I strongly disagree.

@ksynwa
810M

As an owner of an ebook-reader I second this motion

Like the article says, only useful for print.

@lnxprcy
610M

Am I the only one that finds PDFs great?

@abbenm
7
edit-2
10M

All I want out of a doc is for text to remain in a static position in a document so it feels ‘solid’ like a real page that’s consistent with intended formatting of whoever produced it. I feel like I only reliably get that with a PDF.

Epub and html and docs reflow, have different default fonts and spacing, and feel like your text is water spilled across a countertop more than something intentionally designed that you can trust to remain where it is. With docs your cursor changes depending on the context and you have layers of menu items that load that assume you want to either edit or customize things. Depending on what program you use for HTML it will make web-browsing related assumptions that shape your experience.

I don’t care for the file format of PDFs, but I like the idea that you have a page that was intended to be viewed a certain way and can be rendered that way, so you don’t have to american ninja warrior your way through viewing settings and fonts and spacing and customization to get things just right.

Dreeg Ocedam
810M

This rigidity is actually the problem with PDF, it makes them unsuited for anything but printing. Trying to read a PDF that was intended to be printed in A4 format on a smartphone is an absolute pain. One of the best selling point of Epub is that you can change the font size etc… This is absolutely necessary to make ebooks readable on a small device. When it comes to websites with mainly text content, I almost always use firefox’s reader mode, which allows me to set the font size, as well as using a dark mode.

PDF gives absolutely zero control to the user on how they should be displayed.

@abbenm
410M

Oh don’t get me wrong. All of my pirated 100% legally purchased ebooks are Epub, and the fact that PDF is an adobe product is enough for me to want an alternative. I’ve just found that customization options with Epubs jostle things around and make them weird in some cases and it would be nice to know that there’s an intended experience of the text that stays consistent across devices.

Dreeg Ocedam
210M

On small devices, PDF are super hard to read, you basically need to zoom in to read anything, like you would on an image. On ebooks this is super annoying because their screens are not as reactive as a smartphone screen.

Epub on the other hand is super comfy for the user.

@lnxprcy
210M

That is understandable, but I guess it is just preference for me. I do love epubs too, just not for everything.

We should just switch over to EPUB.

@jsgohac
410M

Hmm … back in the days of adobe acrobat pdfs were web cancer, but these days they seem pretty OK. Being able to convert on command line between docx/odt, html, markdown and pdf is pretty useful.

If pdf UX on smartphones is not great, is that really a pdf problem or a viewer issue?

Ephera
410M

PDF Viewers can definitely do a lot of things with PDFs, e.g.:

  • auto-trim the margins
  • if it’s a multi-column PDF, put the columns beneath each other
  • switch to landscape mode
  • try to extract the text and reflow it.

By now, I’ve seen all of these features somewhere, but I’ve never seen them applied automatically and so it always requires a bit of faffing around until I have a reasonable viewing experience. And in particular images are often a problem.

What I could maybe see as a solution for this, would be a “Mobile First”-approach like in UX design, i.e. we would make PDFs that are not suitable for full pages, but rather for quarter pages (so that they fit on a phone screen), and then on the desktop, you should be able to either just piece them together (two-column seems to be a popular layout for scientific papers already), or reflow them with less trouble, because the single-column layout makes it easy to figure out where certain images belong.

Now we just need the whole industry to switch over, which of course should be no problem.

@cheer
4
edit-2
10M

The problem is that pdf wasn’t really designed to be modified in this way, if at all–at least according to my understanding. These problems would be alleviated if people switched to a different, more modular format, e.g. epub, and improved that rather than continue to use pdf in this way.

Edit: To add, pdfs are great for printing, but very annoying to work with on desktop–Windows especially–or edit.

@jsgohac
2
edit-2
10M

Brilliant proposal to leverage existing capabilities and a mobile first mantra designers already know.

I have a folder with 160 random pdfs with following count of producersI guess hitting up Adobe first with a feature request might be a starting point.

[(‘Adobe’, 39), (‘cairo’, 16), (‘Recoded’, 14), (‘ABBYY’, 10), (‘LibreOffice’, 8), (‘Skia/PDF’, 6), (‘GPL’, 6), (‘Microsoft®’, 6), (‘calibre’, 6), (‘Qt’, 5), (‘Mac’, 5), (‘imagemagick. org’, 4), (‘OpenOffice .org’, 4), (‘Producer,’, 4), (‘iText’, 2), (‘iText®’, 2), (‘xdvipdfmx’, 2), (‘pdfTeX-1.40.17’, 2), (‘iOS’, 2), (‘iPhone’, 1), (‘PDFlib’, 1), (‘PDFsharp’, 1), (‘pdfTeX-0.13d’, 1), (‘CVISION’, 1), (‘BnF’, 1), (‘Prince’, 1), (‘pdfTeX-1.40.19’, 1), (‘Google’, 1), (‘freepdfconvert. com’, 1), (‘PDFium’, 1), (‘mPDF’, 1), (‘Some’, 1), (‘AFPL’, 1), (‘KONICA’, 1), (‘QuarkXPress®’, 1), (‘Nitro’, 1), (‘Python’, 1)]

Future Me
310M

people often use PDF when they ideally would use HTML

IMHO, this is the central argument. It’s not talking about mobi at all.

@Echedenyan
110M

Just use DJVU for static content.

@Echedenyan
110M

For the issue of online viewing I would not deny using some XML (or XHTML but in this case it is the same) based format.

Ephera
1
edit-2
10M

My last experience with exporting HTML from an office suite wasn’t particularly responsive, so I’m not sure, if changing the format will fix the problem. It’s just not trivial to design something in a responsive way.

html is the only way, the most wuwei way to achieve the greatest

@wraptile
banned
-310M

Question: if you’re going to such trouble to harden your phone, why not just root it?

@pavot
5
edit-2
10d

deleted by creator

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