When a Smaller PDF Isnt a Better PDF

Dan Brill, publisher of Graphics Exchange, talks about why PDF is a container for more than just the electronic equivalent of static paper pages.

Any Internet user who has a conscience—or at least wants a message to be heard—knows that the less bandwidth one uses, the more people will pay attention. Or look at a page. Or download a file.

An entire culture has sprung up around making PDFs smaller, from features Adobe has built into Acrobat to third-party applications such as Apagos PDF Enhancer, among others.

So, whats Toronto publisher Dan Brill thinking of when he cranks out issues of his Graphic Exchange (gX) quarterly as 80MB PDF files? And why have 10,000 people so far found the fall 2004 issue interesting enough to download their own copy, three out of four of them choosing the heavy version and not the "lite" alternative?

The short answer is that its a great show. Brill stretches the boundaries of PDF, packing in as much rich media content as possible: animations, sound files, even QuickTime VR presentations. Those who download Brills monster PDFs dont get a shell of an issue, a file that points to streaming content hosted by remote servers. Instead, they get the whole thing, content embedded.

Hes also giving us mere mortals who make our mundane text-and-graphics PDFs a glimpse of how well all think of the format in the future—as a container for more than just the electronic equivalent of static paper pages.

We caught up with Brill on the eve of the Adobe-sponsored Partners in Publishing conference Jan. 20 in New York, where he will be demonstrating his rich-media PDFs.

Fluckinger: PDF as a rich-media container? Why not some other format?

Brill: There isnt much of a choice. Give me a list of all the formats in the world where you can include rich media: You can have all your fonts, words and pictures looking exactly the way theyre supposed to; you can put it on a Web site; and you can print it out and it looks great.

What are my choices? Macromedia is only paying lip service to the Mac community, and the Mac community may be small, but its not small on my side of the business. We Mac people are largely responsible for the graphics in the world.

Fluckinger: Some Mac Acrobat users complain theyre getting the short end of the stick, featurewise. Adobe says its because of Microsofts lag in features between Windows and Mac versions of Office. Whats your take?

Brill: There is a weak-sister kind of a thing to the Mac side; were going to have to accept that for the moment. I trust—OK, I dont trust, I gave up on trusting anybody—Adobe. Theyre running PDF, and Im not going to get into the Mac-Windows thing; Im not going to say the glass is half-empty.

I like Adobes model and I think theyre building an intelligent model, theyve got their business. Even if I dont like what theyre doing, why dont we just accept that and move on?

On the Mac side, what are we missing? To me, the rich media stuff, and thats missing [on the Windows side, too]. I have faith that Acrobat 8 is going to deal with that.

/zimages/4/28571.gifRead the full interview on PDFzone: When a Smaller PDF Isnt a Better PDF