Re: PDF versus HTML

Subject: Re: PDF versus HTML
From: Wendy Carvell <wcarvell -at- ENVIRO -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 14 Oct 1996 15:43:03 -0400

The company I work for has also gone through this debate. The major
concern I had was the viewing quality of the document and the ability to
print, both of which the PDF format solved (and that Reader is free was
a big selling point with my bosses.) I can't comment on the advantages
of HTML, but I have found that using Frame and creating PDFs you can
automatically create the bookmarks based on the heading levels,
hypertext links between TOC and page in doc, and hypertext links between
index and page in doc. You can also set up links within Frame that
translate over to the PDF: cross-references, hot spots, jumps, etc.

We are bundling the Reader with our software so that the user does not
have to download it from the Net. I am also writing a few pages that
introduce the Reader to the user because it probably will be unfamiliar
to them.

Another thing is that if you tell users about the abilities of Acrobat
Exchange, they can set up bookmarks and links themselves. (They must
have this tool to use the index created by Catalog, anyway, I found
out.) This program is relatively cheap.

I guess it all depends on if you are willing to sacrifice viewing
quality for the ability to change text.

>From: Mary Anthony[SMTP:mary -at- PERSISTENCE -dot- COM]
>Sent: Monday, October 14, 1996 3:27 PM
>Subject: PDF versus HTML


>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
>WWW. As I've successfully used this list in the past to generate
>for documentation issues. I thought I might leverage the list again to
>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
>issue. Also, if anyone can think of some additional pros/cons that
>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
>- PDF files are read-only.
>- To change content you need to go to source, edit, and convert to
>- You have to add links and keywords after conversion -- cannot exist
>- You must build a searchable index with Adobe Catalog.
>- Adobe continues to publish on Mac first then Windows (support

>HTML Pros
>- There is an HTML standards body.
>- There are lots of tools coming on the market such as search
>- 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 Cons
>- 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

>to 2500+ readers, e-mail to TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU -dot- Send
>browse the archives at

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