Re: On-line v. paper

Subject: Re: On-line v. paper
From: Linda Sherman <linsherm -at- GTE -dot- NET>
Date: Sat, 19 Dec 1998 22:24:29 -0500

Judyth Mermelstein wrote:
>
> By the way, I AM a staunch advocate of saving trees when at all possible.
> That doesn't happen when users end up printing 100 pages of 8-1/2 x 11 to get
> a hard copy.

Or when they run down to Barnes & Noble and buy a book as big or bigger
than the one the software publisher didn't print or, as is increasingly
the case, write. I have about six shelf feet of third-party books about
Borland products because Inprise can't be bothered to document their
development systems properly, online or otherwise.

I want to bring up another point about PDF that I didn't see mentioned
(although I confess to not having read every last paragraph of every
last posting to this subject). It's not that I dislike PDF per se. My
beef is that 99 times out of 100, the "PDF" file is just an image of
what was or is meant to be a hardcopy manual. So it's in a completely
stupid, unusable, migraine-inducing format for viewing online--for
example, the pages are sized to fit an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper rather
than a typical 600x800 computer screen. Unfortunately, there seems to be
a growing number of companies who think that the only requirement for
calling something "online documentation" is that it can be
/*displayed*/--the requirement that it be /*viewable*/ doesn't seem to
enter into the management decision. If these companies who have stopped
shipping hardcopy would reformat their "online" documentation to make it
somewhat more usable, I wouldn't be so miffed. But they're trying to
have their cake and eat it to: i.e., not providing hardcopy docs, and
not providing something suitable for online viewing either.

Anothing thing. If they're just dumping page images into a PDF file
/*meant for printing*/, I'd much really rather have them in Word format,
thank you very much. I don't mind printing the occasional big
job--that's why I invested in a fairly quick laser printer. The problem
is, when it comes to printing, PDF stands for "You Could Have Bought An
Inkjet For $2,000 Less And Never Noticed." Last week I had to print out
a 600p manual on my 8ppm HP4M and it took nearly five hours, effectively
reducing my laser printer to about the rate of my old Apple Imagewriter
II (actually, the I-II might have been faster). Maybe if I had a 400Mhz
PII instead of this little old P166 I could have speeded that up to all
of 4ppm. A properly formatted Word file, on the other hand, would have
printed out in the expected 1 hr. and 15 minutes (not counting
paper-reloading/jam-clearing time) or not much more than that.

So when it comes to shipping "online versions of hardcopy docs", I don't
see it as being "online v. paper", but as PDF versus some printable
format, like Word, that doesn't consume so much in the way of system
resources. It /*used*/ to be that companies would put docs in Word
format, then suddenly everybody jumped on the PDF bandwagon, for no
reason I can think of other than Acrobat is "free" and everybody hates
Bill Gates. I really wish they'd jump back off.

Lin
--
Linda K. Sherman <linsherm -at- gte -dot- net>
Computer programming, technical writing, web development
phone: 1-727-842-6756 fax: 1-727-842-6853


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