RTF Redux

Last week I asked for feedback on the necessity for Blackstone reporting to support RTF (a file format primarily used with Microsoft Word). There were over 40 responses to that entry (and some even agreed with each other).
To summarize the responses …
Those that want RTF support do so primarily because they want to create editable documents (maybe using programmatic processing to build a basic document, and then allowing tweaking before final printing). The other reasons given included “that is what the customer wants”, and the feeling that RTF files are lighter weight than are PDF.
Those who do not see the need for RTF seem happier with PDF. The primary reasons given are that it is ubiquitous (and somewhat of a standard), and that PDF files can be locked (editing can be prevented).
So, when all is said and done, the biggest real distinction seems to be the editabilty of the files. PDF is intended to be a printable format (not really an editable one), whereas RTF is intended to be used with word processor documents (editable by its very definition). And while the idea of allowing users to edit documents makes me nervous (the idealist in me would rather they fill in some form so that what gets generated is exactly what they want, otherwise you have no reproducibility or accountability, and a real likelihood of lost edits) … I do accept and appreciate this distinction. There really are two very different use cases.
No, I am not saying that we’ll support RTF, nor am I saying that we won’t. But you have given us lots of invaluable feedback with which to debate and prioritize the request, and will we definitely do so shortly.

One response to “RTF Redux”

  1. Anj Avatar

    I understand the discontented feeling of providing editable output. I agree completely. However, to give you a key use case for the functionality:
    My company is an insurance carrier. Various independent agents/brokers will submit information to us, and we generate a quotation for insurance coverage. The actual policyholders deal with the agents almost exclusively. Hence, we provide these quotes in an RTF format, so that these agents can incorporate them into their own documents, add their own corporate branding and additional information.

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