Automatically convert pdf links to an HTML viewer? June 20, 2007 12:32 PM   Subscribe

Feature Idea: adding a PDF viewer? I recently installed a firefox plugin that redirects all PDFs to an inline viewer. For instance, check out this post today and then look at the PDF in docufarm. On windows, I hate waiting for Adobe's PDF plugin to load and on a mac I hate downloading and then opening in a viewer (and having to delete from my desktop later). This seems really simple and easy, and you can download anything you want to keep. Sometimes good posts hinge on a PDF, and this would make that easier to read online. Does it make sense to move PDF links over to docufarm?
posted by mathowie to Feature Requests at 12:32 PM (82 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

One vote against. I'm used to opening PDFs in Adobe, and don't even notice a delay, if there is one. I did notice the difference when the docufarm came up, and the images are actually a little smaller by default than in Adobe. Getting used to a different way to read a PDF just for MeFi would be more annoying to me than any advantage in the interface.
posted by yhbc at 12:44 PM on June 20, 2007


Can it be made an personal preference, like the inline YouTube viewer thinger?
posted by chrismear at 12:45 PM on June 20, 2007


That's pretty sweet, but the admins will never go for it.
posted by smackfu at 12:45 PM on June 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


Wow, at first glance I am in love with that. What are the downsides? I guess you can't CTRL-click and download the document with a docufarm link, right? Yeah, you can't. Maybe just a little barn icon (yay!) after the link to show the docufarm option, if you have a preference set to do that?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:49 PM on June 20, 2007


If you don't like your PDF viewer, switch to one you like. There are plenty to choose from and it's likely to be more satisfying than asking every site in the world to do things to your taste.
posted by majick at 12:51 PM on June 20, 2007


seconding chrismear.
posted by boo_radley at 12:54 PM on June 20, 2007


It's nice, but I'm pretty accustomed to (and not really slowed down by) Adobe at this point, so it might be a bit annoying to have links replaced wholesale by docufarm. Definitely agreed with the notion of a opt-in icon preference (with the alt text "[pdf]" on said image, for the screenreaderers out there).
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:55 PM on June 20, 2007


jessamyn, on the docufarm page, there's a direct link to download.

Anyway, this all came about because dealing with PDFs in Firefox on a mac blows monkeys and I've been searching for an inline way to quickly view a PDF and move on for about two years. I've avoided PDFs until I got this extension working.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:56 PM on June 20, 2007


this is hysterical. you guys realize the site's owner is the one posting this, right?

one vote for. that's neat as hell, and I avoid pdf links on mefi as a rule because of the hassle of dealing with them, so I'm totally for it.
posted by shmegegge at 12:56 PM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yes please!
posted by solotoro at 12:58 PM on June 20, 2007


One more vote for handling it like youtube: keep the link normal, append a docufarm linked icon afterwards according to preferences.
posted by Skorgu at 1:00 PM on June 20, 2007


Yes!
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:05 PM on June 20, 2007


you guys realize the site's owner is the one posting this, right?

mathaow? Ive never seen that name before, thus, the question about redress.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:05 PM on June 20, 2007


this is hysterical. you guys realize the site's owner is the one posting this, right?

(eyeroll) I vote in the negative. The pages on the link you made, Matt, are pretty much illegible when you click on the versions, so I'd have to download the pdf if I wanted to actually read it, wouldn't I?
posted by Dave Faris at 1:06 PM on June 20, 2007


The pages on the link you made, Matt, are pretty much illegible when you click on the versions

Uh, shit, Dave's totally right on that one. So it's good if you want to do that pretend-Internet reading that a lot of us do, but not so good for actual READING reading.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:07 PM on June 20, 2007


I agree with chrismear, make it an option in preferences.

That said, I downloaded the extension as I have to look at quite a few pdfs everyday.
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 1:07 PM on June 20, 2007

Anyway, this all came about because dealing with PDFs in Firefox on a mac blows monkeys and I've been searching for an inline way to quickly view a PDF and move on for about two years. I've avoided PDFs until I got this extension working.
posted by mathowie at 12:56 PM on June 20 [+] [!]
Well, that's because Firefox kind of blows on a Mac. In Safari it'll open it instantaneously in an inline Preview.app style view. If you want that to work in all your browsers, use this NSPlugin. I have it installed on over 80 machines and it works fantastically.

Just because your browser + PDF viewer combination sucks balls doesn't mean that it isn't totally possible to make one that works well. See FoxIt Reader on Windows.
posted by blasdelf at 1:08 PM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


They're illegible while the hi-res document loads. You just have to wait a few seconds (ye gads), and they become crisper. I think having the option would be nice -- PDFs in Firefox on a Mac are a huge pain.
posted by one_bean at 1:10 PM on June 20, 2007


Dave and Jess, not sure how it comes up on your screen, but it is crisp and clear on mine. The one problem would be for documents with tiny font, as I don't see a way to increase or decrease the page size like with Reader.
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 1:11 PM on June 20, 2007


I love it!
posted by bshort at 1:18 PM on June 20, 2007


Looks good on my screen.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:18 PM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


“Uh, shit, Dave's totally right on that one. So it's good if you want to do that pretend-Internet reading that a lot of us do, but not so good for actual READING reading.”

Are you sure you're waiting long enough for the cliked-on page to fully display? It starts off low-resolution and improves. It looks fine on my display and is quite readable.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:19 PM on June 20, 2007


Or are you even clicking on a specific page of the PDF after the linked PDF loads?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:20 PM on June 20, 2007


Again, If you're having problems with PDFs in Firefox on a Mac, INSTALL THIS PLUGIN.
posted by blasdelf at 1:20 PM on June 20, 2007


Feature Idea: adding a PDF viewer?

Eh, there's a extension for FF and IE and other, better options for viewing PDFs. Maybe it's overkill for you install inline and have to maintain.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:24 PM on June 20, 2007


this is hysterical. you guys realize the site's owner is the one posting this, right?

In this case ... who cares? I think this docufarm thing is the cat's pajamas, really - and installed the plugin.
posted by Xere at 1:25 PM on June 20, 2007


I vote for profile preference, if implemented. In-browser PDFs work reasonably for all of my Windows boxes.
posted by bonehead at 1:27 PM on June 20, 2007


I see the blocky low-res for a moment before the image loads properly, too.

Another mild complaint: the hyperlinks in the images aren't, well, hyperlinks.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:29 PM on June 20, 2007


I like it, although I resent the implication that that's because I only pretend read.
posted by OmieWise at 1:31 PM on June 20, 2007


Actually, cortex's point is right, that blows...the links are broken in docufarm.
posted by OmieWise at 1:35 PM on June 20, 2007


Are you sure you're waiting long enough for the cliked-on page to fully display?

I guess I wasn't, but it felt like forever. Counting to five to load each page doesn't improve my user experience any. Also, it would be nice if the hyperlinks, you know, linked.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:35 PM on June 20, 2007


I prefer my current PDF-viewing solutions to docufarm. But other folks seem to prefer docufarm, so, like chrismear and others, I think that offering the choice is a good way to go.

On preview: wait, docufarm breaks the links? Fuck that shit.
posted by box at 1:37 PM on June 20, 2007


okay, to be clear, I was referring to these comments when I mentioned that it was mathowie who made the post.
posted by shmegegge at 1:38 PM on June 20, 2007


Very cool. I would no longer flee from PDF links as if they were on fire or made of bees.
posted by 0xFCAF at 1:40 PM on June 20, 2007


shmegegge, I think both of those were jokes on the fact that it was mathowie who made the suggestion.
posted by yhbc at 1:43 PM on June 20, 2007


Another problem with docufarm: Click on page one. It expands, appears briefly in lo-res, and then resolves. So far so good, although you can't click on the hyperlinks. If you click on page one again, it shrinks down, and you can then click on page two, and so forth.

However, if you click on page one and then click on page three or so without first minimizing the first page, it doesn't look like you can now minimize them all down to the original view. Therefore, you couldn't read all the pages, because some are hidden by the first one you opened.
posted by yhbc at 1:48 PM on June 20, 2007


DO NOT WANT
posted by designbot at 1:54 PM on June 20, 2007


I'll join in the general clamour for this to be opt-in; I'm quite happy with the way Safari handles PDFs for me (using the Schubert-IT PDF-viewer plug-in) but for those shackled with Adobe or when I'm using a different plug-in this seems a good idea.
My only reservation is this: since the introduction of the inline Youtube widgets, the rest of the Internet seems broken without them. This could be too much of a good thing, and we all know the consequences of that.
posted by nowonmai at 1:55 PM on June 20, 2007


Since Acrobat Reader is completely horked on my computer and won't uninstall, reinstall or launch from my browser, this would thrill me.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:56 PM on June 20, 2007


The FF mac PDF viewer that blasdelf links to above works very well for me, very fast. Can't search within documents though so half the time I load up adobe anyway, which the schubert plugin makes very easy to do.

On topic, if you implement docufarm, making it an opt-in user preference would be nice.
posted by Rumple at 1:58 PM on June 20, 2007


Again, If you're having problems with PDFs in Firefox on a Mac, INSTALL THIS PLUGIN.

That only works with non-intel Macs, so it doesn't work for me (no idea why they never updated it).
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:59 PM on June 20, 2007


Adobe reader sucks balls, so I say yes.
posted by delmoi at 2:04 PM on June 20, 2007


I vote yes!

I dont even look at many PDFs in Posts, telling myself I'll look at them later which I usually dont do.

So all the nitpicking is minor. With this, I will actually take a look at them and if intrigued will take the time to properly download the thing. Think of it as an instant previewer for PDF instead of something full-fledged.
posted by vacapinta at 2:09 PM on June 20, 2007


Actually, it wasn't that much of a joke. Yeah, there was a knowing smirk that Matt's the guy who came up with the idea but my point is that modifying one site (or all of them) because Adobe can't code worth a shit is not just futile, but outright silly.

The AMA-approved answer to "Doctor, it hurts when I use shitty software!" is not "So modify every host on the Web!"
posted by majick at 2:12 PM on June 20, 2007


(Having said that, I'd still like to register the opinion that PDF is a crappy way to do anything on the web. "Here, cope with this binary lump of quasi-PostScript" is not really the way the web needs to work.)
posted by majick at 2:16 PM on June 20, 2007


Are you sure you're waiting long enough for the cliked-on page to fully display? It starts off low-resolution and improves. It looks fine on my display and is quite readable.

Likewise. Not much of a delay, either. It's about the same as waiting for Adobe Reader.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:19 PM on June 20, 2007


Docufarm is my new best friend. Please don't take away my best friend, Mr. Howie.
posted by lekvar at 2:43 PM on June 20, 2007


If you run FireFox under Rosetta on an Intel mac, the Schubert-IT plugin will work (although this is still less than ideal, it's occasionally nice to know.)
posted by Wolfdog at 2:45 PM on June 20, 2007


Blasdelf, despite your two separate posts hawking it, the Schubert-It FF plugin doesn't work at all on Intel Macs, so nobody with a Mac bought in the last 18 months can use it.

Matt, I don't like that plug-in -- I feel your pain about the Mac PDF issues, but that isn't the solution. I'd feel fine about it being either a pref or there being an icon next to a PDF link which brings a user to a Docufarmed version of the PDF, but please, don't make it the default!

(And one note: there are a bunch of links out there to PDFs that don't end in .pdf, like dynamically-generated PDFs and shortcut links and the like... so you'll likely miss a few here and there.)
posted by delfuego at 2:47 PM on June 20, 2007


also "DO NOT WANT", doubleplus ungood!
posted by blue_beetle at 2:59 PM on June 20, 2007


For anyone else here using a PC and the Firefox PDF extension, I second the Foxit recommendation.

It's not great for intense PDF dealings, but for quick reading during web browsing (or in general), I have no complaints.
posted by Tehanu at 3:01 PM on June 20, 2007


An inline pdf viewer is much more useful than an inline youtube viewer, I think. On the other hand, I have the youtube viewer turned off..

Docufarm in particular could do with some improvement, it isn't exactly super-fantastic yet, but I can certainly see why it is a great thing to have in certain circumstances.
posted by Chuckles at 3:02 PM on June 20, 2007


DO NOT WANT (or, if you must do it, make it an option).
posted by aberrant at 3:02 PM on June 20, 2007


No thanks. The current lack of a PDF plugin for Intel Mac Firefox users isn't worth meddling with the site over.
posted by cillit bang at 3:16 PM on June 20, 2007


Neat tool. Much better than using Acrobat (which is no less odious on Windows: always wants to update itself but hasn't done anything new since 2000 - wtf??).

What happens when docufarm.com ceases to exist? Do all the links break? As long as they can be converted back in the event of Adobe buying/suing them or whatever... go for it.
posted by scarabic at 3:24 PM on June 20, 2007


I’m not all that impressed by it; I probably wouldn’t use it if the option were given, but I’m not opposed as long as it is preference option.

I use Safari, which I think handles PDF better than Firefox on Mac. As far as Firefox is concerned, isn’t this the perfect use case for a one-off Greasemonkey script?
posted by ijoshua at 4:04 PM on June 20, 2007


If I were to write a comment, it would say:

"I’m not all that impressed by it; I probably wouldn’t use it if the option were given, but I’m not opposed as long as it is preference option.

I use Safari, which I think handles PDF better than Firefox on Mac. As far as Firefox is concerned, isn’t this the perfect use case for a one-off Greasemonkey script?"


Or, what ijoshua said, fine.
posted by cgc373 at 4:16 PM on June 20, 2007


Another vote for opt-in.

Me: powerboom, Firefox, some pdf-reader plug-in thing (probably the one linked to above) that works just fine.
posted by rtha at 4:17 PM on June 20, 2007


Anything that takes power away from Adobe is a good idea, IMO.

Do as you wish.
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:20 PM on June 20, 2007


I think this is a good idea with as-yet bad execution, but like most bad things, it'd be fine as opt-in.

However, I'd really like a better way to view pdfs. I generally skip them, despite the fact that I also sometimes post them and hope everyone else won't skip the ones -I- post. (Running FF in Windows XP.)
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:23 PM on June 20, 2007


Is there some sort of flash PDF reader yet that would be better? Since Adobe bought out Macromedia and all, it seems like that would be a better way to go -- that way, you have all of the scrolling and zooming you want without extra plugins besides Flash.
posted by spiderskull at 5:26 PM on June 20, 2007


This increases the awesome factor of MeFi by about 16 percent.
posted by klangklangston at 5:40 PM on June 20, 2007


I have no opinion on this matter (other than Adobe Acrobat is a bloated beast of a thing).

Oh, and also integrating offsite webservice web2point-o-rama, much as it's the flavour of the times, still seems less than 6-nines dependable to me, unless it's Google or somebody that isn't going to disappear short of the Yosemite megavolcano going boom.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:00 PM on June 20, 2007


Sounds cool, but it seems like there's no reason not to have it an option. A user-pref might be a hassle, but an automagic linked icon after pdf links seems like the best of both worlds.
posted by freebird at 6:41 PM on June 20, 2007


Huh, the usability complaints don't resonate with me. I find I like how the whole document shows up immediately and looking at an individual page is easy and very legible. It's far better than Adobe Reader on Windows with Firefox, which is very slow and I hate it. (It's entirely possible that on my system it's especially slow as I have antivirus/etc software that scans every document as it's accessed and with Adobe Reader, even as a plug-in, that PDF is being scanned where of course the docufarm view is not.)
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:42 PM on June 20, 2007


Oh, and I follow links with PDFs rarely. Rarely do the PDFs I read even contain links.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:43 PM on June 20, 2007


What EB said.
posted by languagehat at 6:47 PM on June 20, 2007


I like it. I always think twice before clicking on a PDF link. This would help.
Could we have a top ten friends list on our profile page?
posted by Sailormom at 6:58 PM on June 20, 2007


I don't like it - I actually installed the docufarm extension last week and disabled it a few days later, because I hated it. I've since installed Foxit Reader instead, and that suits me much better. If people want to use docufarm, they can install the extension themselves.*


*yes, I only care about people who use firefox.
posted by jacalata at 7:23 PM on June 20, 2007


Nthing the Foxit on FF/PC usage, and thirding the apathy towards PDFs in FPPs. IANACG, YMMV.

BYOBBB.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:38 PM on June 20, 2007


I would for sure support a new feature that instantly fucking perma-banned anyone who posted a PDF link.

I know that this isn't helpful, but there ya go. I really hate PDF.
posted by popechunk at 9:02 PM on June 20, 2007


I'm gonna have to say that'n probably won't see implementation, but duly noted.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:10 PM on June 20, 2007


I haven't had any problems with slow loading PDFs since I installed Foxit. I am sure there are more important features to add first....Can't think of any right off hand, though.
posted by RussHy at 9:16 PM on June 20, 2007


People with strong feelings about PDF on the web—like majick and popechunk—make me feel wishy-washy for having weak feelings. Now I feel weak. Weak!
posted by cgc373 at 9:57 PM on June 20, 2007


With so many injustices in the world, how someone has the time to hate a file format is beyond me.
posted by Dave Faris at 4:14 AM on June 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


I dunno - I have Foxit installed at home and use it to view PDFs, but the download window popping up is a constant distraction. At work, Adobe reader and yeah, you know the rest.

On the other hand, I have some beefs with the the docufarm interface -

1. That low-res image brings back bad memories of interlaced gifs from 56k days; and

2. Try this - open a page, then click on the scrollbar and drag. Then move your mouse a little bit away from the scrollbar and let go of the mouse button - page disappears. That was really annoying till I figured out why a page kept disappearing!

So overall, I'm going with the "opt-in" suggestion.
posted by your mildly obsessive average geek at 4:16 AM on June 21, 2007


I have Foxit installed at home and use it to view PDFs, but the download window popping up is a constant distraction.

If you pony up for the full Foxit Reader Pro, you get a browser plugin.
posted by mendel at 6:49 AM on June 21, 2007


With so many injustices in the world, how someone has the time to hate a file format is beyond me.

The human capacity for hate is unlimited, as is the human capacity for love. As is the capacity for snark, as you have ably shown us in recent times, you tiresome old crank, you.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:21 AM on June 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


<pot style="saysto:kettle;"></pot>
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:26 AM on June 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


your mildly obsessive average geek: check out the download statusbar extension for firefox, awesome solution to the 'download window popping up everywhere'.
posted by jacalata at 7:31 AM on June 21, 2007


I like it.
posted by Count Ziggurat at 7:49 AM on June 21, 2007


I don’t want every site on the planet cooking up its own methods to view “non-Web content.” The site I least want to do that kind of cooking up is MetaFilter.
posted by joeclark at 1:54 PM on June 30, 2007


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