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article imageOp-Ed: Adobe, Microsoft and Google, why do you hate site makers? Special

By Paul Wallis     Mar 4, 2012 in Internet
Sydney - Let’s face it. People expect things to go wrong when trying to do anything. Some piece of software or some server somewhere will get in the way. For a truly hideous online experience, try formatting Word docs and making PDFs.
I’m trying to put together a careers website. It’s a result of years in the sector, and I want a good looking site. What I’m getting is “procedures” and software nuisances, and a lot of them.
Word vs. Adobe PDF — A saga of annoyances
The irritations were compounded, greatly, when trying to put PDFs online. The auto Adobe PDF maker on Word 2010 doesn’t manage the Word Page Layout very well at all. It does very basic colors, and the result is about 50% of what it could be.
I’m unimpressed. This is basic color, not quantum physics. What’s so difficult about simply copying a Word doc’s formatting?
Check this out- The original Word layout and the Adobe PDF version. If the first word that crosses your mind is “pathetic”, I quite agree. Note that the doc in blue is a Word preset layout. The Purple Horror is the Adobe PDF version of the same doc. I wanted a good looking doc. I got something from a rejects sale.
The original doc  and what the PDF did to it. Great  it ain t.
The original doc, and what the PDF did to it. Great, it ain't.
The point is that this is supposed to be a commercial site. It’s intended to get visitors, sell books, and do other things. I do not need some pitiful wannabe house painter’s version of any of my graphics. Why should I be disadvantaged by lousy graphics? Nor do I want bored, comatose readers staring at boring, comatose graphics.
Let’s clarify- There’s open source graphics software like Paint.NET which can do gradients of any color range with ease. I’ve just done 305 different graphics layouts using it, and it’s pretty basic. Unlike Adobe’s PDF maker, however, at least you know what you’re getting. With the PDF maker, it’s more a matter of guessing what you’re not getting.
It gets better. In what I now realize was a naïve attempt to rectify the problem, I tried a CMYK setting on the PDF menu. I was then told the doc was locked. People actually go to college to learn how to create these situations, and I can see why. Getting something done properly isn’t anywhere near as much fun as stuffing around for hours, is it?
The only other option here is to create a protected Word doc. Fortunately for me, this wasn’t quite as drastic a step as I thought. Word is notorious for creating Read Only docs out of thin air and making much unnecessary work for writers. This version of protection, however, does allow editing, at least by me, a totally unexpected and very welcome surprise. So I may for the first time ever not have to do three times more work than necessary to do an edit. I’ll believe it when I see it.
How sweet. Let us clarify, O Sugary Saints of Silicon, the needs of people trying to create online documents:
Speed- Website owners have tons of stuff to upload, and it has to be done properly. The fewer production problems, the better.
Security- When you upload a doc, you don’t want it to be vulnerable. PDF is the best way to do that.
Intellectual property values- We’re talking about commercial materials and their values here. The docs are “tangible form” for international copyright purposes. See any possible issues if those docs can be corrupted?
Does “any old crap our software can be bothered to reproduce inaccurately” sound like it fits these criteria? Does it sound like a great commercial asset? There’s enough hideous crud online as it is, without contributions from the major league apathy brigade.
Google Sites — Ahem!
All of this happened while Google Sites overview was repeatedly telling me about a server upload error and I was having “fun” trying to edit the new site. Server upload error? I can honestly claim, in all my years online, never to have seen that before. The average upload/error ratio is about 4-5/1. I have to make multiple attempts to upload one file.
Does this sound efficient? Does it sound like great business practice? Does it sound like I might be able to write a book on what didn’t happen while trying to make a website?
Let’s look at it this way:
The people who create sites create business for Adobe, Microsoft and Google. They create business for advertisers. They create jobs. They’re the main reason for the existence of search engines, Word, and PDF docs. They’re why the net keeps growing and changing the world.
So does it make sense that making site building, document and content creation easier might make making money a lot easier for you?
Because if it doesn’t, you guys are a lot sicker than you think. Give it a shot. See if you can live with the idea that people might actually want to get on with their jobs. If you like it, you can apply it to other products, and terrify people.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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