TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: HTML & PDF files From:"Walker, Arlen P" <Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- COM> Date:Thu, 22 May 1997 12:08:05 -0500
Just a few observations to make before the jihad gets completely out of
* If you offer PDF *and* HTML documentation, your average (say
dialup-Internet- or AOL-type) user will use the HTML almost
If this is over the net, and your product is usable from the same station
that's doing the browsing, you're probably right. If it's on a CD-ROM and
Acrobat is included, or the poduct is across the room from the browser,
it's doubtful. My experience with users says at least half don't know you
can open an HTML file locally via a browser. Having installed Acrobat on
several Windows machines, I can say it went quite easily and cleanly. (And
before you take that statement too lightly, remember I'm a Mac user.)
* Precious few PDF files are developed in a page layout suitable for
on-screen viewing (ten-point type on 8 1/2 X 11-inch pages DONT DONT
DONT DONT display well on 14" screens)
Yes and HTML pages can be badly done as well. (I still remember one where
the type color was about one shade removed from the background color. Never
could figure out what that page was about.) But the undeniable fact that
some designers are idiots does not constitute a reason to avoid using a
tool. (Unless, of course, you're a big enough idiot to repeat mistakes you
are already aware of.) This observation applies to other comments as well.
Those who can't use a tool properly should either learn it or avoid trying
to do production work with it. The one thing they *shouldn't* do is blame
the tool for their own inadequacies and claim no one else can use it
The bottom line advice is the same for both formats: sit down in front of a
typical customer's machine and try to view it. If it doesn't work, go back
and redo it. Repeat until satisfied.
Chief Managing Director In Charge, Department of Redundancy Department
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.