Re: Should we skip HTML?

Subject: Re: Should we skip HTML?
From: Max Wyss <prodok -at- PRODOK -dot- CH>
Date: Tue, 10 Mar 1998 23:43:45 +0100


Distributing Word6 documents is an example of extremely poor netiquette.

With the known macro virus problems, Word6 documents are also a potential
source of serious trouble. In fact, working on a Mac, most of those viruses
don't affect me, but I still can redistribute them. I now open the files I
must open (because they are work) in FrameMaker 5.5. This does definitely
purify the file.

In this respect, PDF is a safer format. It does have the ability to launch
other applications, but there is a warning which lets the user decide
whether to proceed or not.

Max Wyss
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


>I am starting to get Word6 documents from the web as well. I have Acrobat
>Reader installed. My only problem with receiving PDF files is that
>sometimes people don't tell me that's what they're sending. Before you
>send a PDF file to me, please provide a summary, let me know how large it
>is, and ask me if I want to see it. Much of the time I'm not really so
>interested that I want to download the document.
>A while back, STC was putting conference information as PDF files. There
>the "what is the common denominator" question applies. If you want that
>information available to everyone, you had better make it readable on the
>web - in HTML.
>At 7:28 PM +0100 3/10/98, Max Wyss wrote:
>>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.
>>Max Wyss
>>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.
>>>Good luck
>>>Andrew Plato
>>>Owner / Principal Consultant
>>>Anitian Technology Services
>~!~ ~!~ ~!~ ~!~ ~!~ ~!~ ~!~ ~!~ ~!~ ~!~ ~!~ ~!~ ~!~
>Marilynne Smith marilyns -at- qualcomm -dot- com
>Sr. Technical Writer (619) 651-6664
> "We're building the wireless world"

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