Re: PDF vs. HTML

Subject: Re: PDF vs. HTML
From: Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- COM
Date: Wed, 16 Oct 1996 08:15:00 -0600

Feel free to disagree all you want, but there's no need to insult me.

Sorry. Wasn't comparing the two of you, just commenting on how a statement
which is wrong, and has nothing backing it up, still gets repeated over and
over. (That, plus I was hoping the Nazi referent would finally *kill* this
thread. ;{>} )

My only contention is that what applies to DTP-->HTML translators
applies exactly to Adobe Acrobat, because you are translating DTP-->

But you're overlooking the fact that documents can be designed for PDF,
just as they can be designed for HTML. My contention has always been that
HTML and PDF *both* can be used to mimic the printed page, and can be used
to design something entirely new. The fact that both are currently used to
mimic the printed page delivered over the net more often than anything new
and different is irrelevant. People are resistant to change, so new tools
get used the same way old ones were used, at least in the beginning; this
is human nature in action.

I guess, if you're looking for the root of our disagreement, that's it. You
see HTML as new and revolutionary; I see it as nothing unique, simply an
evolutionary development of an old idea. There's no concept of HTML that's
of recent vintage; it's all decades old, in some areas even older. It's
part of the evolution of computing; it has no claims to uniqueness. There
are multiple tools now for delivering what it gives, many of them do it
better, and there will be more later.

The customers are already there. Netscape is quite profitable and
other companies are cheerfully switching over to groupware intranet.

Yes, and horse breeders are quite profitable; that doesn't mean everyone
(or even the majority) rides one. Someone who sells Internet-based apps
into our company reaches less than a third of the people in it. The number
of people who access the Internet regularly is large, yes. But it's still a
decided minority.

I realize your company, Qualcomm, has a customer base which is almost 100%
made up of that segment of the population. There are other companies which
can make the same claim. But their are many more who cannot; remember,
there's a long distance between *can* access the net, and *does* access the
net. One size does *not* fit all.

Another factor which enters in is geographic location. Net access is
convenient in US and Europe. It is far less so elsewhere.

Medium of delivery is another variable in the equation. This time the topic
came up in regard to delivering docs on CD-ROM. I'm far more able to keep
Acrobat running while running other apps than MSIE or Netscape Navigator;
the resource demand is far lower. Plus, I've never seen anything that HTML
can deliver locally which surpasses PDF.

One independent study by International Data Corporation found that
companies switching over to an Intranet paid themselves back in 6
(See <>. I'd
love to read the whole study, but it's apparently not posted yet.
usually charge for these things.)

If independent studies were truly meaningful, everyone would be using
Macintoshes. ;{>}

>There may indeed come a time when even your toaster has a web

Precisely. I don't worry about whether or not this is a stupid idea.
I merely intend on communicating within this environment.

I don't worry about it, either. I simply suggest that the time hasn't yet
come when web access is convenient for everyone's customers.

You're right. It's next month. Adobe Pagemill 2.0 is still in Beta.

I *have* the beta. I quit using it. It's still too limited. It's far too
cumbersome yet. Besides the limitations of HTML, it has some amazingly
clumsy quirks of its own. The time for HTML is still Not Yet. When it
comes, switching to it will be a "no-brainer," much like switching from
typewriters was earlier. As it is, the switch is still dependent upon many
factors; for some it makes sense now, for others it doesn't.

There's a danger in embracing a technology simply because it's hot, it's
sexy, it's cool, it's popular. Technology for it's own sake nearly always
leads to bankruptcy court.

For every case study of companies which saved money putting up an intranet,
there's another of a company who built an intranet and nobody came.

Is net delivery of information the wave of the future? Probably. Is HTML
the vehicle? I don't know, but I rather doubt HTML as we know it today is
capable of being it. It may evolve into it, or something else may overtake

Anyway, I hadn't intended on launching into a lengthy discussion of this. I
just wanted to make sure you knew I wasn't making a personal comparison to
Goring in my previous post, and then the words carried me away. My bottom
line is let your customers tell you where and how they want it.

Have fun,
Chief Managing Director In Charge, Department of Redundancy Department
DNRC 224

Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- Com
In God we trust; all others must provide data.
Opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.
If JCI had an opinion on this, they'd hire someone else to deliver it.

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