PDF, Just say: "Let the customer decide!"

Subject: PDF, Just say: "Let the customer decide!"
From: David Egyes <davidegyes -at- HOTMAIL -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 12 Mar 1998 05:43:01 PST

Mark,

Please allow me the opportunity to respond to your article "Into the
Info Age, w/o PDF."

I can go so far as to agree that PDF is far from a perfect substitute
for a clearly-written, well-illustrated operator's guide. Nor does it
replace a professional quality online Help system.

However, I take exception to what's become an all too common phenomenon
of blasting away at products that clearly have merits, simply because
they don't provide ideal solutions.

From a business perspective, PDF offers mainly (1) choice for the
customer, (2) fast distribution for the documentation provider, and (3)
flexibility and speedy service for tech pubs departments.

Expanding on these points:

(1) Considering the comparitively low cost of providing an online (PDF)
op guide, the customer has the option of viewing the book online, as
opposed to flipping through the hard copy - if that's what s/he prefers.
The Acrobat tools required to produce the PDF are what, $400 or so? And
the Reader can be distributed for free. So whether or not you personally
like the medium, I can assure you that there are s/w customers out there
who do. In the end, you provide at a reasonably low cost a viewing
option to the customer they otherwise wouldn't have.

(2) PDF provides a distribution option for documentation providers that
makes it much faster and easier to service customers. For example, there
have been many times where I've been requested to email a PDF copy of a
manual to a new customer in a far away place. Yes, that person would
also eventually be receiving a hard copy, but the PDF they can get NOW.

(3) Within a company, PDF lets you send updates of service manuals and
spec docs to your company's field engineers and technicians servicing
clients abroad. This is a lot faster than sending the hard copy via
express mail.

I don't expect to convince you to like a product you simply aren't happy
with. And I don't own stock in Adobe. Yet I do think it's worthwhile
investigating why a business community uses a product and how their
customers receive it, before offering a public evaluation based solely
on its liabilities.

I hope my criticism is taken in good spirit. That's how I intend it, and
I'm interested in hearing your response.

Dave Egyes

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