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: Robert Neff <rcn@fenix2.dol-esa.gov>
Date: Tue, 1 Sep 1998 18:29:28 -0400
Message-ID: <01BDD5D6.74B860C0.rcn@fenix2.dol-esa.gov>
To: "'w3c-wai-ig@w3.org'" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
I have found your contributions to this group most enlightening,
Rob> thanks

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!
Rob> Disagree, what is your definition of GOOD and APPROPRIATE?  PDF offers 
better security than a read only file.  If you are in the middle of a 
solicitation, you can lock your documents so they can be printed but not 
altered.  We also built in house forms with PDF and found them to be 
useful, especially if we want to put tags and buttons for viewing and 
printing.  It all comes down to your needs, cost and timeline! Adobe 
Acrobat provides many tools to solve many solutions.  I am satisfied with 
the decision to use Adobe product.  This was GOOD and APPROPRIATE for us!

I could not find any compelling reason why the hard copy printing was of 
critical importance for the documents you cite.
ROB> In the technical environment, contractors are normally required to 
produce hard copies for the client.  In addition, the web provided the user 
group with hard copies to review and edit.  I have many years of experience 
generating documents and manuals for the hardware and software engineering 
environment.  Now that more information is available on the web, there are 
many of us who prefer the hardcopy, because our eyes are tired or old!!! 
 Plus I can read it on the train or flight..  Therefore, print is very 
important!

Most of these files were generated in MS OFFICE and other file formats. 
 Several of the documents came from multiple sources.  In this case, it is 
far easier to generate one file.  Also when designing for  a web site the 
most important issue is know your primary audience and in this case, it was 
a highly technical audience.  At the time WAI was unknown.

Flat PDF creation can be very easy for the authors of print documents. 
 This is just about its ONLY virtue.
Rob>Disagree and consider this to be a FLAME to PDF.

Given that one has purchased the right (somewhat expensive) utilities,
Rob>Acrobat Reader is freeware.  Acrobat Exchange is the product you need 
to convert the file to PDF.  At the time,  the cost benefit proved it was 
better to buy it!

one can publish PDF in the same manner as printing.
Rob>  Huh?  Not sure understand your point.  You can convert files to PDF 
via the print command, but you select PDF Writer or Print to File and 
Distill it.  Its easy.

Graphical charts, diagrams, pictures, etc. take about the same bandwidth 
and work whether they are rendered as GIFs or PostScript.
Rob> Disagree. This takes more time to generate from multiple documents or 
a WORD document.  The workflow is to cut and paste, convert to a GIF or 
JPEG and test.  The file size of the graphics we had would be quite large. 
 Albeit today there is a Powerpoint to HTML converter, but the images 
become large GIFs and need to handled properly.  PDF is an easier way to 
go.  Have also used VISIO Professional to convert images, works well but 
you may need to tweak in Photoshop.

PDF bookmarks add little overhead to the file size, but require effort (and 
are more difficult than internal HTML links).
Rob> Disagree, it depends how they are used.

Of course, if an author was thinking of the reader, s/he would be probably 
be writing in HTML in the first place!
Rob>  Again, depends on you environment and how much time you have.  The 
project was producing large technical documents and engineers  writing in 
HTML does not make sense.  Besides, this is not their purpose!  By your 
remark, then ever office should be writing in HTML.  However, HTML is not 
as powerful for WORD and HTML Web authoring tools arent there yet!

In the few files I sampled, the JWARS authors don't bother with bookmarks. 
Rob>  File size was already too large on most documents before we started. 
 I did not want to make them so they would take longer to download.  We 
also did not have time to bookmark each file.  This was laborsome and did 
not see the need to purchase automated tools for this.

The ONLY thing JWARS gains from PDF is consistent page numbering from their 
web documents to print documents.
Rob> Wrong.  People from all over the world were able to print and view 
what was on their screen, with a laser or a inkjet.  No one ever 
complained!  And remember your audience.

The guarantee of "printing right" is illusionary in any case:  what if the 
person is using a poor quality printer, the wrong size paper,
Rob> 8.5 x 11 in the US - or an A number in Europe.  Besides the world is 
not perfect!  If you have a problem, then you e-mail the webmaster.  I 
always replied within two days!

monochrome for a color document?
Rob>These print fine in Black and White, Look better in color!  I always 
test a document AND HTML page to ensure it prints well in both color and 
black and white.

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).
Rob> These are neither better or worse, rather they are the multiple ways 
PDF can be used!

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

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?
Rob>  TO benefit our PWD brethren!

Do you think the quality is that much improved?
Rob>For sighted people, yes.

(If this is the case, I would argue that you need to take another look at 
your HTML documents!)
Rob> Cant speak for the people there.

Is the person who is doing it now aware of the ADA legal requirement to 
make electronic documents accessible?  PDF is NOT
accessible.
Rob> Adobe is aware of the problems and is working with the WAI community 
to resolve.  Remember when PDF came out, WIA was not an issue.  PDF 
documents can be made accessible if converted.

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?
Rob>I left before the WAI became an issue in the federal government, so I 
will not speak for someone else.  However, there is a move in the Federal 
government to address these issues.  And like commercial entities, people 
are trying to address these issues with an increasing  workload and no 
increase in people or resources.

Would it help if we in the W3C WAI pestered him?
Rob> I do not think that is professional.  The site is geared toward a 
specific audience - technical and may not interface with PWDs.  If I were 
to pester anyone, I would take the time to review Federal, State and Local 
web sites.  These have a higher use of PWD than a technical site buried 
deep. Also, if you pester these people, you efforts will be noted but you 
may also create a hostile attitude inside DoD toward WAI.  This is a 
technical web site, if you have a problem with a document, then e-mail the 
webmaster and ask him to provide a text version for you.  But why do that, 
when you can e-mail it to Adobe and they will convert it for you.

My personal thoughts are, why file a complaint against a Technical web site 
with a specific audience where the documents were created years ago and may 
have very little PWD traffic.  In the latest release of maybe 508 (cant 
remember which one) it states something like this...the government does not 
have to comply if they can prove this would cause undue work and cost. 
  Budgets are shrinking...pick and choose your protests carefully. I 
believe the legal advantage gained for this specific action above would 
hinder progress made.  I am sure this statement will cause responses.... If 
anyone would like to respond, please cut this out and respond.

Can ANYONE reference a GOOD AND APPROPRIATE use of PDF files?
Rob> It appears that you are very anti-PDF or have a different perspective 
from the many people who have found it to be a useful tool. I do not  share 
your experiences.  Therefore, I doubt any examples I would provide meet 
with your approval.

Rob>My apologies to the WAI Interest Group,  but was not sure how to 
interpret the response.  Hence, I felt the decency to justify my comments 
on-line.  Bruce, if you will, if this response hasn't satisfied your 
remarks, please take this offline and send an e-mail to me.



-----Original Message-----
From:	Bruce Bailey [SMTP:bbailey@clark.net]
Sent:	Tuesday, September 01, 1998 4:57 PM
To:	w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Cc:	Robert Neff; T. V. Raman
Subject:	Re: Re: Adobe And TRACE Launch Enhanced PDF Access Via Email

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-----


-----Original Message-----
From:	Bruce Bailey [SMTP:bbailey@clark.net]
Sent:	Tuesday, September 01, 1998 10:41 AM
To:	w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Cc:	T. V. Raman
Subject:	Re: Adobe And TRACE Launch Enhanced PDF Access Via  Email

If this is what people want, then it is doubtless a good thing that you 
have made it available.
IMHO:
1)	Far too many web authors favor form over content and that PDF 
facilitates this.  PDF is reminiscent of frames-another bad idea that just 
won't go away.
2)	The majority of PDF documents don't use the available features (like 
thumbnails and bookmarks).  The most common rational for the use of PDF is 
to force multiple columns (an okay idea in print, a lousy idea on the 
screen).  A document's file size is increased by roughly a factor of ten 
(over the plain text version).  The cost/benefit ratio of PDF is extremely 
poor, so much so that it must be obvious, even to dunderheads.
3)	The form-based tool is compatible with Lynx and the Access plug-in for 
the Acrobat Reader works with screen readers.  The conversion algorithm has 
the same flaws in any case as the email version.

I am curious about where my logic is flawed.  I've read the Adobe 
propaganda, and I must confess that I just don't get it.  In my web-surfing 
experience, PDF are becoming less common (thank goodness).  I understand 
that PDF predates HTML and that some important sites are wedded to the PDF 
concept (usually sites that see their mission as providing print resources 
and not information).  I don't understand why the request for email 
conversion was so popular.
Doubtless this has all been debated before.  I do not want to generate a 
lot of traffic on this news group about this issue.  I would like to be 
directed to resources that address my questions and concerns.  Is there a 
 news group dedicated to PDF?  Better yet would be a web site that is not 
run by Adobe.  Best would be an archive (of discussion threads) where those 
of us who are new to the PDF vs HTML debate can go to get up to speed.
Thanks.

T. V. Raman wrote:
> Adobe And TRACE Launch Enhanced PDF Access Via  Email
> --New service enables conversion via email attachments
> (http://access.adobe.com)
>
> Adobe Systems and the TRACE Research Center are happy to
> announce a new service to enhance the accessibility of PDF
> documents to visually impaired users.
>
> Ever since we launched our popular server-based
> accessibility solutions on http://access.adobe.com in
> March 1997, the single most oft voiced request has been the need
> to convert PDF documents on a local disk or CDROM to ASCII
> or HTML.  In response, we have set up a a conversion service
> hosted by the TRACE Research Center (http://trace.wisc.edu).
>
> You can send PDF documents as email attachments to:
>
>     pdf2txt@sun.trace.wisc.edu-for plain text
>     pdf2html@sun.trace.wisc.edu --  for HTML
>
> and receive the result of the conversion in the reply.
>
> Adobe would like to thank Dr. Gregg Vanderheiden and the
> TRACE Research Center for helping us host this service.
>
> Attached is a summary of accessibility services provided by
> Adobe.  Our WWW site (http://access.adobe.com) has been
> revised in conjunction with the launch of this new service;
> please take a momement to visit us and refresh your
> bookmarks.
>
> --Raman (and the access.adobe.com team)
Received on Tuesday, 1 September 1998 18:29:12 GMT

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