It’s fairly commonplace to think of PDF as a format for official or reference documents, or perhaps as a simple way to share content without worrying about whether end-users have the software to view it.
It’s also fairly commonplace to think of PDFs as nothing but dumb pages, with no zippy interactive features or capabilities. This view is reinforced by sloppy implementations such as Apple’s Preview (Steve Jobs should take a note) and urban myths about Reader’s sloth.
PDFs files are easy to create and they’re ubiquitous. Adobe’s free Reader offers tremendous power to document authors; especially those with limited technical skills or budgets. Far more than HTML and Flash, PDF bring sophisticated rich-media content within reach of almost any author.
- Want a full-screen experience? It’s a setting in Acrobat’s “Document Properties” dialog. (Control-D (Command-D on the Mac).
- Want to add a movie? Take a look under the “Tools” menu for “Multimedia”.
- Want bookmarks for navigation? Try a Control-B (Command-B on the Mac).
Count on these facts to be missed by the self-appointed guardians of content, who routinely mistake poor design choices for the format itself.
If you have a bad experience with a PDF, the chances are very, very high that the fault lies with the author (and/or preparer), and has little or nothing to do with the choice to use PDF.
There, that wasn’t so hard, was it?