So, IMO this is neat if it's new tech for reading PDFs and extracting data from them (and maybe leveraging current under-used features to store more machine-readable information), but bad if it's about introducing even more complexity into the PDF documents.
Perhaps 10 years from now we will have responsive PDFs, but I feel sorry for whatever damned soul is going to have to expand hard-coded limits in order to fit the new PDF specification text into a single PDF document.
It's a button you click to automatically make a fixed-layout PDF fluid and easier to read on mobile.
You'd still author the document the same way without considering multiple device sizes. When the PDF needs to be reproduced faithfully (printing) it would still appear as the creator intended.
I hate PDFs, but if I want to read a document I've stored in print fidelity from the 80s on my phone, Liquid is rock solid.
In the digital realm though, a PDF should also be accessible to screenreaders for the blind, people with sight problems (increased fonts, contrast), dyslexia, etc. Those already require alternative representations.
And of course nothing bad about having the best of both worlds! A format that is pixel perfect when you want it too, and adaptable for easier reading when you don't.
It does not sound like the goal is device-dependent rendering, though. This is exactly parallel to Reader Mode, which is a temporary user toggle. The goal of PDF is still to produce documents that mirror print-ready layouts, something that HTML has never really accomplished. Whether you want to consume the documents that way will now be up to you.
Say that to those who create PDF files for things that should be web pages. That behavior is not going to stop anytime soon.
(spoiler, most of them are HTML/CSS)
Epub is HTML and CSS bundled in a zip file following a specific directory tree layout and containing a few metadata files.
Epub 3 is HTML5.
Open LibreOffice, create a doc, save it as Epub, and unzip the file. See for yourself.
But this of course reminds us of the miserable UX we have come to accept from the "mobile web". In the beginning, mobile websites didn't exist, and you just zoomed. Now, it's practically impossible to view the desktop website from a phone at some URLs without jailbreaking your device (if it's iOS). The net effect has been a severe degradation of usability in the worst cases for a small improvement in aesthetics and speed in the best.
I truly hope that PDFs do not meet the same fate, and remain readable on mobile in the correct layout, with no in-document markers that force my iPhone to display it wrong. While that apparently hasn't been proposed here, I don't like even the risk of it being proposed.
Maybe put a link on the pdf for online ordering or finding locations, but I have no idea why the home page should be anything but a menu.
The point is that there are 30 years worth of existing, static, PDF documents - published as PDF for a potentially valid reason - which are frustrating to read on a mobile device.
A frictionless solution would be for Adobe to offer the AI as a web service that renders legacy PDF files as HTML.
I laugh now as I laughed back then.
I don't know if you've ever had the fun of writing a website using bootstrap and then having a client complain that the page layout changes (i.e. becomes responsive) when the window is resized. I've hit that a few times with things that need to go through audits/agency approvals and in those cases you can pull out some of the @media tags and call it a day.
Imagine having to make sure that liquid mode won't reflow a document that was signed off on by the FDA because there's a concern that the ISI (important safety instructions) box required to occupy 10% of real estate on that page might be shrunk to occupy 5%.
I agree this announcement is a lot less disruptive than the statement initially makes it look, but it's still going to have knock on effects.
It looks like the Liquid mode won't show up in the app if the device doesn't have Internet connection (kudos for graceful degradation here). Once you connect to the Internet and restart the app, you'll prompt to login to Adobe Document Cloud account to use this feature.
I tested a couple of PDFs and a lot of these files are showing "Liquid Mode isn't yet available for this file.", including: a Loan Estimation doc from LoanDepot, a PGE statement file, a Payment Notification from Nationwide.
It does work very well on https://www.politico.com/f/?id=00000174-abca-d59c-a174-ffde1.... Outline, concatenation of multi page sections, inline footnote reference are all working as expected.
If this works for more types of document that would be awesome.
Liquid mode is simply a tool to make it easier to consume PDF content on mobile devices. This is definitely a good thing especially since it is opt-in (you press a button to engage liquid mode in the reader).
Of course, it's Adobe's reader. So the chances that this will lead to even more mucking about with the format are pretty high.
Which hey, for me that's job security. Which is not to say I look forward to it...
But Liquid Mode, now with more machine learning, isn't those changes. It's just reader mode for PDF.
I'm also not sure why they are different from anything else when it comes to 'needing to consume them on mobile'.
PDF on a phone is unremitting pain. I'd rather muddle through on a laptop. I'll give this this a shot, it might help, and it can't hurt, since it's just a button you can push that says "make this thing legible, maybe".
The article doesn't say that. This is like Reader Mode in your browser. It presents the same content in a different way based on an understanding of the document structure. You don't need to use it.
What the writer wants to present is structured layout based on design. Sometimes that's what the reader wants to see, other times not. That's why websites aren't all flat text and browsers have reader modes, not the other way around.
To me it reads like this adds absolutely nothing to that which HTML has been already delivering for years.
But as a reader of essays and textbooks on a small tablet, let me tell you it's can be useful. Yeah, it's not elegant. It a clever technical solution to a real-world problem made of decades of path dependency.
You might call it a hack.
If this had been from some kid in his basement and not from a corporate press release (admittedly pompous, overselling and worrying privacy-wise), you would have cheer.
A couple of insights from those years:
PDF is popular because it fits the paper designer mindset and because Adobe InDesign is pretty much the standard in the publishing industry.
HTML is a much better format for the digital age. It's responsive, interactive, etc, but even today, the best way to produce HTML is by using a code editor.
Even if there was a good WYSIWYG tool, editorial designers come from the paper world and have a really hard time understanding the responsive model.
Many times I've fantasized about working on a tool made for designers to produce HTML, but it would be a ton of work and I don't really think there is a market for it. Many ebook formats are actually HTML, but I think the industry is getting by with conversion tools from Word. Most HTML content comes from blogs and journals which already have an established pipeline and don't need a general purpose HTML production solution. Education is the strongest use case, but most education companies are still rooted in paper and switching to interactive education is quite a leap.
A pdf file is a program that outputs pages you can display or print. There are no more restrictions to the format.
That’s why without some artificial intelligence you can’t edit or reflow the contents.
Where are the changes to the PDF format that will help other viewers understand hierarchy and relayout pages without Adobe's ML engine?
I do agree it's disappointing that they can't just process it locally though.
Better have an alternative that is controlled by one company. Shareholders like that. Think social media, ads, apps.
But it really makes you question the idea of putting things into PDF format in the first place.
Because at this point it may be that a significant majority of the time PDFs are read on screens.
So in my opinion it might make more sense for acedemic journals (for example) to standardize on a something like reStructuredText (which now supports LaTeX by default). Or maybe Markdown, or a subset of HTML.
Or maybe a standard eReader (Kindle-like) format.
Or just default to a tar.gz with the RST and supporting files in standard folders.
Then if they want to publish a print journal they can automatically format it for printing. If it doesn't look good enough sometimes then let the print journals use AI or manually typeset it (earn their money).
So anyway I wish Chrome and Firefox would get support for my new RST archive format.
Point being that PDF is getting a little obsolete.
PDFs are good for one thing only: Printing.
I wish academia would stop using PDF to distribute online, so their documents would be easier to parse!
Perhaps they should consider leaving PDF the fuck alone and reiterating to developers that HTML & CSS are the appropriate technologies for producing documents which must reflow based upon viewport dimensions.
They should start with a better prediction of the zoom level and single/continuous page rendering modes when opening a PDF document.
This is a bit ironic, since the USP of PDF has always been its ability to preserve individual presentations in a portable format, which made it also ideal for sharing and archiving non-traditional presentations of content.
I don’t see any way to improve tables in PDF. Most of the PDFs I deal with are invoices, statements, tabular reports.
As long as we’re on the topic of PDFs...what the heck is up with PDFs always asking if you want to save, even when you only opened them (no changes; using setting ‘Use only certified plug-ins’ & ‘do not show edit warnings’). Ridiculous.
That being said, this feels somewhat like Adobe will turn PDFs into a form of markdown where the parser is a (variable?) machine learning algorithm.
Done perfectly, the results could be great. Done badly and the results would be very painful.
Sounds like a way to extend vendor lock-in, as nobody else will be able to implement the same algorithm with any assurance of interoperability.
No Internet content should EVER be loaded by Adobe software by default. Ever. Their security history has clearly shown us that.
It is nice though.
I’m very skeptical but somehow intrigued.
I'm especially enraged at the PDF "forms" XFA or whatever that no software on this planet can open except Adobe Reader. And Adobe Reader even on macOS doesn't allow Print to PDF or something else to get a PDF in a "sane" format.
I have to use a fake printer to trick Adobe Reader about this! Incredible!
Another PDF issue, does anyone except Adobe make a good PDF malware remover (from inside the PDF file). PDF malware seems to be rare, but could be a big problem if it ever catches on.
> Saving a PDF file when printing is not supported. Instead, > choose File > Save.
Because Adobe went out of their way to prevent this to work.
1. AFAIK, there is no standard way to bundle a webpage containing images into a single file.
2. We have EPUB, and my experience using it has been horrible. Either the format is bad or somehow every single reader I've used sucks, and I've tried many (Foliate and the now defunct Readium Chrome extension are the ones that suck the less, but the experience is still much worse than reading a PDF)
At this point, solving the bundling problem of HTML (and using normal web browsers) seems like a better course of action than trying to use EPUB.
3. Text that always fills the width of the screen sucks if you're using a screen bigger than 10 inches.
Being able to coerce a document into a page whose border is clearly delimited (just like PDF readers do it) without having to resize windows is, in my opinion, an absolute necessity. Something like:
border: solid black;
Epub readers allow defining widths (or semi-equivalently: margins) but they always look bad because there isn't a visual boundary.
There’s mhtml, though I can’t speak to how well supported it is.