Monday, January 12, 2015

D&D: New Basic Rules Web Site, But No New PDFs

So, the buzz this week is that Wizard of the Coast quietly launched a hypertext version of the Player's Basic Rules for 5th Edition.

It's a fairly straight forward reading of the text with some Javascript controls for chapter and section navigation. It's a clean interface and relatively easy to navigate. It's a bit mono-chromatic, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.

It does, however, leave on gigantic question in my mind:

Why didn't they spend some of that time improving the PDFs?

Since their release, people have been asking
  1. Where is the table of contents? 
  2. Where is the index?
  3. Where is the corrected alphabetization of the monster list? (i.e. - Young Green Dragon should be under "D", not "Y").
  4. Why isn't the Hoard of the Dragon Queen PDF content merged with DM's PDF yet?

I can't understand the priorities here. The time it took to "pretty up" the rules for layout on the web could have been better spent (or at least co-prioritized) with prettying up the rules in the PDF releases.

I can forgive the lack of index. For a living document, the upkeep on an index can be a pain. Given that PDFs are searchable, it's a nice to have, but not strictly necessary (though it would help with printed copies). The lack of a table of contents is not really forgivable at this point. It doesn't even take that long to set up the hot links in an Acrobat document. Insert a new page 2 and voila.

At least they added PDF bookmarks in the last revision, but PDF booksmarks don't help you if you are printing via Lulu (or on your home printer, for that matter).

What do you think? Am I hand-wringing over minor issues?

Perhaps... However, the addition of a table of content is only about 2 to 4 hours worth of work at most for a layout designer.

Hell, I could do it, given the InDesign files and style sheet examples.

Fixing the alphabetization and including the HotDQ content may take a couple days, but not much more than that, if anything. Since we don't expect a lot of editing for any major releases coming out soon, what the heck else do they have to work on right now?

When it comes to utility, all the players I know would be using the PDF on their tablets. The web version is a nice-to-have, but with the occasional lack of wifi and the much more search-friendly format of a PDF, why isn't updating the PDFs more important, if not as important, as the web version?

It's just another case of WotC not paying attention to the digital needs of their customers.

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