Monday, February 14, 2005

Soft trial

I'm toying with making some articles in Cites & Insights additionally available in very simple HTML form.

I'm not sold on the idea. The reasons I give in the FAQ for using PDF continue to be valid. The trial run I'm mentioning here even validates one of them: despite using the most space-efficient (and somewhat hard to read, since the lines are so wide) HTML options, the articles combine to require more than twice as much paper as the issue does: 45 to 50 pages as compared to 24. (Yes, some of that's because of repeated headers and footers, but I'm not going to put articles out there without the surrounding material.) I also think the HTML form is a whole lot less readable and attractive, at least for print readers.

But I'm willing to give it a try, if I can do it without significant software investment or needing to take more than an extra hour per issue doing my least favorite part of C&I--that is, screwing around with HTML and postings to get the word out.

The methodology I used for this trial does appear to take about an hour to handle a typical issue's worth of articles, and used the cheapest software I could find that would handle copied Word text reasonably well. (It was a $5 CD-ROM that turned out to be a little more than just a web editor. If I turn this trial into a real feature, I'll mention that story in Bibs & Blather.) "About an hour" is without attempting to turn any URLs into live links, fix any cases where I've inserted a blank to make a URL break lines, or really do anything other than copy, paste, and mass-replace typeface indications.

Anyway: If you're interested--I'm only publicizing this here and on my LISNews journal--here's what you do:

Go to the C&I Tables of Contents form, click on 2005, go down to the latest issue. You'll note that each article name is a livelink. Try a couple of them.

Let me know what you think: Is this--

  • Pointless?
  • Pointless unless I make the separate articles a whole lot nicer?
  • Worth doing without any extra tweaking?
  • Worth doing, but you'd suggest a tweak or two that won't require real work on my part?

Comments either here or to me, wcc at, brand new, waltcrawford at, but I'm only likely to check that once a day or so. Comments by this Sunday, please: If I decide to do this for real, I'll try to back-convert this year's issues before 5:4 comes out (late February), then back-convert each previous volume--selectively--over the next month or four.

Extra note for this source only: "Minor tweaks" do not include suggestions for how I can pick up a bunch of other tools, learn them, and produce cleaner and better HTML by just going through a simple markup pass for each article. If the selective HTML versions happen, they'll be extras--and they have to be low-overhead extras. Otherwise, they take energy and time away from writing, reading, thinking, watching TV, relaxing...all the stuff I want to do.