Re: HTML vs. PDF vs. HELP

Subject: Re: HTML vs. PDF vs. HELP
From: Stephen Forrest <techwriter -at- IBM -dot- NET>
Date: Sat, 9 Aug 1997 14:00:56 GMT

At 02:00 AM 8/9/97 -0500, you wrote:
>I am fixin' to start an online procedures manual for my
>department. I had decided that it would
>work best as Help, but the more I read about PDF, I wonder
>whether it is the better
>choice. One of my associates said he preferred HTML, which I
>didn't even consider for this project.
>
>Other departments might have access to parts of these procedures,
>and since they might not have
>a browser or the Reader, I thought Help was appropriate. Maybe
>there are options I'm not
>aware of.

Seems to me it depends partly on the method of distribution. If all the
users are on a network and using Windows, the WinHelp file is easy and
powerful. They just click on the file and it opens right from the network
drive. They can even make a desktop icon for it if they want, and they can
copy it to their own machine if they need to. PDF would also work, and might
give you some additional formatting options, but each user needs to have the
browser on their machine. On a network they can download the browser easily
enough. It's just a couple extra steps. However, WinHelp has some unique
features that PDF does not have, like pop-ups, macros, and secondary
windows, so decide whether you want those. Unless you are on an intranet, or
the users are connecting from far and wide, HTML is probably not the best
choice, because a series of files is required, and it's slower to open them
using a HTML browser. You also lack the unique features of WinHelp.

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