|Back to columns page | Dave's other sites: > CanGenealogy > Genealogy Unlimited > Volhynia|
|No, Virginia, all PDF files are not the same|
By Dave Obee
When you put together a website, you should ensure that what you are putting online can be read by as many people as possible. In other words, make sure that your pages, whether in HTML or PDF format, are compatible with as many browsers and platforms as possible.
The differences in web browsers are well-known, because we have been dealing with them for years. There is even a fun website, the Browser Emulator, that will enable you to look at today's pages through the browsers of days gone by.
It doesn't pay to aim your work for only the latest browsers, because that simply limits your potential audience. If you want people to use and appreciate your site, you need to make it accessible. So always, always check the compatibility of your work.
In other words, test your pages on two or three different computers, and use as many browsers as possible. You might find a glitch. A few years ago, for instance, I discovered that several pages on my Genealogy Unlimited site could not be viewed properly on a friend's Mac. They were fine on Windows machines.
All it took was a quick change in code and the page was back in business.
You need to be especially careful when laying type over an image. If you cannot control the look of the finished product -- and on a computer, you cannot -- it probably is not worth taking the risk.
The same philosophy applies to Acrobat files. Yes, we all know the theory that PDF pages are wonderful because they will always be read the same way, not matter what kind of computer is used. But that's hogwash, plain and simple.
Some PDF pages will not work properly unless you have the very latest version of Acrobat (or one of the other readers) on your computer. The person who puts a site together might not even realize what is being inflicted on users, unless a check is made using different software and hardware options.
Case in point: The first, trial issue of Digital Genealogist. It is a superb new online magazine, aimed at helping genealogists make the most of what computers have to offer. The stories are excellent. Worthy of note is one by Drew Smith, one of the people behind the Genealogy Guys podcast.
I sincerely hope that the magazine -- available only in PDF format -- is a success.
The only catch is that to use the magazine, you will need to have Acrobat 7.0 or its equivalent. If you don't have it, for whatever reason, you will have a problem reading this magazine. You might have no trouble reading other sites with PDF pages, but that fact will not help you when it comes to Digital Genealogist.
Here's what a page from the magazine is supposed to look like:
This is from a Mac OS10 computer using Preview software.
And this is what it is NOT supposed to look like:
This is from a Windows 98 computer using Acrobat 6.0.
Of course, you might decide that you do not want technological Luddites viewing your work. That is your decision. Just remember that most of your online competitors -- the creators of all those other Web pages -- are trying to get readers, not drive them away.
And for the record: My Lethbridge 1891 book, available as a free PDF download on DaveObee.com, is compatible all the way down to Acrobat 4.0.
If you have any problems viewing it, please let me know.
Posted November 14, 2006
|Back to home page | Dave's other sites: > CanGenealogy > Genealogy Unlimited > Volhynia|