Regarding: HTML versus PDF

Subject: Regarding: HTML versus PDF
From: Susan Brown <sbrown -at- JSCSYS -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 21 May 1997 20:31:52 -0500

At 01:36 PM 5/21/97 -0500, Rikki Mitman wrote:
>There seems to be a marked preference for HTML over PDF, and I'm
>wondering why. My experience with each is admittedly limited; however,
>since PDF files preserve your formatting and present consistently (not
>according to browser settings), it seems like that would be the better
>choice. What gives?

I have the same question. People seem to think the PDF limited, and,
I must confess, for a long time I did too.

My epiphany(?) came about when getting the STC $$th Conference CD
ROM. Several of the papers/presentations offered in it were PDF format. I
was quite surprised at the flexibility. Many of these 'documents' were 100%
NOT designed for paper presentation. Obviously a lot of time when into
understanding the tool before it was used.

As with many things, I suspect how useable a PDF format document is
is very dependent on the work that went into creating it. I just spent a
couple of months converting a Window 'Help' files. The original was just the
original paper document with a new topics created once a heading at any
level appeared (one chain was 7 windows long - click a selection - be
presented with a window with one selection - click that - be presented with
a window with one selection - etc.). If you make a PDF document from a
document designed for printed presentation (with a few cross references, a
TOC and Index), of course it's going to be a pain in the ass to view on a
computer. I strongly suspect if people took the effort to *design* a PDF
document for online presentation, the way we do with HTML documents, this
marked preference for the HTML would soon disappear.

WRT the comments that HTML 'displays' faster: I beg to differ. I
have had the chance to view the same document, formatted for each. The HTML
version was pathetically slow, the PDF version zipped along.


Susan Brown
Technical Communicator
JSC Systems Corp.

"I was brought up to believe that the only thing worth doing was to add to the
sum of accurate information in the world."

-- Margaret Mead

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