I've been trying it.
Seems to work.
Can be a bit slow.
Thumbs up for avoiding Adobe.
Mozilla's Firefox web browser now includes a built-in PDF viewer - allowing users to bin plugins from Adobe and other developers. The move to run third-party PDF file readers out of town comes after security holes were discovered in closed-source add-ons from FoxIt and Adobe. The new built-in document viewer is open source, …
Yep, since the Foxit issue I've been opening PDF's in Acrobat. Nice to have a light viewer back in the browser, and (naive as this may seem) I trust Mozilla's approach to security much more than Adobe or the maker of a third party reader.
Also, no speed issues at this end (so far).
Apple's desktops have long since had native PDF ability. Since 10.2 i think.
Because of this, not only can you view pdf files with just the system tools, but also makes it very easy for any app to render a pdf doc - hence Safari has been displaying PDFs from the web for years without needing to install a plugin. A nice side effect is that because it's part of the system, any application on a Mac that uses the default Print dialog should be able to print directly to a PDF document instead of a printer.
So i assume the same Quartz code that is baked into OS X was also included in iOS from the start as well.
The boring historical version is that PostScript was the standard for high end printers so several vendors built desktop platforms around PostScript as the description language for drawing on-screen rather than rolling their own versions of QuickDraw or GDI or whatever — Sun was one (with NeWS), Next Computer was another. PostScript is a full programming language* and when adapting NextStep into OS X Apple looked at the licensing fees for the implementation NextStep had used and decided instead to keep the same primitive drawing semantics but do away with the language.
Separately, over at Adobe they designed PDF as a record of the output of a PostScript program (so, to spend storage in order to save on complexity, at least initially). So PDF also inherits the same primitive drawing semantics as PostScript.
That made it easy for Apple to add PDF rendering and print to PDF to its operating system and all applications just work. There's no translation layer whatsoever, the drawing operations are just serialised and stored or deserialised and performed. As iOS is a close relative of OS X, with exactly the same graphics operations and frameworks, the same stuff just naturally carried over.
The same is not true of Windows because even once they were looking to do something beyond the GDI Microsoft insisted on inventing its own document format in XPS and tied WPF, its modern drawing framework, around that.
(*) trivia: the original LaserWriter — a key component in the early desktop publishing revolution — had a CPU 50% faster than the Mac it was meant to be attached to because it had to do all that high resolution rasterising.
Do any websites use WMP? Given it's not supported on Linux or Mac (or at least not without uncommon extras) I'd be very surprised.
And I disabled Flash years ago, and haven't missed it at all. Probably in large part as a result of the iPad, most sites seem to have got rid of flash now.
So hurray, no plugins required!
I find more frustrating that some sites automatically trigger PDF loading in the browser, and others force you to download. I use Chrome and the PDF integration is really good since I don't have to both downloading files.
I imagine this being a new project, it will be worse than Adobe's version for now but if they have drawn a line in the sand, it will inevitably improve if people report bugs. Not totally convinced JS is the right tool for the job though personally; on a mobile device CPU is a precious resource.
I just tried the PDF viewer there and while it works the print functionality is a bit crap. Printing appears to render a lossy jpeg snapshot of the page into an HTML page with headers and footers and the whole lot is printed. The font kerning also looks iffy with characters not properly spaced. I hope that future versions improve on this.
So while it's okay at a pinch to use it's no substitute for a proper PDF viewer. I switched back to the Adobe plugin from the Applications options almost immediately.
Hmm. That kind of kills it really. PDFs are meant to represent actual "documents" so quite often you need to print them. When you print a PDF it should print exactly as laid out in the PDF - that's one of their major advantages compared with HTML. Not being able to print them properly kind of kills the whole point of PDF. Especially as FF is bad enough at printing web pages - I often get better results telling FF to print to a PDF then printing that from Reader...
Chrome's PDF printing is also lousy.
"PDFs are meant to represent actual "documents" so quite often you need to print them. "
No Tom, the point in having them electronic is that you DON'T have to print them. There are only 2 reasons why you'd print something these days, one if to sign it for a company who don't understand technology, and the other is to send it to someone who doesn't understand technology.
That someone is usually working in the public sector.
No, I'm a technical architect and part of my role involves helping companies reduce their reliance on paper. If you can think of more reasons to print a PDF from a web page then go ahead, but don't accuse me of being a student just because you can't work out ways to stop people printing PDFs from the internet in your organisation.
I feel I need to spell this out to you so I will. I didn't say anything about a paperless office, or reducing printing as a whole. I just said that there are only 2 reasons to print a PDF from the internet and I stand by that.
I also happen to know lots of ways to reduce overall printing in organisations, not just PDFs, as well as the regulations people often misquote as requiring a paper copy or a signature. Unfortunately for smug forum posters like yourself, that's not what we're talking about here but I'd be glad to help you out if the users your helpdesk supports (you must work on 1st or 2nd line to be so jaded right?) insist on printing everything.
I can give you three very good reasons for printing a document that you haven't mentioned:
One, a print copy, once made, cannot be modified or altered. The problem with electronic documents is that they can be readily altered and the change erased to suit someone's agenda - for example, to facilitate corruption, fraud or theft, or to rewrite history. This is why many companies (including ours) still maintain filing cabinets with paper records of all meeting minutes, quotes, invoices, and transactions.
Two, a paper record is human-readable without requiring any machine or power to display it. In the event of a disaster, or even a protracted power outage, paper records can be retrieved, read and acted on even if there's no power for recharging phone or tablet batteries, or running PCs.
Three, a paper record does not rely on document or media formats that may quickly become obsolete or unreadable. Many records have been lost because they were stored on things like 8" floppy disks, which you can no longer obtain drives for, or in cryptic 70s and 80s file formats that modern spreadsheets and word processors cannot read.
A paper record has a permanence that cannot be contested in the way an electronic document can. This is why law courts, for one thing, want everything on paper. If, in a trial, you were to try to hand up a tablet with a Word doc on it, the judge would throw it at you. They want solid paper records than can be filed, retained, and retrieved without question or difficulty.
In the end, it's not about "not understanding technology." It's about understanding the limitations of technology and using it in its place, just as we need to understand that paper copy also has its place and purpose, and for the reasons posited above, will continue to do so for a long time to come.
I'm not just being contrary here. Lusty didn't mention anything about a paperless office and neither did I, nor did I state or insinuate that he had. As for documents specifically being "from the internet", how does that invalidate my argument? My first point in particular has validity here, since documents on a website can and do change frequently, so printing one out as it was on such-and-such a date is prima facie proof that this was what the document stated on that date. This is especially true of things like ToS and EULA documents where a print copy made before an online change could make or break a court case.
Lusty stated that he could think of only two reasons for printing a document, from the internet or otherwise. I added three more reasons to explain why people print out documents. So no, I didn't just feel like disagreeing. I simply articulated the arguments that were most likely to be behind the downvotes he got (none of which are mine, BTW.)
Unfortunately all three of your reasons still rest on someone not understanding technology. It's perfectly feasible to take a copy and lock it from being changed in electronic form. Using e-reader style technology will give you a month to get the power back on, even though in reality power outages are generally fixed in minutes and are so local that you could take a bus accross town to recharge your laptop. Finally, PDF is nearly as old as ASCII text documents and it is unlikely to stop being supported any time soon. If you don't move your stuff from your old PC to your new one then there is just no helping you, but the rest of us managed the transition from floppy to zip to CD to DVD to portable hard drive to flash just fine and I see no reason we can't all continue that tradition. Some of us have even managed that with backup tape formats and SAN with business data on - customers would be pretty pissed if I switched off their old storage and told them the information was gone because it was locked to the old format!
Lusty, I had to give certificates to a load of kids at an event. Their little faces all lit up when they got them handed to them. I got them in a pdf (from the internet)
I also had to get a thousand fliers printed out, to go through doors. I'm not bad at designing them, but don't have the print capability. So I sent them to the printer in a pdf. Using, as you say, the internet.
What's your non-printing solution to these then?
Actually I do understand technology, better than you might think.
"Locking" electronics documents from being changed is simply not reliable or trustworthy, not now, not ever. There's not a DRM schema ever invented that hasn't been cracked. Ever heard the adage "What man can make, man can break?" There's no such thing as "uncrackable", and that means any electronic document can be untraceably altered, no matter how secure the DRM snake-oil purveyors claim the locking technique is. I know this because way back in the 80s I was a member of a well-known cracking crew and I've seen firsthand how these guys operate.
You obviously don't live in Australia, where power outages, while not that frequent, when they do occur can run to several hours. The longest one I experienced was nearly two days, during the floods in 2005. And travel across town to recharge my laptop? That wouldn't be necessary for paper records, would it? And even in a major natural disaster, paper records can be recovered a lot more readily. Even if they are fire- or flood-damaged, there's still a chance that some of the information can be recovered - which is not true of, say, a fire-damaged thumb drive.
I will grant that PDF is not likely to lose support any time soon, but as to old records being lost because of media and format issues, even with the most industrious record-keeping, archives can be forgotten until it's too late. Things turn up in basements and attics that were thought lost years ago and which could answer many unanswered questions. Yes, in most cases people will transfer data to new formats as they become available, but only if they know or remember that it's there. You know, PEBKAC - the human factor!
I'm not saying electronic storage is inferior to paper, or that every single thing should be printed out. I'm simply saying that both have their place and their uses.
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