Re[2]: HTML vs. Adobe Acrobat

Subject: Re[2]: HTML vs. Adobe Acrobat
From: Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- COM
Date: Tue, 26 Mar 1996 07:05:00 -0600

It sounds like you're suggesting that HTML encourages bad document
design. Is that correct?

What we could be seeing is the same phenomenon we saw when DTP software
came out. Everyone thought they were page layout experts. MS, having missed
their chance to screw up the DTP market, has spotted the Web in time to do
some serious damage to it. This will mean that we'll have another case of
this program not being able to read that document. While that wasn't too
serious for DTP, as everyone could read paper, it will be fatal to HTML.

I don't believe I've ever said "you should only use HTML".

I won't say that you did. But when I jumped into this thread, it was in
response to posts making that bald assertion, that you should always use
HTML for documents over the 'net, and never, ever, use .PDF.

But I will say that the Web is driven by HTML, not PDF. I'm
guessing that Arlen and I agree on this.

Pretty much. But I am probably more pessimistic about how long that will
last than you are. It's just that I've never seen Microsoft abide by an
open standard. They've made their money out of being anti-open for the
entire life of the corporation, making sure that no one else can write
programs to their specifications, either because the specs change too
frequently or because certain performance-enhancing parts of the specs are
never released to the public. I've seen no indications that this is about
to change, so I figure it won't be long until HTML is a proprietary spec
owned (in practice, if not in fact) by MS and where only MS can play with
any kind of success.

It *is* a Good Thing to have open protocols. I'm just not sure HTML will
remain either open or viable. Now, it's quite valid to point out that .PDF
is not open, either. This is true, but Adobe's track record is better than
MS at being willing to work with other companies without destroying them.
(Take a look at the latest requirement for shipping Windows with your
hardware -- MS will only let you ship Windows with your HW if you give them
a license to use every patent your firm owns, royalty-free. Talk about
giving away the store! So far, only IBM has arm-wrestled them out of that
demand.)

o PDF still focuses on making information look paper-like.

This summarizes all your reasons for preferring HTML, and it's a mistaken
assumption. PDF allows you to produce a document that looks just like a
piece of paper, this is true. But it also allows you considerably more
freedom. You are quite capable of making a document look like anything you
wish it to look like. You can include hyperlinks to other areas of the
document, or other documents, either on your system or somewhere else on
the network. And creating these links is as simple as with the HTML editors
I've seen -- simply highlight what is to be used as the link (by drawing a
box around it) and tell it where the link is going to.

HTML is evolving, making radical changes to itself. It's soon going to have
font specification commands, and even embedded fonts. In fact, I'd say that
in just a few years, you'll see it has exactly the same features that you
are complaining about in Acrobat. It's even possible the two will merge,
but I expect MS and Netscape to tear it apart before that happens. At best,
it will like the DTP arena, where you'll need converters for different
proprietary browsers in order to read any percentage of docs on the net.

The bottom line is my conviction that paper is gradually being
replaced by the Internet. And I continue to be dedicated to
communicating technical content on the medium of choice.

In many ways you're right. But where we part company is in the assertion
that PDF is paper. It isn't, any more than web "pages" are.

Have fun,
Arlen

arlen -dot- p -dot- walker -at- jci -dot- com
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