Saturday, May 10, 2008


Is it just me, or perhaps all of us get this stepped-in-a-pile-of-dog-poop feeling every once in a while whenever we click on a link and it turns out to be a PDF file?

I mean, isn't it nice whenever web site creators think about us, users, and instead of expected and nicely formatted web pages we get awarded by this wonderful clunky, sluggish Adobe PDF plugin that hijacks our browsers, not giving a rat's ass about our preferences for hotkeys, font sizes, having its own idea how to scroll, zoom and search? At least Linux users don't have to suffer from Adobe's bad-ass PDF software: Gnome/KDE come with much nicer, lightning-fast PDF readers that don't feel like they came from Mars. I am using Evince and it's nice: I actually don't mind PDFs anymore.

What's interesting is that I can't even think of a single case whenever the choice of PDF was justified: nope, same shit every time: text with pictures. Yep, something HTML isn't capable of.

Moreover, here is a new kid on the block, now we all need to stare at a flash plugin to get the same text-with-pictures experience. Welcome to Web 2.0 fellas.

Scribd is nice as a tool for being able not to care about document format, and I wish they'd allow me to simply view every uploaded document as a proper HTML (as every user would expect), but it is barely usable trapped in Flash: the browser's search doesn't work and even scrolling is painful, while you've got to scroll a lot because you're looking at a document through tiny little hole. Someone joked that using scribd is like a watching a live video of a printed document, except you can tell an operator to move the camera to the next page. But they do allow you to download a document as PDF, which is nice - I can read it in Evince, so Scribd gets my vote: check it out!

Why do content publishers believe that we somehow are dying to print their documents? Come on, what else PDF is good for? Dudes, please stick to HTML. It's gotten a lot nicer since 96. And no, I won't be printing or keeping a copy of your booklet/article/whitepaper, but for those five people who will, just have small but gorgeous links on a side: "print" and "PDF", ok? Thank you.