Re: PDF vs. HTML

Subject: Re: PDF vs. HTML
From: Paula Puffer <techwrtr -at- CEI -dot- NET>
Date: Mon, 22 Apr 1996 10:30:36 -0500

Arlen wrote:

>As HTML grows an expands, it won't be recognizable to those who use it
>today. Unfortunately, it may also not be recognizable to those who use =
>*then*, either. And that's the point. PDF has a brighter future as a
>standard than HTML has. HTML is the bone of contention between Netscape
>and MS, and by the time those two behemoths are done tugging at it, =
>be useless to everyone else.

Ultimately the HTML standard will come down to what the World Wide Web =
Consortium ( and, more importantly, ISO says =
it will be. Since the global membership of the consortium comes from =
industry in several different areas -- manufacturing, government, and =
research -- I doubt Microsoft and Netscape are the only ones setting the =
standard as a whole. At this point, HTML is technically listed as a =
subset of SGML, so any guidelines concerning HTML will have to meet the =
SGML standard set by ISO.

PDF as a standard has its own problems as well. Right now, Adobe has =
everything to gain by getting PDF to be "the standard." Yes, it does =
allow you to keep the look of a paper document. It is useful in the =
presentation of complex documents (some people I know would say that =
tables could do much of what PDF does). However, I have found that you =
can design good looking HTML documents that work well in a variety =
situations without having to add yet another piece of software to your =
system or your users' systems. I have found that PDF and the Acrobat =
Reader don't always work as well as they should.=20

Ultimately, what you choose to do as a technical communicator depends on =
what the client's desires are, who your audience is, and what kinds of =
equipment will they have available to use to view the document in =

Paula Puffer
techwrtr -at- cei -dot- net

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