom -at- IQUEST -dot- NET>
Date: Fri, 22 Mar 1996 10:25:00 EST

At 09:56 AM 3/22/96 EST, you wrote:

>Absolutely. The Amber Reader plug-in will only increase the presence of PDF
>files on the Web. Hence I believe choosing Adobe is a reasonable decision.
>However, Amber can't use the dozens of other plug-ins that Netscape can--and
>I challenge anyone to convince me that a number of these HTML enhancements
>won't be as ubiquitous in a year as gifs and jpegs are now. I have to
>speculate, too, that the design flexibility of HTML will only increase,
>evening out the browser playing field a bit and making the superior design
>capabilities of Adobe less attractive, less necessary. As always,
>everything is relative to consensus, money, bandwidth increase and how fast
>hardware upgrades move.

>At the Netscape conference in SF a couple weeks ago, a theme was the
>evolution of Netscape as an OS. Given this kind of serious thrust and the
>support the company's getting from so many other vendors/developers, and
>that Microsoft is into HTML (with its own extensions of course) in a big way
>on the Web and for their "integrated" desktop applications and online help
>doc, HTML looks like the long-term investment to me (whew!).

>In other words, yes, Adobe's going to get bigger, but HTML is going to get
>bigger still, IMHO.


It's an exciting time, isn't it? I mean, watching standards evolve right
before our eyes.

One thing that Adobe did right with PDF was to make it an open format, so
it's been pretty well received on the Web. And I think Amber is only a
stopgap, because while Netscape is constantly running to upgrade its HTML
playthings, it's also recognizing that it needs to incorporate PDF
capability right into the corpus of Netscape, itself.

I think there's every possibility that the two standards will remain apart
and distinct for separate purposes. HTML is easy to write on any word
processor, it doesn't require a huge amount of layout experience (because
the browser and end reader have so much control) and it's comparatively
cheap to create and maintain. It has all of the funsy little add-ons like
Java, which PDF doesn't.

But many publishers of serious pieces, like journals and zines, will want
control over formatting, leading them away from HTML. Such materials are
naturals for PDF, because you don't need to diddle with the text to add all
those codes, and the whole thing can be spat out of a tool with
comparatively little trouble. Most readers of PDF docs want something
permanent, something they can print and use like ordinary docs. HTML isn't
good for that. It's more of a circus feeling, with bright colors and
blinking text.

One major drawback to HTML, however, is that it's still evolving, and
evolving so fast that ordinary users are bewildered., for
example, the pre-eminent site for Web software, has client-side graphics
used as jumps. You need at least Netscape 2.0 for those. Interlaced graphics
are now common, and they're disorienting for the average Joe, who may be
using only a 14.4. At that rate of speed, an interlaced graphic can look
like a Netscape crash in progress. Of course, that's implementation, not the
tool, but HTML reminds me of the early days of desktop publishing, when
everybody who DIDN'T know how to lay out was rushing to lay out things, and
often turning out cartoonish dreck.

Tim Altom
Vice President
Simply Written, Inc.
317.899.5882 (voice)
317.899.5987 (fax)

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