Subject: HTML vs. PDF?
From: geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA
Date: Fri, 8 Aug 1997 08:45:52 -0500

Laurie Miles wondered whether HTML would overtake PDF as a
standard. Laurie, it depends on what type of standard
you're talking about. HTML is next to useless in print
publishing, a field in which Adobe is king and in which PDF
stands an excellent chance of replacing PostScript as the
preferred file format; thus, PDF isn't going to be
challenged anytime soon in print, and certainly not until
Microsoft attains the same credibility with publishers that
Adobe has attained. That's not going to happen anytime
soon, barring a miracle (an anti-miracle?).

For online information, the jury is still out. Microsoft
has decreed that everyone must have the internet on our
desktops, whether we want it there or not, and in the
Microsoft environment, it's hard to see how any other
standard than HTML help will survive in the long run. I'll
be interested to see whether they port their HTML help
engine to the Mac for use with Microsoft products there. I
know nothing about UNIX online info., so can't comment.

For the internet, the jury is also out. PDF is becoming
increasingly prominent on the net where typographic style
and layout are important; you still can't format something
as easily or consistently with HTML as you can with PDF...
even with cascading style sheets, HTML is unlikely to
attain anything approaching the sophistication of PDF in
the near future (if ever). HTML is still dominant on the
web, since it provides the skeleton for all web documents,
but PDF (and Java and ShockWave and LiveAudio and etc.
etc.) are rapidly becoming the skin and muscles that make
the skeleton work.

So the new question becomes: Which of these situations best
fits the one you and your clients are working in?

--Geoff Hart @8^{)} geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
Disclaimer: Speaking for myself, not FERIC.

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