Re: Structured text v. page descriptions (was Netscape, HTML, and

Chris Lilley, Computer Graphics Unit (
Tue, 25 Oct 1994 21:21:20 +0100

Mark Connolly said:

Nick Arnett said:
>>I think designers who want a high level of control should stick with
>>Acrobat, Common Ground and their ilk

>I agree. I think that with Acrobat, even in a stand-alone form, we're
>looking at a useful way of deflecting the pressure away from HTML in the
>short, and even long, term.

No, I disagree. Look at those documents out there that use illegal HTML,
browser-specific assumptions, etc to achieve a particular visual effect. How
many, as a percentage, are static pages without any links? Yup, thought so.

That is how many PDF will be useful for, right now, in stand alone form.

> Adobe's belated decision to make multiple platform Acrobat Readers freely
> distibutable may finally make their pdf documents truly portable.

Yes it may well do, once they are available. I looked
on <> and saw viewers for DOS, MS Windows,
Mac and Suns (OS and windowing system unspecified). No use for me with a choice
of HP, SGI and IBM workstations. No use to many of the Sun users either,
depending on which of the two popular Sun OS's and three Sun windowing systems
it uses. Aparently there are font licensing problems that have held back
development of the DOS and Unix versions.

And even then, no URL hyperlinks.

> I suppose I'd like to see someone come up with a browser that
> could handle both HTML _and_ pdf documents internally, rather than using a
> helper application (Acrobat), and could deal with links in those pdf docs
> to other WWW resources.

Sure, once that happens we are in a different situation. PDF would then meet the
needs of many of the people who not unreasonably want to apply document design
principles to their online documents. If HTML files can point to PDF files and
PDF files can point to HTML documents and they all come up in a single browser
so that the casual user sees no particular difference, then fine, I will agree,
much of the heat will be taken off HTML and it can go on being a simple glue
language for noddy unstructured hypertext documents (grin).

Until that happens, HTML will get used for hypertext document design because
that is all there is, folks. Nothing else has the cross platform appeal, Web
links, and massive installed viewer base.

Interesting to see what happens to HTML 3.0 if PDF-Web comes out first.

I saw a quote this morning that said Adobe were committed to adding Web link
ability to PDF; can't find it now though ;-) oh well.

Lastly of course there is the issue of what happens when the majority of the Web
shifts from using an Open document format to a proprietary one....

Chris Lilley
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