PDF versus HTML

Subject: PDF versus HTML
From: Mary Anthony <mary -at- PERSISTENCE -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 14 Oct 1996 12:27:05 -0700


Our company is going to move our reference documentation online. The
current debate is whether to use PDF or HTML as a document format. The
authoring tool will be Frame. The distribution method will be CD-ROM and
WWW. As I've successfully used this list in the past to generate pros/cons
for documentation issues. I thought I might leverage the list again to get
some more POVs. If it has already been discussed, just let me know.

I've attached a list of the pros and cons our internal debate has raised. I
would like to know if anyone out there has some experiences to share on this
issue. Also, if anyone can think of some additional pros/cons that would
also be helpful.


mary -at- persistence -dot- com

--------List Follows------

PDF Pros:
- Very good display quality.
- Author can choose authoring tool.
- Acrobat reader is free.
- Acrobat provides annotation feature.
- Less formatting layout information lost in conversion.
- Acrobat is structured for finding data on a CD-ROM.

PDF Cons
- User's have to download Acrobat rather than use their original browser.
- PDF files are read-only.
- To change content you need to go to source, edit, and convert to PDF.
- You have to add links and keywords after conversion -- cannot exist in
- You must build a searchable index with Adobe Catalog.
- Adobe continues to publish on Mac first then Windows (support issues).

- There is an HTML standards body.
- There are lots of tools coming on the market such as search engines.
- HTML is ubiquitous and is hence becoming a de facto standard.
- User's can modify the source easily (add their own links).
- With tools like Webworks, links are preserved at conversion time.

- HTML does not support underlining and strike through.
- HTML does not preserve indentation, font sizes during conversion
- Viewing quality is not "as good as" PDF

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