[linux-elitists] What's wrong with PDF

Jason Spence jspence@lightconsulting.com
Sun Nov 9 20:23:28 PST 2003


On Mon, Nov 10, 2003 at 03:11:59PM +1100, Ben Finney wrote: 
> On 09-Nov-2003, Jason Spence wrote:
> > On Sun, Nov 09, 2003 at 07:13:07PM -0800, Rick Moen wrote: 
> > > I'm _almost_ curious enough to deal with  PDF hassles, but not
> > > quite.
> > 
> > What's your beef with PDF?
> 
> PDF is great for converting to paper, if that's a goal.  For anything
> involving *reading the actual file*, it sucks charcoal.
> 
> For something that is essentially a text document, distributing it as a
> PDF is a pointless barrier to usability.  A very poor choice for a
> standards document.
> 
> Jakob Nielsen, while he may say some bizarre things at times, is on the
> money with regard to PDF usability:
> 
>     <http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20030714.html>
> 
> He's talking about it in the context of web sites, but the points are
> valid in this context also.

Hmm, those are some good points - I never really thought about PDF
files too much.  Looking back on it I suppose I just put up with the
problems because I had to read the PDFs to accomplish some task, kind
of like the DMV.

A few things I've noticed about workflow when PDF is involved:

 - Some people think the content creatopm tools are better for PDF as
   opposed to HTML.  I hear a lot of complaints about inconsistent
   CSS2 support and how table-based positioning is getting worse and
   worse.

 - There's a whole group of people like lawyers and other
   professionals who link a piece of paper with some mental construct
   it's supposed to represent.  This is the same group that tends to
   deposit their paycheck at the bank teller window or will avoid
   buying stuff over the Internet because the concepts involved are a
   little too abstract and/or scary for them.  

   I've noticed that this group tends like PDFs more than people who
   aren't like that, which may explain the heavy use of it in
   government...

-- 
 - Jason       Last known location:  11.0 miles northeast of MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA

A closed mouth gathers no foot.



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