Re: PDF vs Markup Languages

From: Clinton Jones <clinton_at_TTALK.COM>
Date: Wed, 2 Sep 1998 08:02:18 -0400

I agree with some of what Tony Barry says however I also feel that there
are two facets to the 'electronic form' need. Firstly there is the issue of
existing print archives and secondly there is the issue of new publications.
My focus is primarily on the existing print archives that need to be made
available to a wider community. The issue of generating and proliferating
more new material is a different problem. the markup languages will not cut
it for existing printed journals and documents. They won't cut it because
they are presently too expensive to use in the replication process. Too
many man hours will need to be spent on masking and encoding of the
existing materials for this to be a cost effective undertaking unless one
makes use of the a limited but workable solution like PDF. PDF is not clever
it is no better or worse than a photocopy, although i believe Tony will state
that it is dumber than a photocopy.

It is said that SGML is a technology to protect your investment in
documents. It is rich and flexible and has gained large support in the
industry. It is also said that SGML formalizes the document structure so
that techniques used to process formally defined objects, like programs or
databases, can be applied to documents as well, and this must be viewed
as highly advantageous however it presupposes that you start with the
definitions and have spent a massive amount of time and effort on creating
the necessary relationship and libraries to support the parsing for old
archives.For new and future publication, yes a markup language as the
development and generation environment is the solution but it must be
used from day one as a standard.

Being able to exclude images from text is a two way street. It allows one
flexibility but at the expense of portability. Markup language documents
with images are not ordinarily portable. Yes PDF is not an open standard
but it is a standard. Why do i say that ? Because it is used so extensively,
you may not like it but it's there. RTF is just like PDF, yes, you can read it
with an HTML viewer but you can't read it with an ASCII viewer so it is not a
standard, or, it is as much of a standard as PDF.

The markup languages will win. It is inevitable, I believe that technically
they are the most intelligent method to encode documents however it is
unlikely to be the method adopted for existing archives because of
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Received on Tue Aug 25 1998 - 19:17:43 BST

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