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  1. #1
    SitePoint Zealot NZ Joe's Avatar
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    How many people have acrobat reader?

    Hi,

    I am looking after a web site where a large proportion of the site's documents are PDFs. I was wanting to find out how many people (proportionally) have acrobat reader. Does anybody know? I have asked at the adobe web site but have not yet had an answer. I don't like the fact that we use PDFs but they were already there when I took over the job.

    Joe
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  2. #2
    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    there are generally 3 plugins you can assume everyone has.

    1. Acrobat Reader
    2. Flash
    3. Quicktime (or the equivalent)
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  3. #3
    Team SitePoint AlexW's Avatar
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    I think the percentages of installed users was around 60-70% last time I saw.

    I like it, but I think it's best used as a secondary method of providing information to your users, rather than the frontline service. It's great for allowing your users to archive material on their local drives, and it's portability is good, but it has quite a few drawbacks too.

    - 30-40% of users don't have Reader and there's a certain amount of arogance in expecting users to download it just to read your content.
    - It's a pretty big download for a dial-up, 3-4M if I remember rightly. Flash has the highest market penetration (+90%) mainly because it's only about 200k.
    - I don't know why, but Reader seems to require a lot of juice to run for a program that just displays text, which is a problem for older systems.
    - Few people seem to know how to optimize their PDFs very well, meaning often fairly plain 5 page documents clock in at 400-500k, where the wquivalent HTML might have bee less than 100K.

    Anyway, I'm with you. PDF a nice accessory to offer your users, but it isn't a good mainstay.
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  4. #4
    SitePoint Zealot NZ Joe's Avatar
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    Thanks for that feedback. I think that 60-70% is not acceptable enough for the our needs.
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  5. #5
    ********* Addict jaiem's Avatar
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    I think you need to consider the advantage of PDF over the numbers of installed base.

    PDF files are displayed (and usually printed) in the same format on any machine that can read them. Thus formatting and layout issues on different platforms aren't an issue.
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  6. #6
    We are vigilant icehousedesigns's Avatar
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    I have it..but I hate using it.

    Oh no not another PDF doc!

  7. #7
    SitePoint Zealot NZ Joe's Avatar
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    The important thing with our site is accessibility and content, not how pretty it looks. Print layout is not a problem.
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  8. #8
    SitePoint Addict Seer's Avatar
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    I have it as well, but I think they are quite annoying and a pain to navigate as compared to a standard page. What I dislike most are the "Click for info" links that don't tell you it's a PDF. I think there should always be something like "Click for more info - PDF 300k".
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  9. #9
    We are vigilant icehousedesigns's Avatar
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    On a nicer note..Google index's PDF's, which is pretty neat

  10. #10
    What's HTML?
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    I agree with what is said above. I hate when an important document (contract, etc) is only available in PDF format. It takes 3-5 minutes just to see if you agree with the basic guidelines of the contract, bah.
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  11. #11
    How Much Money?
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    sorry to but in this conversation at a late time,

    Have you thatught about the audience that your website targets? If you are targetting web designers, they are more likely to have reader, whereas if you are targeting 7 Year olds, they probably couldnt even read the word "acrobat reader"

    Hope this helps
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  12. #12
    Team SitePoint AlexW's Avatar
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    I actually think Acrobat is the best thing since the invention of bread for real world print jobs. PDF has always been brilliant at taking a raft file formats from a wide range of applications, compressing them, embedding them into one in all inclusive file and printing an accurate representation of what it displayed on screen. No easy task.

    But 'nanometer level control' and high color fidelity really aren't that important on the web, and I doubt Adobe will ever be able to build a single tool that perfectly serves two quite different markets and purposes.

    That certainly doesn't mean that Acrobat isn't useful on the web, it just works best for very specialised tasks (archives, manuals, instructions, etc).
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  13. #13
    SitePoint Guru Logus's Avatar
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    too many if you ask me.
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  14. #14
    Wanna-be Apple nut silver trophy M. Johansson's Avatar
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    You might want to read Jakob Nielsens article on why one one should (generally) stay away from using PDF.

    Summary:
    Forcing users to browse PDF files makes usability approximately 300% worse compared to HTML pages. Only use PDF for documents that users are likely to print. In those cases, following six basic guidelines will minimize usability problems.
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  15. #15
    SitePoint Zealot NZ Joe's Avatar
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    Thanks very much for all of your feedback. The general feeling is the same as mine, that PDF is good if you want to print, but not much else.
    Gravity always wins

  16. #16
    Sports Publisher mjames's Avatar
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    Originally posted by truelight
    You might want to read Jakob Nielsens article on why one one should (generally) stay away from using PDF.

    Summary:
    Forcing users to browse PDF files makes usability approximately 300% worse compared to HTML pages. Only use PDF for documents that users are likely to print. In those cases, following six basic guidelines will minimize usability problems.
    Nielsens is not the end-all, be-all of web design - we've had threads here explaining why. While he occasionally makes good points, I tend to think his theories are over-drastic. I think providing PDF files on your site is a big plus, but it would be smart to offer an alternative viewing method.

  17. #17
    Wanna-be Apple nut silver trophy M. Johansson's Avatar
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    Oh, I never said one should listen religiously to him, that would be stupid - many of his ideas are very radical. However, one should always check what he has to say about it, since he tends to make a few good points.

    As of my personal opinion - I can't stand the damn thing. It takes an eternity to load, tends to crash my browser, and has this hocus-pocus feeling over it.
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  18. #18
    SitePoint Wizard wdmny's Avatar
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    I think that PDF would be the best method for things like contracts. If only HTML was used, the fonts and html would have to be cross compatable. With PDF, it prints just like it was made.

  19. #19
    SitePoint Enthusiast Atrus's Avatar
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    NZ Joe, you said you didn't like to work with PDF online, but you have to?
    How about giving your visitors some alternative to opening the files? ht://dig is a open search engine that parses PDF, too. I liked working with it very much. Veeeerry customizable if you have some spare time.

    Atrus.
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  20. #20
    Team SitePoint AlexW's Avatar
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    Hi Atrus,

    I'm interested in what you were saying but I don't understand it. What is 'ht://dig' ? I've never seen that 'ht' protocol before.
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  21. #21
    SitePoint Enthusiast Atrus's Avatar
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    Hi!

    I'm sorry for being unclear....

    ht://dig is the name of a search engine project (probably ridiculing the protocol name :-) ). See www.htdig.org

    It is a program that indexes your webpages (meant to index your company's web presence, not opening competition to google :-) ).
    After that it offers a really advanced search through these indices. It can phonetically interpret your search terms, understand AND and OR deeply nested, and output all that with ranking (star graphics or what ever you want), and a really nice templating if you are getting tired of the standard ones.

    It needs to be compiled for your production system, however. What I do is keeping a local version on my test system, too, and create the indices on my pc, later uploading them to save the server the effort.

    Any more curious? :-)

    Atrus.
    Last edited by Atrus; Aug 30, 2001 at 17:48.
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