Re: PDF vs Markup Languages

From: Tony Barry <tonyb_at_NETINFO.COM.AU>
Date: Wed, 2 Sep 1998 02:20:36 +1000

At 7:04 AM 1998/09/01, Clinton Jones wrote:
>Development of a standard document format, vis a vis text and images

Standars need to be _open_ and not proprietry. So SGML, XML, HTML and TEX
and OK. RTF, Word and PDF are not.

>The images within the document
>should ideally be imbedded, not sourced from an external location; this is
>where HTML collapses, it is contextual, you can't imbed the images within
>the document unless it is UUENCODED in some way,

I would have thought the reverse. You are no longer constrained by the
limitations of print but can call in the images when needed and build them
dynamically if for instance the paper contains mathematical models
providing user input. To think that the static nature os paper is a virtue
is to overlook that it is a weakness.

>this may change but
>for the present it is a problem, images and their significance shouldn't be
>underestimated, a biological study of cell structures might be very reliant
>uppon the visual appearance of cellular structures and an image that is
>absent from the context of the document may make the document worthless

And ideally it should be in a three dimentional image which can be rotated
under the readers control to be viewed at different angles and panned from
different distances. A few static images are a poor comparison.

>keywords in a hidden environment invisible to browsers. I would be far
>better off stuffing my documents in a proper multi-object database though,
>where a librarian or archivist would create the indices and keywords
>relevant to the document.

Thats what the DC and RDF formats are being developed to do.

>In a phrase, I believe that PDF is the solution to the document in itself
>provided it becomes an open standard, HTML, SGML and XML have
>inherent contextual deficiencies which make single file management
>impossible, PDF will only be useful for the future if it is combined with a
>proper relational database support structure that is archived and indexed
>using good librarianship practices.

I'm afraid I can't agree. I would dismiss PDF out of hand and put my money
on XML as it is extensible as is SGML and follows an object model which
allows it to parse easily into database systems. Also remember that the
whole trend of these formats is to allow data and documents to be
distributed and shared aross a network rather than existing in a single
isolated file. We are so used to the idea of a book as an isolated
artifact we forget that ideas, the stuff of books, do not stand in
isolation. neither should their representation.


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Received on Tue Aug 25 1998 - 19:17:43 BST

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