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Subject:Re: Should we skip HTML? From:Max Wyss <prodok -at- PRODOK -dot- CH> Date:Tue, 10 Mar 1998 19:28:26 +0100
Maybe we have to agree to disagree, but I can't resist to add a few points
to these comments, which do sometimes look as if they are based on hearsay.
It depends quite a bit on the market, whether "nearly everybody has a web
browser on their computer". But for the Wintel 95 world, you are right
(that's why we have that antitrust suit going on). The market penetration
of Acrobat might be underestimated.
Installing Acrobat Reader is "time and frustration"??? Fact is that the
process is really simple and rather straightforward. Besides that, Acrobat
reader does not mess up with the system, as the "favourite web browser"
It is true that the PDF format does lead to bigger file sizes. The reason
for this is that one single file contains all bits and pieces of the
document. Most of the elements of the document can be compressed in the PDF
format. Having one single file is the only way to ensure the integrity of
the document. The HTML format on the other hand relies on referenced bits
and pieces. In order to distribute a HTML documentation, a (more or less)
big directory must be handled. To ensure the document integrity becomes
more difficult with every added file.
Particularly with big harddisks, small files take much more space than teir
actual size. So, the file size argument is very weak. Also, maintaining a
bigger number of files on the installation will add more causes for
I do stress the document integrity point, as documentation is legally
binding. This does also concern the editability of the document on the
client's computer. It is very easy for anyone to fiddle around with the
components of the HTML based documentation. I am not aware of any tampering
protection in the HTML world, but if there are, I will stand corrected. The
PDF format has some inherent security which can be enhanced. Besides that,
it needs more than a word processor or GIF editor to successfully modify a
PDF based document.
Creation of the documents is another point. It is IMHO way easier to create
PDF based documentation than HTML based documentation. It does also depend
a lot on the tools used to create the documents. I must admit that I do not
have sufficient knowledge of Microsoft Frontpage to comment on its
usability for creating documentation. However, from some results I have
seen, I do have my doubts.
One has noted that I have so far not brought up the integrity of appearance
issue. This can again be an issue with the legal aspect of the document,
which does not only concern its contents, but also its form. I am open to
any suggestion on how to achieve that with HTML.
For the integrity and maintenance reasons, it may be dangerous to push the
client to the HTML path.
PRODOK Engineering AG
Technical documentation and translations, Electronic Publishing
CH-8906 Bonstetten, Switzerland
Fax: +41 1 700 20 37
e-mail: mailto:prodok -at- prodok -dot- ch or 100012 -dot- 44 -at- compuserve -dot- com
Bridging the Knowledge Gap
>Nearly everybody has a web browser on their computer. That is a fact.
>Few people have Acrobat readers or the browser plug-ins. The market
>penetration for Acrobat readers is quite small. Most users do not take the
>time and frustration to load their Acrobat reader drivers. This is a fact.
>That is why HTML help is better. Not to mention the fact that PDF files are
>enormous when they contain a lot of graphics, while HTML files can be much
>smaller and more modular. This is an opinion.
>Acrobat technology has been perpetuated by Adobe-lovers for years. It is a
>pretty neat technology, but the fact is that most people do not have the
>Acrobat readers (or have the wrong versions). In the days before HTML and
>web sites were popular, Acrobat was a good idea. Unfortunately, HTML is
>winning the share of eyeballs.
>Therefore, if you do PDF format only -- be prepared to loose eyeballs to
>people who do not care to deal with the Acrobat reader stuff. When I
>consult with clients I advise them to let go of the PDF dependence and go to
>HTML on-line documentation. With the new HTML tools like FrontPage,
>developing on-line HTML documentation is very easy.
>Owner / Principal Consultant
>Anitian Technology Services