WWW.GOV (5 Star Publications)

Why GOV.UK content should be published in HTML and not PDF
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As part of the inspection officers assess three key areas to calculate the star rating; Hygienic food handling practices Cleanliness and the condition of the facilities and building Management of food safety To allow you to make informed choices about where you eat or shop for food every business is provided with a green and gold star rating sticker to display and the online ratings are updated regularly.

James Street, St. George's Esplanade, St. Andre, St. Jacques, St. Clair, St. Stephen's Lane, St. Julian's Avenue, St. Julian's Weighbridge, St. These happen to be the technologies that PDFs pose problems for the most. Comment by Thomas Smith posted on on 26 July Most annual reports by companies and organisations are in PDF and HTML is unpopular for this information, however, I like the idea of an automatic conversion tool, is this could be integrated into the requirements for annual reports to be in xHTML from I think it would be very helpful.

Comment by Mark Richards posted on on 25 July Which might not be a problem if it promised backwards compatibility, but it does not, and HTML features from previous versions have already been deprecated and browsers advise can be obseleted at any pont. HTML is not designed for archiving. Anyway, let's take the first example of the DVSA. Public records should be expected to last for decades at the very least, if not hundreds of years. Why is the publication dependent on a service, famous for breaching the public's privacy, just got fined as part of a competition lawsuit against them and other Android bundled applications , that can control which members of the public can access the content, surveills users, controls what video formats it will be available in and may charge users in the future.

Nevermind that if there is any problem with the company in question, its existence is in the control of another sovereignty who could shut it down, restrict UK access or let it go bankrupt. Public records should be in the control of the public, not any third party organisation that does not answer completely to the UK governemnets' wishes and control if necessary.

It appears our public records are going to be have an increasingly large number of holes in them from third parties they depend on and HTML features that may be removed. Thanks very much for your comment. While doing this, they make sure they capture how the pages looked including features that may become depreciated in future.

They also back up government Twitter feeds and YouTube channels. Comment by Keith Emmerson posted on on 31 August Small update on this. Other departments' channels will be also be added in due course. Comment by Rebecca Cave posted on on 24 July I asked the community on AccountingWEB. Comment by Gemma posted on on 20 July Hello, you say "We want to hear from you. I'm a government statistician, and we produced our statistics in HTML for the first time recently.

They look a lot better than in a PDF, and they're more accessible. When might we expect this on gov. Comment by James Smith posted on on 19 July As a very frequent use of gov. They also seem to have been written by far more competent members of staff, and the web content which is often rushed and incomplete. It is also crucial in my role as a tax advisor to take the CURRENT advice or interpretation of tax legislation, and tag that to a client file when giving advice, as when a tax investigation occurs, which may be as long as years after having given that advice the current document will inevitably have been changed in that time.

So having to output HTML text to a "jumbled" export is not good form. This is all saved electronically, but PDF's are much easier. Comment by Roger posted on on 18 July Excellent post Neil and I agree with you about the 'ingrained print culture and outdated content production processes. Comment by Neil Williams posted on on 24 July Thanks for your comment, Roger. Comment by Nathan Dolan posted on on 18 July I agree with most of what you have said here with respect to using HTML for content delivery, and many services especailly gov.

PDF is the de-facto standard for electronically signed documentation. HTML looks different on different devices and browsers today, let alone in 25 years. I have to disagree with you strongly here Neil. Saving as HTML is a terrible idea. Anything saved is potentially broken the moment your web session expires, because it typically doesn't embed content; it links to it.

Even for basic static content, the sands will shift over time links changing and such like. HTML that renders now may well not render tomorrow. This is why very few users would ever save as HTML in my experience. For most users, this sucks less than saving as HTML, so they do this. Is your June bank statement out of date because it's now July.

Especially legally significant ones.

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You just need to tag the structure. This is entirely analogous to HTML. HTML is great for but sucks for documents. PDF sucks for content but is great for important documents. For important documents, services should create proper archival, accessible tagged PDF documents, ideally signed with a verifiable by a TA corporate signature using PAdES. Hi Nathan, Thanks for your well-reasoned comment!

Links can and do change, we try to avoid this by using redirects wherever possible, but the same is true of links from PDFs too. As it stands, that method preserves the words and hierarchy of a page, rather than the decorative elements. There are also more variables in both the software used by the producers, and the readers. Taking the time to make them properly accessible and test does just that. Our publishing software is more of a controlled environment, so we have a greater chance of making sure our HTML pages are accessible to all.

Comment by Josh Levett posted on on 18 July It makes the PDF editions of documents look like the preferred version as they get the official-looking cover preview. In addition - could the GOV.

Comment by Pete Hewitt posted on on 18 July Really interesting comments on some of the potential pitfalls and how to fix them but this is definitely the way to go. Is it essentially the same as a normal web page editing screen or can it suck content in from Word or such like and format from there? As Higher Ed is another guilty party when it comes to endless PDFs this is something we'll need to tackle in the near future but working out the exact workflow will be a challenge. Comment by Jason Rogers posted on on 18 July Capturing content for use offline is more or less impossible.

UK creates would be a first step. Remember that sometimes people are not online - and this is way more often then you might think. Many, many people still prefer the printed page. They may even print documents to read long form to avoid the problems of extended screen use. UK does nothing to address this - trying to print the html pages results in comically large text with no attempt to format content in page form.

It also wastes reams of paper. The ethos for the site seems to focus on accessibility first - whilst forgetting just how unusable this can make content.

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Text size way is too big - this hampers readability rather than improving accessibility. Better yet, have a choice of style sheets to render the content at normal size rather than like an infants reading book. HTML, and worse, coupled with poor design choices like here, is nowhere near this level The PDF haters need to think about why people find them so useful. There are definitely times when paper is best, and there is a place for PDFs where there is a proper reason for them we only listed the common ones.

We have a responsibility to make GOV. UK available for everyone, and we work towards making it accessible for the greatest number of people. Large text is easier to read, but does require more scrolling. On balance, it helps more people than it hinders. Comment by Harry Lund posted on on 17 July It's quite cumbersome to work through an intermediary on a document undergoing frequent revisions, so people tend to wait until the final version is ready before looking into creating an HTML version - at which point you can be timed out, so just go with the easy PDF version.

I'd love to see lots more people trained up to be publishers. And indeed I've been trying to sign up for the training myself, but have been told no courses are currently planned. Comment by Neil Williams posted on on 17 July Thank you for all of these comments. I agree with many of the pro-PDF points being made here. They have their uses, and where that's the case we would recommend publishing both in HTML and PDF and we will at some point add a feature that happen automatically from our publishing software.

The problems come when PDF is the only format on offer - that's the behaviour I would love to confine to history. Agree also with points on version control. I should have made it clear in my post that GOV. UK has features to track versions of HTML content, through the 'page history' at the foot of each page which includes notes about what has changed.

We store the entire content of all past versions of HTML pages in our database and intend in future to make that whole rich history available through our API. The same is not true of PDFs, which can be overwritten using the same file name, without retaining history of changes other than by comparison with offline copies. Comment by David Tallan posted on on 19 July We are starting to hear more and more frequently from librarians and archivists who are concerned about the long term impacts of this in terms of preserving the government record.

They share the concerns that Nathan raised above that "HTML is not in any way a long-term archival format. What is GOV.

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Budget : This entry includes revenues, expenditures, and capital expenditures. YoungStar participants can benefit from a variety of training and development services to help them achieve their goals. Please check our site map , search feature, or our site navigation on the left to locate the information you seek. They relate the number of individuals that are likely to be economically "dependent" on the support of others. For those countries without available data, languages are listed in rank order based on prevalence, starting with the most-spoken language. Economy - overview : This entry briefly describes the type of economy, including the degree of market orientation, the level of economic development, the most important natural resources, and the unique areas of specialization. Independence : For most countries, this entry gives the date that sovereignty was achieved and from which nation, empire, or trusteeship.

UK doing to support long term preservation of the record? Is the assumption that everything will always be accessible to researchers and scholars of the future through the current platform or its descendants? Or are materials regularly copied for long term preservation elsewhere? If the latter, do you find HTML a challenge for that? Comment by R K Hayden posted on on 26 July As noted by others, PDFs are good for reading offline.

And by offline, I still mean on-screen, not on paper. For documents that if published as html would be spread over many html pages, a single PDF file also provides an easily searchable document. You should be providing users with the option to access documents in a range of open formats. They're only not designed for reading on screens because the designers of the documents have chosen to make them so. Whilst it is true that, as you say, "A PDF document that was created for offline use will not suit the context of the web and is likely to result in a poor user experience. Comment by Ian Taylor posted on on 17 July Our company did the same thing.

However, it has taken away one crucial feature that PDFs support: offline reading. Until you address this problem you have to accept that you've removed one route to accessing your material. Printing multiple web pages to PDFs hardly solves this, as you're assuming the user could collect all the material they need before they go offline. So yes, PDFs have their disadvantages but like many content and technology providers, your decision is based on convenience to yourself, and not the user. Comment by Adrian Barker posted on on 17 July From a user perspective, pdfs are often a lot easier and more convenient, particularly for longer 'published documents'.

Slow internet connections can slow down reading html. A well designed pdf can have good navigation. For offline viewing, saving web pages with multiple small files can be a pain. Shouldn't there be good, clear version-control information easily accessible on both html and pdf? Clearly html is appropriate for most web content but sometimes a pdf is better from the user point of view. For reading on other devices, why not consider other formats like epub though there are problems with non-text. Comment by John Norman posted on on 17 July My perspective as an end-user is that I have no particular interest in PDF per se, but I do want to be able to capture the state of a web page at a particular time especially if I am acting on the advice of that web page.

So I would urge you to continue to improve the printability of pages, which has the side effect of allowing many users to create PDFs from the print dialogue. I checked this page and things are definitely improving. Print margins may be an issue still. Comment by Andy posted on on 16 July Bad idea. Version control is essential for government documents and official forms, which you can't do easily in HTML. PDFs print far better too. Comment by James posted on on 16 July Maybe people don't remember the time when all the world required Microsoft Word Documents.

PDF was the thing that broke that monopoly. PDFs arn't perfect but they provide a way of publishing something and people being able to actually have a copy of that information. Comment by Cyril Randles posted on on 16 July Many of your arguments for html seem to be based on your own needs for data and analysis. As a user I would like to be able download a time stamped version which is readable as a single document. I would be happy to have a rubric built in to such a version which gives a creation date and version and a warning that updates may have taken place since the download.

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For legislation and regulations the ability to extract a version which is valid at a particular date would be valuable. Comment by Paul Driver posted on on 16 July Why the new EU rules coming in next year are providing them with a fairly broad exemption is beyond comprehension. Comment by Abdurrehman posted on on 16 July Open Government Data standards are on average still below 3 star in UK due to much of the data not being machine readable or understandable, to do so one has to put massive manual labour to extract information out of encrypted files like pdfs.

Because data is collected with a space of microseconds it's almost outrageous to rely on an offline copy of it. I think there's still a lot to cover our final destination is not pdf or html its to be machine readable in the context of web 2. Comment by Steve Messer posted on on 28 November Comment by Paul Bradley posted on on 16 July Similar issues exist in the higher education world where PDFs quietly rust away in their tens of thousands across hundreds or thousands of sites and micro-sites.

Two reasons PDFs persist in higher education are a a belief that they deliver a better user experience for "long documents" - that is multi-thousand word rules, regulations and reports and b professionally formatted prospectuses, reports and the like, offer a user experience that HTML can't. Comment by Howard Pang posted on on 16 July Comment by George Davies posted on on 16 July Just as long as you leave the ability to consolidate all the many and various chapters of the huge documents that you are publishing this way into a single version for someone who still likes to read a BOOK.

Comment by Kenneth Levinski posted on on 16 July Version control is the biggest hurdle I see. I find that users have great satisfaction in knowing that "this copy of the document hasn't changed since I last saw it". It does have a metadata page with that information, but you have to search for it from the publications home page. The metadata page has a change log, but no diff and no way to download the older version.

Comment by Adrian Hallchurch posted on on 16 July Most of the content I receive is either in pdf or Word - what would be really useful would be a simple reference guide for officials to use to ensure that they produce content that is easily converted to html for example, explains heading hieararchies, and limiting factors such as not including text tables.

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Comment by Clive Lever posted on on 16 July All of this should also apply to content on local government websites. It is worth sharing it with the LGA. Comment by Kenneth Tombs posted on on 16 July As someone with a very long standing interest in this HTML is perfect for delivering content online. It is diabolical to work with offline and there are many circumstances where a single 'record' entity is still required. Unless its printing to a PDF!

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Comment by Thomas Edwards posted on on 16 July Comment by John posted on on 16 July Your browser of choice is the software that reads HTML. HTML by itself is not viewable as intended if you open the html file in software that doesn't support it Comment by Kenneth Johnson posted on on 17 July Comment by paul posted on on 17 July HTML requires software to read too, just that every modern puter comes with the software pre-installed. Comment by Matthew A posted on on 17 July HTML requires software to be read.