Re: PDF vs. HTML

Subject: Re: PDF vs. HTML
From: David Blyth <dblyth -at- QUALCOMM -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 17 Oct 1996 14:19:43 -0700

>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.

We disagree on whether the statement is wrong, I had something to back it up,
and that's the first time I said it (at least in this thread). Still, your
apology is definitely accepted. In part because...

>(That, plus I was hoping the Nazi referent would finally *kill* this
>thread. ;{>} )

We agree on some things! ;) So let's drop this topic...

>But you're overlooking the fact that documents can be designed for PDF,
>just as they can be designed for HTML.

Actually, I'm not overlooking this and in fact I agree with you. This
is not the problem.

>My contention has always been that HTML and PDF *both* can be used to
>mimic the printed page,

Agreed. However, I also contend that HTML is not _designed_ to mimic
the printed page. For example, see Tim Berners-Lee's original W3
proposal <http://www.w3.org/pub/WWW/History/1989/proposal.html>. (I'm
sure there are some better references somewhere, but that's the
one I can find right now).

I further contend that using HTML to mimic the printed page is probably
Not A Good Idea, although you can do it. HTML's orignal purpose was:

o to display needed information quickly
o and to connect to the next interesting item quickly.

The designers assumed that page appearance was platform dependent so
did _not_ want to emulate paper (HTML 2.0 is bad enough. Do any
documents still exist in HTML 1.0?. And yes, I have references for
these contentions too.)

>and can be used to design something entirely new.

Granted, arguendo, that this is the case (I'm not sure whether or
not it is, but it doesn't really matter).

o The 'new' things created by PDF leverage off paper (postscript)
o The 'new' things created by HTML leverage off the Internet

My contention is that using HTML makes more sense, because:

o the Internet is where the action is. Not paper.
o the 'new' things created by HTML deeply integrate into the Net
in a way that is not possible with PDF.

There are other reasons, but let me pause a moment. I agree that
PDF is Really Amazingly Cool for some things.

What I'm saying is that the things that HTML is good at (speed,
connections and integration into the Web) are more important to
_Web_ documents than the items PDF is good at (sexy page appearance
and simplicity of creation).

I'm also saying (and I admit to repeating myself here) that _Web_
documents are gradually becoming the standard in the industry.
This may or may not be a good idea, but I appear to have no control
over the issue.

>Evolutionary vs Revolutionary

Think of small computers for a second during the seventies. The technology
to build your own existed before Steven Jobs decided to make some spare
change selling them. So was the Apple 1 revolutionary or evolutionary?

What matters is not so much _how_ corporations are moving onto the Net so
much as they _are_ doing it. Call it what you will - evolution or
revolution. What's important is that the Internet changes business - and
thus Technical
Communication.

And HTML is the Lingua Franca on the Net.

David (The Man) Blyth
Technical Writer & Web Site Designer
QUALCOMM

The usual disclaimers apply - QUALCOMM isn't that crazy.

Blodo Poa Maximus
-----------------


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