Jan Martinek: words && bytes
interested in understanding

PDF is not the future

June 5, 2015

When publishing an article online these days, you go for a HTML page for the “not-so-serious-stuff” or for a downloadable PDF when it comes to the “oh-gosh-serious-stuff“. You want control over the result and PDF is rock-solid. Or is it?

Have you read a PDF on a Kindle or small tablet? Users tend to display it on the sideways rotated device, always viewing only a part of a page. Reader’s flow of the text changes considerably even though the file looks similarly. (Even better when the article is set in two columns.)

Have you printed a PDF file? You may have noticed that the format of the paper is not the same as it was in the journal. Sometimes we even print two pages on single paper and facing pages may end up not being next to each other when printed at home/work, adding to confusion.

Charts and images do not display well anymore when printed at lower resolution – frequently those even get deliberately blurry in order to reduce the size of the PDF file. Readers on tablets grow angry zooming in and out, readers on paper grind their teeth.

PDF ensures that nothing goes wrong on the way from the typesetter’s office to the printer (mostly). And that’s all. We need better solutions for the web (hint: it’s the native web).