W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-ig@w3.org > January to March 2013

Re: Creating an accessible Table of Contents

From: David Woolley <forums@david-woolley.me.uk>
Date: Fri, 01 Mar 2013 22:12:25 +0000
Message-ID: <513127C9.6000507@david-woolley.me.uk>
To: 'wai-ig list' <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
accessys@smart.net wrote:
> my yelling then would be directly at adobe for making an inaccessible 
> format and not fully supporting access on all operating systems

PDF dates from an era when accessibility was not such an issue and met 
the business wants of the time.  My suspicion is that the wants of 
businesses haven't changed much, but their legal environment has.

> remember pdf is "Portable document format" so that printers and 
> customers could send proofs to and from printers for turning into hard 
> copy documents. not the other way round. pdf has been used in a manner 

I think you are confusing it with Postscript.  PDF was specifically 
designed for producing final form (i.e. fixed layout, presentational) 
documents for on-line viewing.  It is PDF but with the procedural code 
replaced by the results of running that code, and with additional 
information to make it easy to navigate interactively, e.g. document 
structure trees, pre-computed thumbnails (relatively rarely used), and 
in particular internal hyperlinks.

> it was not designed for as an "easy out" for putting documents onto the 
> web. so I have little pity for those trying to force users into adapting 
> to a form that was never designed to be used in the manner it has been 
> corrupted into.

That's because it pre-dated (upper bound on creation date: 1993) 
graphical web browsers, and possibly the web itself.  At the very latest 
it would have been contemporary with Mosaic.  From a marketing point of 
view, Adobe's biggest mistake was probably underestimating the impact of 
HTML on the PDF market.  (HTML probably got a start because it could be 
hand coded by students, and the internet tie in made it fashionable.)

Actually my take on it is that many web sites are actually striving to 
be final form, even if recently there have been minor concessions to 
fluid design.  It always struck me that marketing departments used HTML, 
trying to make it final form and it was the technical authors, who were 
more interested in content than form, and therefore natural candidates 
for HTML, who were relegated to producing PDF documents. (Possibly 
because marketing people create branding, but technical writers have to 
conform to it,so had to use a format that retained house style.)

David Woolley
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Received on Friday, 1 March 2013 22:12:52 UTC

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