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Re: html for print

  • Subject: Re: html for print
  • From: Roy Schestowitz <newsgroups@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 02 Jan 2006 11:21:34 +0000
  • Newsgroups: comp.infosystems.www.authoring.html
  • Organization: schestowitz.com / MCC / Manchester University
  • References: <kr2uf.3476$M%4.3342@newsread3.news.atl.earthlink.net> <MPG.1e2293cf4db86562989dd4@news.individual.net> <fi5uf.1384$%W1.132@newsread2.news.atl.earthlink.net>
  • Reply-to: newsgroups@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • User-agent: KNode/0.7.2
__/ [Jeff Thies] on Monday 02 January 2006 08:15 \__

> Stan Brown wrote:
>> Mon, 02 Jan 2006 05:00:00 GMT from Jeff Thies
>> <jeff@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>:
>>>   I have a club newsletter that is currently distributed as a PDF. I'm
>>>considering converting this to html...
>> Why? What benefit do you expect your users to get?

I can think of a few. Off the top of my head:

* Fast opening time

* Versatility

* Easy access to text

* Mobility (number of PDF readers for PDA's/mobile devices versus HTML

I once tried to do what the OP is after, but ended up frustrated. In case
this helps, here are (were) my findings:


> This is done in MS Publisher currently. I have little desire to learn it
> or teach my girlfriend how to use it (who volunteered to take over the
> newsletter). For me, setting this up to be edited in html is much easier.
>    Cheers,
> Jeff

No need for MS publisher. PDF can be easily produced using LaTeX or a
front-end to LaTeX such as LyX or Kile. You can also convert HTML to very
clean PDF. It doesn't cost a dime and doesn't need Acrobat Pro. If you are a
home user, the financial aspect of this might become a factor that's more
than a PITA.

>> Or what is wrong
>> with your present distribution in PDF? Too often people expend great
>> effort for no very clear benefit because they think they "should" be
>> using a particular sexy technology.
>>>1) PDF's can be formatted for a page to fit on a sheet of 8.5 * 11
>>>paper. I'm not sure how to this in HTML.
>> It's automatically done by the user's browser and print spooler --
>> not necessarily 8.5 by 11, of course, but the user's own selected
>> paper size.

I believe that PDF's can be sent to the printer in a variety of alternative
forms. A4 (or another preset size) is not carved in stone.

>>>2) A PDF can be set to print all pages. I'm not sure how to do this with
>>>html either.
>> There's no way. Every browser that I know of gives you the option to
>> print specified pages. But then, so does Acrobat Reader, so I don't
>> understand why this is an issue for you.
>>>Suggesting page breaks (in CSS) and having this as a single
>>>  document is one option. Where to set the page break is an educated
>>>guess for me.
>> And you're more than likely to guess wrong, since you don't know the
>> user's point size and type face. Even if you specify them in CSS, the
>> user can override them -- a good thing for visually impaired folks.

Yes, the paper-inequivalence in HTML is a big issue. What about floats and
dynamic decisions as to where images should be placed? How can such a
monster be rendered on-the-fly to 'emulate' a PDF?

>>>3) I don't think multicolumn support is common in CSS yet. (where a
>>>column automatically flows to the next).
>> This has been discussed extensively, and the short answer is that
>> there's no reliable way to do newspaper-style columns in HTML and
>> CSS.

Newspaper Web sites are often criticised for stubbornly attempting to do
this. They deliver distracting content and very unappealing layout that
confuses the reader. They stick to what they learned and embraced over the
many decades.

>> I think you need to make up your mind whether you want to control the
>> appearance of the newsletter or not. If you do, continue with PDF. If
>> you want to transmit _information_ rather than page layouts, be
>> prepared to embrace the flexibility of Web browsers rather than try
>> to fight them.

Make both versions available. I try to convert many of my pages to PDF's (not
making them accessibly to crawlers because of duplication). I also try to
make PDF's available as HTML, which is easier if you achieve if you work in
LaTeX and then export. Given all the semantics (structure), you can export
to HTML using your favourite conversion. latex2html is my favourite. Then
you add your favourite stylesheets.

Best wishes,


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