Reformat PDF for online info./don't replace WinHelp!

Subject: Reformat PDF for online info./don't replace WinHelp!
From: Geoff Hart <Geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 1999 13:05:15 -0400

Susana Rosende is <<...opting to make our pdf files available
from our FTP site, and considering dropping HAT-created
online help for an online manual>>

Pardon my bluntness, but that's generally a very bad idea
from the user's perspective. PDF currently doesn't directly
support context-sensitive links to the correct page of the
manual; you'll have to get your developers to do some
programming to create links that open the correct help page
when someone clicks the help button in a specific dialog box.
(This isn't rocket science, but neither is it as elegant as the
current WinHelp model, which provides this support directly
and simply.)

As well, if the PDF file is identical to the printed version of
your manual, it will be very difficult to read and use on the
computer screen. I've yet to see a PDF manual that was
designed so that it worked well onscreen; most still must be
printed, and that eliminates most of the advantage of having
the manual available online (e.g., fast searches). It's certainly
possible to produce a PDF manual that can be used easily
online, but you're going to have to redesign it to fit on the
screen, to use larger (thus more legible) fonts, and to include
a useful index with hyperlinks to the correct pages (since the built-
in search tools are inadequate, and will remain inadequate until
someone develops a search tool that understands context).

--Geoff Hart @8^{)} Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

"Excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from
acquiring the deadening effect of a habit." -William Somerset Maugham

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