Re: Online Documentation. New! Improved!

Subject: Re: Online Documentation. New! Improved!
From: Robert Plamondon <robert -at- PLAMONDON -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 18 Oct 1996 06:54:27 PDT

David Blyth writes:

>One of the things that makes an on-line document different is the difficulty
>inherent in presenting highly technical information in a compact hypertext
>environment. I'm surprised Robert didn't mention this.

I didn't mention it because I don't accept the conclusion. Some
highly technical information doesn't fit well in a "compact hypertext
environment." All this means is that an expanded hypertext environment
needs to be provided for it.

Admittedly, the tools tend to be lacking. HTML, for example, seems
to have left out two absolutely critical technical documentation elements:
equations and vector graphics. Any on-line documentation system that doesn't
support both of these is fundamentally broken as far as scientific and
technical communication is concerned.

The fundamental limitation of on-line documentation is the 75 dpi monitor.
There's much that simply can't be displayed clearly at such low resolution,
but prints well in paper manuals or on user's laser or ink-jet printers.
PDF, for all its limitations, has the advantage of not encouraging authors
to discard large tables and complex diagrams on the grounds that they
won't be meaningfully viewable on-screen anyway.

-- Robert
--
Robert Plamondon, President/Managing Editor, High-Tech Technical Writing, Inc.
36475 Norton Creek Road * Blodgett * Oregon * 97326
robert -at- plamondon -dot- com * (541) 453-5841 * Fax: (541) 453-4139


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