W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-ig@w3.org > July to September 1998

Re: Re: Adobe And TRACE Launch Enhanced PDF Access Via Email

From: Bruce Bailey <bbailey@clark.net>
Date: Tue, 01 Sep 1998 16:57:21 -0400
Message-ID: <35EC5FB0.B400069E@clark.net>
To: "w3c-wai-ig@w3.org" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
CC: Robert Neff <rcn@fenix2.dol-esa.gov>, "T. V. Raman" <raman@Adobe.COM>
Dear Robert,

I have found your contributions to this group most enlightening, so please
don't take this wrong, but I would argue that the site you reference (Joint
Warfare System) is an example of BAD AND INAPPROPRIATE use of the Portable
Document Format!  I could not find any compelling reason why the hard copy
printing was of critical importance for the documents you cite.

Flat PDF creation can be very easy for the authors of print documents.  This is
just about its ONLY virtue.  Given that one has purchased the right (somewhat
expensive) utilities, one can publish PDF in the same manner as printing.
Graphical charts, diagrams, pictures, etc. take about the same bandwidth and
work whether they are rendered as GIFs or PostScript.  PDF bookmarks add little
overhead to the file size, but require effort (and are more difficult than
internal HTML links).  Of course, if an author was thinking of the reader, s/he
would be probably be writing in HTML in the first place!  In the few files I
sampled, the JWARS authors don't bother with bookmarks.  The ONLY thing JWARS
gains from PDF is consistent page numbering from their web documents to print
documents.  The guarantee of "printing right" is illusionary in any case:  what
if the person is using a poor quality printer, the wrong size paper, or
monochrome for a color document?

I have seen two justifications for PDF that are (somewhat) better than your
example:
1)  The transmission of print forms (e.g., an IRS 1040).  That is, documents
that are printed locally, filled out (by hand), and then SNAIL MAILED back to
the source (where they would, no doubt, be data processed).
2)  The transmission of sensitive (e.g., protected by copyright) works to
members (e.g., college students) by an institution.  The document could be
posted to a public site, but would only be useable to those who had the secret
password (since PDF files can be encrypted).

Without getting into the realm of accessibility, there are severe flaws with
the above rationalizations for the use of PDF.

It is twice as much work to do both HTML and PDF, so, if you had to do it all
over, why would you bother with PDF?  Do you think the quality is that much
improved?  (If this is the case, I would argue that you need to take another
look at your HTML documents!)  Is the person who is doing it now aware of the
ADA legal requirement to make electronic documents accessible?  PDF is NOT
accessible.  Adobe's actions are a stop-gap measure designed to delay legal
action.  I could not find HTML versions of most document in the JWARS library.
Robert, I realize that you have moved, but does your replacement know his
responsibilities?  Would it help if we in the W3C WAI pestered him?

Can ANYONE reference a GOOD AND APPROPRIATE use of PDF files?


Robert Neff wrote:

> I have found PDF to be an asset - when used right.  I can deliver a
> document that can be seen AND PRINTED by anyone with the viewer.  This can
> deliver technical and graphical documents and display tables, graphs, and
> graphics.
>
> I have had to prepare and post many technical documents while maintaining
> content and security and this was the easiest solution. See
> http://www.dtic.mil/jwars/library.html - I have since moved on.  PDF was a
> blessing.  We received multiple formats and were able to post to the web
> with ease.  At that time the HTML authoring tools were ancient.  Though
> they have improved, I do not wish to think of the mess if I still had to
> put these up in HTML.  Oh, I could post them in HTML and make graphics out
> of the images and tables...  But I could not guarantee they would print
> right!
>
> PDF has its uses!
>
> Please note, at the time of the documents' creation, WAI was not well
> known.  If I had to do it all over, I would still convert the files to PDF
> and post, but  then I would also then convert to HTML and post.
>
> We used the bookmarks and thumbnail.  We would not use it for every file as
> this increase the file size.
>
> /rob
>
> -----Original Message-----

[Deleted.]
Received on Tuesday, 1 September 1998 16:55:47 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.2.0+W3C-0.50 : Tuesday, 19 July 2011 18:13:40 GMT