Wednesday, June 3, 2009

PDF Files on the Web

Imagine you are on the Internet, browsing away and enjoying yourself. You come to a place where the web page offers you a PDF file. BTW, PDF stands for Portable Document Format, an invention of a company with the name Adobe. Years ago there was only one program around to show the contents of PDF files, the Adobe Reader. That situation has changed massively; we have various good PDF readers available. Most of them are smaller than Adobe Reader, much faster and many good ones are free. On top of that eventual errors or shortcomings usually get corrected MUCH faster than Adobe does it. You can read more about that here.

If you want to read that piece of documentation you either get to see the document and all is hunky dory. But on some web sites you get an idiotic error message to the effect that the system can not find Adobe Reader and you should install it. Bummer!

You happen to be on a very dumb programmed web site. Even HP does that if you want a manual from their support site.

What a web site should do is send the PDF file to the browser who then shows it to you in whatever PDF Reader you have installed on your computer. You should have a good one installed! See the article I linked to above and below.

What your web site actually tries to do is to directly load Acrobat Reader with the PDF file. That is nonsense and only understandable in a historic context; way back when there were no alternatives. There are plenty of reasons to shun Adobe Acrobat Reader. I wrote here about recent ones.

Here is what you can do to circumvent this problem:
  1. Right click on the link to the PDF file.
  2. Click on Save Link As...
  3. Navigate to a location you know and can find again.
  4. Check the file name and amend it if required.
  5. Click on OK (or Save?).
  6. Navigate to the file and double click it.

This sounds more difficult than it is but it is the secure way - and you have the document on your computer.

As usual I welcome comments and suggestions right here in the blog.

Thank you in advance.

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