TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:RE: PDF versus HTML From:Brent L Jones <bjones -at- VersatileSoftware -dot- com> To:"'Brierley, Sean'" <Brierley -at- Quodata -dot- Com>, "'techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com'" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com> Date:Fri, 10 Sep 1999 14:41:59 -0600
Brierley, Sean wrote:
> Is sending a PDF "customer hostile." Yes and no. For example,
> printing costs
> are huge. In the software industry, the most expensive part
> of the packaging
> is the books. For smaller-volume companies, that don't print
> 10,000 copies
> at one time but only print a couple of hundred, sending PDF
> instead can save
> costs. Is saving costs and making a product more price-competitive
Well, as a matter of fact, I think the answer is "yes." Of all the uses for
PDF, the one that really bugs me is using it to save printed documentation
costs by passing them on to the consumer. In the scenario above, the costs
don't somehow magically disappear. They aren't "saved." They are transferred
*directly* from the seller to the consumer.
The consumer has to invest time and materials in printing and (somehow)
binding the document. Assuming that this takes a half-hour to an hour, and
depending on who this consumer is, that could equate to a significant amount
of money (what's your hourly rate?) for time alone. Add materials (toner,
three-ring binder, paper, wear-and-tear on your printer), and whatever
"savings" you obtained on product price are more than gone. The only entity
that "saved" money via PDF distribution was the seller.
And don't think consumers don't know it. Nothing aggrieves me more than
shelling out for a product and finding that it's up to me to print my own
documentation. I don't have to compile my own code, so why should I have to
print my own book? I find it very customer-hostile.
Note that I don't dislike PDF in general, and think it can be quite useful
in appropriate contexts, as Lisa pointed out earlier.
Brent Jones, Documentation Manager
Versatile Software, Boulder CO
brent -dot- jones -at- versatilesoftware -dot- com