Re: Adobe's PDF (Dale Dougherty)
From: (Dale Dougherty)
Message-id: <>
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 1993 17:53:12 -0700
In-Reply-To: (Roy Smith)
        "Re: Adobe's PDF" (Jul 20,  4:38pm)
References: <>
X-Mailer: Z-Mail (2.1.0 10/1/92)
To: (Roy Smith),
Subject: Re: Adobe's PDF
Status: RO
On Jul 20,  4:38pm, Roy Smith wrote:
} Subject: Re: Adobe's PDF
>>There are many other concerns related to document interchange than those
>>being addresss by the WWW community.  The presentation of the document
>>is paramount to many publishers and they would not consider the use of
>>something like HTML/+ to distribute their publications.
>I really do have to agree with this.  HTML is the kind of thing that can
>only be loved by a computer scientist.  Yes, it expresses the underlying
>structure of a document, but documents are more than just structured text
>databases; they have visual impact.  HTML totally eliminates any visual
>creativity that a document's designer might have.  Sort of like newspeak. 
>Saying "This text file doubleplus unpretty.  Leave, redo, return when
>complete" may get the message accross, but it hardly has the flair and
>nuance of "This document looks like shit -- get out of here and don't come
>back until it's completely redone!"
}-- End of excerpt from Roy Smith

We're a publisher planning to distribute documents in HTML/HTML+.
I agree that there are presentation concerns that publishers have
because that is one aspect of a document where they add value 
to information.  I don't want to lose that ability, but I also
want to do new things.  I might like the ability to control
presentation for an individual document in WWW, but I'm happy
that I have more control than I do in gopher. Small steps.
As a publisher, I want to be able to distribute information 
as best I can to people on lots of different computers using tools
that they choose.  Delivery of information is paramount, in my
opinion.  If you want to receive my document on a VT100 document,
I want to be able to send it to you.  If I can show it to you
in Mosaic, and take advantage of a graphics display, then you
will recognize greater value in that form of presentation.  You
might recognize that we had designers involved in creating
that presentation.  Our designers are anxious to have more
tools to create more interesting, effective documents, so, sure,
they are concerned about presentation. 

SGML actually serves the needs of publishers quite well. 
Even in HTML, I can create one file and allow users of Xmosaic
and users of lynx on a vt100 can retrieve the same document.
It makes sense in both environments.  SGML isn't the single
solution to all the world's problems, but it makes some useful
distinctions.  I wish that
there were better tools available for SGML and I wish that we had standard
ways to represent formatting information.  Publishers are divided
over PostScript or SGML, and they are different ends of the spectrum.
I'm in the SGML camp because I want to reuse my information in
different forms and with different technologies.  I want browsers
to be able to process and manage the information, not just display it.

Let's look at WWW as a system and ask where it makes sense to introduce
a mechanism that aids in controlling presentation.  Don't assume that HTML must
provide it.  Don't assume that we need absolute control.
We have proposed a style 
sheet mechanism for consideration and believe that it offers a good way to map
formatting attributes to structural elements. I think it is better
to regard formatting info as instructions that can be interpreted with
some lattitude by the browser to achieve the best results.

I'd like to see more discussion of how to control presentation.  If
you junk SGML, you will lose more than you gain.  I have no problems
with supporting additional formats, such as PDF, if there's a good
PD implementation.  I don't think too many of us would be keen on
paying Adobe large sums to use its electronic xerox machine.


Dale Dougherty 
Digital Media Group, O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
103A Morris Street, Sebastopol, California 95472 
(707) 829-3762 (home office); 1-800-998-9938

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