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3.2 Pros and cons of LaTeX2HTML

The features provided with the html.sty style allow one LATEX source file to specify a technical document appropriately for publication either

  1. as a single .ps file, using either LATEX2e and dvips, or
  2. as a single .pdf file, using pdflatex, or
  3. as an HTML file cluster, or web, using LATEX2HTML.

or as an appropriate combination of these.

The document-structuring features of LATEX provide a very simple way to create, manage and update complex HTML webs with large numbers of internal navigation links, while also ensuring that its contents can be printed in high-quality format from a single file. Authors who are already familiar with LATEX may therefore find it particularly attractive to use LATEX2HTML for website management, as it automates the updating of navigation features. (Some large-scale documentation web sites have been built using LATEX2HTML rather than commercial web management packages, for this very reason).

I have added some NRAO-specific options to LATEX2HTML that provide for automatic generation of NRAO-standard .shtml web pages from LATEX source, so that the NRAO version of LATEX2HTML is particularly well suited as a tool for managing longer documents on the NRAO web site.

A minor benefit of using html.sty with pdflatex is that html.sty includes the hyperref utility so that the .pdf file can provide active links to other documents, whether or not you wish also to create a full-fledged HTML web from it using LATEX2HTML.

Early versions of LATEX2HTML stumbled on some large documents and the output with all settings defaulted was ugly. The 2K.1beta distribution is more robust and the package is now being developed and documented by an open-source working group led by Ross Moore at McQuarie University in Australia. The documentation is comprehensive (although it lags behind the current version). There is an archived email forum for discussing bugs and development issues, as well as for free (but often well-informed!) help from other users of the package.

With a little care, modern versions of the LATEX2HTML converter can produce very usable HTML webs from intricate technical documents. A few limitations must be lived with, however:

  • The converter assumes that the source uses standard LATEX2$e$ syntax, so legacy documents may need to be worked over before they can be used with LATEX2HTML. This can become onerous for large documents written with clever, but non-standard, TEX macros;
  • The use of inlined images to represent symbols and equations means that the HTML output is neither fully resizable nor fully searchable. The results can look ugly in some browser setups, but they are acceptable (and even attractive) under a wide range of circumstances.

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