Writing for the Web: A Primer for Librarians
by Eric H. Schnell
Portable Document Format (PDF)
The adoption of the Portable Document File
(PDF) format in the
development of Web sites continues to grow. Many of the resources
being made available from the Government Printing Office (GPO) and the Superintendent of Documents (SUDOC)
are being distributed in PDF. In addition, many journal publishers are beginning to utilize PDF to distribute their subscriptions electronically. One such venture is Academic Press' IDEAL service.
The primary advantage PDF offers
Web creators is that it allows documents created within any desktop
publishing package to be viewed in the original typeset design. PDF documents
retain their original look and feel - complete with text, graphics,
photos, and color - on Macintosh, Windows, or UNIX computers. PDF allows Web authors to regain control over typefaces and fonts within documents, something which takes extra coding with HTML.
The primary tool used to write PDF documents is Adobe Acrobat 3.0.
(Warning: The Adobe sites tend to be slow late in the day.) This product enables
the Web author to "print" files from common applications such as word processors and
spreadsheets into PDF. They can even be scanned in using Adobe Capture. These two products make
the creation of PDF files a fairly easy task. PDF files are then saved with the MIME extension of .pdf
In order to view PDF documents the patron needs to have a
product called Acrobat Reader in addition to their Web browser. This product
is available free of charge for all computing platforms. The advantage of newer
plug-in versions of Acrobat is the integration within a Web browser allows PDF
files to be viewed seamlessly within the browser window. The newer versions of this software
also allow the patron to begin viewing the first pages of document as it continues to download.
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