Re: Online Documentation. New! Improved!

Subject: Re: Online Documentation. New! Improved!
From: David Blyth <dblyth -at- QUALCOMM -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 18 Oct 1996 12:45:40 -0700

Hi All;

>>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.

And sometimes you can't _get_ an expanded hypertext environment but
you gotta put up the technical information anyway. That's what makes
it difficult.

It's not always easy to do a good job here. But creativity and brains
can make up for the lack of environment. Up to a point.

>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.

Yup. Some basic equation elements are being planned in future releases.

>Any on-line documentation system that doesn't support both of these
>is fundamentally broken as far as scientific and technical communication
>is concerned.

Nope. Or rather, HTML alone does not constitute the 'on-line documentation
system' for the Web. Web pages are not designed by HTML so much as by
HTML and Friends (Gee. That would make for a good IEEE paper title....).

You use HTML as the skeleton then call whatever other elements you need:
graphics, image maps, plug-ins, Java Scripts, CGI scripts, and so forth.
If you want vector graphics, get the plug-in.

Forgive me for getting back to (cough, cough) PDF for a second. HTML
is _designed_ to have 'hooks' to other building blocks. That makes it
a small, fast, and adaptable device built for a volatile environment.
That is, if you use it as intended.

Start with HTML, then add whatever elements you need. When things change
(on the Net, it's never 'if things change') disconnect one block and add
another.

It's object-oriented.



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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