Electronic Documents
 

Solutions

Overview

Electronic publishing is the process of converting a document into an electronic format that can be easily viewed on a computer, printed, or distributed over the internet.  For example, if you have publications created in MS Word, PageMaker, QuarkXpress, etc. that you want to share with others, then electronic conversion is the way to go.  By posting electronic documents on your web site, your customers, beta testers, registered users, etc. can have access to your very latest information at any time. There are several advantages to distributing information in electronic documents, such as:

  • Cross-Platform Support - Electronic formats like HTML and PDF can be viewed on most any platform. Adobe's Acrobat Reader, which is required to view PDF files, is a free download available for the most common PC platforms, including: All Windows platforms, All Mac OS's, Linux, IBM, SunOS, Solaris, Digital Unix, OS/2, and more. 
  • Portable Documents - Electronic documents can easily be distributed via e-mail or placed on a web site with the assurance that it will look the same to everyone who views it, regardless of the hardware/software they are using. 
  • Easy Browsing - Electronic documents can include hyperlinks, just like in a Web page, to let the reader instantly jump from one topic to another by clicking on the link.
  • Affordable Distribution - Electronic documents are inexpensive to produce because there are no printing costs.  And, they are also inexpensive to distribute because the file size is usually small enough that they can be sent by e-mail, downloaded from a web site, or mailed on a disk.
  • Easy to Upgrade - Because electronic documents are inexpensive to distribute, they are also inexpensive to upgrade and re- issue as your information changes. 

There are two primary electronic document formats that are widely supported and in use today: HTML and Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF).  Both formats are ideal for posting information on your web site and allow information to be presented in a compact, cross-platform file format.  A few notes about the various document types are discussed below.

HTML Documents
If you want to provide direct access to your documents on an Internet/Intranet server, HTML is still the best way to go. HTML is a text-based language that must be viewed in a web browser, such as Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator. Although HTML is weak in the area of text formatting, it does support color graphics in .GIF and .JPG format as well as links to multimedia files, such as .AVI video, .WAV  and MIDI audio. The user, however, must have the necessary hardware and software installed to view those multimedia elements. 

HTML files (like this one) are navigated much like a Windows help file. They rely on hyperlinks and the browser's navigation buttons to let you jump between topics. Since HTML is not very structured, it is not the best choice for producing online manuals and booklets. However, these files can be developed into HTML help systems, giving them advanced browsing features, including topic index and searching.  

In general, HTML is great for displaying information on your Web site or Intranet where "the people come to you". If you need to send information to other people, then PDF is a much better choice.  

PDF Documents
Like HTML, PDF files also support hyperlinks to let you jump between topics.  But PDF documents are much more structured, like an electronic book. For example, if you convert a document to a PDF file and e-mail it across the ocean, when the recipient opens and prints the PDF file, they will have an exact copy of the document, including table of contents, page numbers, graphics, and index. Even the fonts are preserved! 

The only downside to PDF files is that nothing comes out of them too easily. For example, if you wanted us to convert a PDF document back to MS Word or HTML, we could extract the text exactly, but any graphics would likely be lost, or just not look very good. For this reason, it is important that you always keep your source files (the files used to generate the PDF file). Do NOT (never ever) throw away your source files because you think "I already have the information in a PDF file". 

Although PDF files were not originally native to the web, they have since become a standard document format supported by all major browsers.  PDF files can be viewed and printed by anyone who has installed the Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is distributed free of charge by Adobe. The Acrobat Reader is available for the most common PC platforms, including: All Windows platforms, All Mac OS's, Linux, IBM, SunOS, Solaris, Digital Unix, OS/2, and more. 

Why
Converting a document to PDF or HTML, or converting a PDF document to HTML (or vice versa) requires specialized software and people who know how to use it.  It is rarely a "push the CONVERT button and you're done" situation. Files need to be properly prepared for conversion in advance, and often require post-conversion editing as well.  Unless you will be routinely performing document conversions, it is far less expensive to hire us than to purchase the software yourself and then commit the resources to learning it. 

Estimating Conversion Costs
ITSthe1 ability to extract and convert information from a document is entirely dependent on the method that was used to put the information into that file. Because of that, we cannot offer fixed pricing for this service. Some documents are extremely fast & easy to work with, while others require extensive preparation or post-conversion editing.  For this reason, ITSthe1 requires that you submit a sample document for us to review so we may provide you with the fairest and most accurate cost estimate possible. There is no charge for the estimate, and documents can be sent to
ITSthe1 Support via e-mail, or send us a URL and we can download them from your company's FTP site.

  • For conversions to PDF, costs typically range from $0.75 - $1.00 per page.

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