Re: HTML vs PDF for online manuals

Subject: Re: HTML vs PDF for online manuals
From: Sandy Harris <sharris -at- dkl -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 09:40:46 -0400

Melissa Kucbel-Saumier wrote:
> Hello,
> Our technical writing department was asked by the higher powers
> of the company :) to change our online manuals from PDF to HTML.
> As we do not agree with this change, we are trying to gather
> information on user preferences and usability of PDF vs HTML. Does
> anyone know any studies or articles on this subject that could
> help us justify our disapproval?

I'll way in on the other side. The only reasons I can see to even
consider PDF are if:

either you don't want the docs used online, the only goal
to distribute printable material via the web
or you have everything is some proprietary format that
cannot be converted to HTML

Barring those, the advantages of HTML (linking, readable from any
system, ...) make it obviously the way to go.

On the other hand, I'd aim at the next century and go XML rather
than HTML. See for information.

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