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Old 10-10-2008, 04:15 PM   #1
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Currently PDF challenged--help!

OK...so I just got hooked up with my local library via OverDrive, and checked out a few secure PDF's using Digital Editions.

Everything looks and reads fine on my 505, except the font size is too small when it's on the smallest setting. On the medium setting, the font size is fine, but it gives me strange, big page breaks. While its not the death knell for reading this book, it's a little annoying.

From my limited understanding of pdf's, I think this has something to do with reflow? Right now, that word is very strange and mysterious to me...as is grasping the concept of what's going on and how to fix it.

If someone could direct me to a good, beginner's type thread about this, or give me a suggestion on how to fix it, I'd be really grateful!
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Old 10-10-2008, 04:38 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by PsyDocJoanne View Post
From my limited understanding of pdf's, I think this has something to do with reflow? Right now, that word is very strange and mysterious to me...as is grasping the concept of what's going on and how to fix it.
The same thing will/could happen on the small font size too. There is no way to fix it. Basically what is happening is that all of the text on a single "paper page" is wrapped (flowed) when it gets to the length of your screen to the next line. So, one "page" might be 2.5 screens of text. The "page" break is still there so after that 2.5 screens you have to go to the next screen to get to the top of the next page.

Personally I think the re-flow should also ignore the page breaks and make them a few lines... but that is not how they choose to do it. Possible because a new chapter would start in the middle of a "screen" of text.

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Old 10-10-2008, 04:38 PM   #3
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Hi

This thread explained it well for me. I had the same questions as your self


http://www.mobileread.com/forums/sho...ght=pdf+reflow

Gary
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Old 10-10-2008, 05:06 PM   #4
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Thanks Bob and Blusaber!

I'll check out the thread you directed me to, Blusaber!

I guess I at least feel slightly better knowing there's nothing that can be done about it.

But (and pardon me if this has been covered) why would whoever formats these books choose to format them that way? There must be something I'm missing.
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Old 10-10-2008, 06:04 PM   #5
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But (and pardon me if this has been covered) why would whoever formats these books choose to format them that way? There must be something I'm missing.
Because that's the way it's always been done. Most "ebook" reading prior to last year or so has been on PCs.... so the 8.5x11 formatted worked fine. At least that's what I think is the reason. I run into that reason alot in corporate America. "That's how we've always done it!" IS NOT A GOOD REASON.

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Old 10-11-2008, 03:12 AM   #6
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I think--just a guess--but PDF's for the most part were formatted with printing in mind. Hence the fixed page sizes. Now, I don't know why they couldn't reformat the page breaks when re-flowing more logically.

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Old 10-12-2008, 12:23 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by pilotbob View Post
The same thing will/could happen on the small font size too. There is no way to fix it. Basically what is happening is that all of the text on a single "paper page" is wrapped (flowed) when it gets to the length of your screen to the next line. So, one "page" might be 2.5 screens of text. The "page" break is still there so after that 2.5 screens you have to go to the next screen to get to the top of the next page.

Personally I think the re-flow should also ignore the page breaks and make them a few lines... but that is not how they choose to do it. Possible because a new chapter would start in the middle of a "screen" of text.
I, too, would rather have chapters start inline than have big breaks every couple of pages. As Bob has implied, it's totally up to the [lousy] reader software. Despite what others have said about tagging, etc., those are all issues of work-around. In PDF eBooks, the text exists as text, and it's totally up to the reader how it handles the line beaks and page breaks.

I believe the rush to embrace PDF commercially is because it is a cross-platform DRM standard. I have no idea why self-publishing has gone in this direction, except that there are more obvious PDF-creation shareware applications than for LRF, LIT, ePUB, etc.

But the the most unfortunate thing is that manufacturers of the eBook readers have all but completely ignored the functionality of handling the text of these documents formatted for other-sized screens on their particular hardware devices. Sony begrudgingly gave us line-wrap recently. Why stop there? "Page-wrap" (to coin a phrase) is the obvious corollary.

Unless in their testing they hand-made PDF documents that were less than one page (like I just did for some testing) and NEVER REALLY TRIED TO READ AN ACTUAL BOOK WITH THEIR PRODUCT!

I have a feeling it's more complicated than that, based more on office politics and inter-company commercial negotiations than on technical functionality or user ergonomics.

- The Inspector
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Old 10-12-2008, 04:07 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PsyDocJoanne View Post
Thanks Bob and Blusaber!

But (and pardon me if this has been covered) why would whoever formats these books choose to format them that way? There must be something I'm missing.
The best thing about the PDF format is the biggest problem with it for eBooks

PDF was designed to address the "paperless office", by seamlessly mimicking the printed (8.5x11) page in digital format. PDF is able to maintain typefaces, graphics, and (this is problem) static text layouts.
For some uses, static text layouts are essential-it means that Chapter 3 is always on page 124, for example, and the same first and last words can always be found on page 124, regardless of zoom level.*

Forms, documents, drawings, and technical manuals were the perfect content for this. And since most desktop computers had large enough screens to display the PDF files as they were meant to be seen.

The problem with static text layouts comes in when you shrink your display down from 15"-30" diagonal to 4"-6" diagonal, as most eBook devices tend to have. PDFs have only two options for display on these smaller screens-shrink down the page to fit (making the text too small to read), or displaying only a small viewport (like a picture frame) that has to pan across the full size page (in both horizontal and vertical directions).

The new eBook formats are designed for a different ideal. Rather than slavishly mimic printed books, they decided to take advantage of the strengths and unique opportunities that electronic text could offer: Giving the user a choice of typefaces, font sizes, and page layouts on a wide variety of reading devices.

eBook formats eschew static text layouts for reflowing text layouts; this means that Chapter 3 may no longer be on page 124-depending on what typeface the reader is using, and how big a screen his eBook reader may have. In fact, the whole concept of "page number" or "page layout" is somewhat irrelevant. The disadvantage, obviously, is that you can't refer people to "page 124" to find Chapter 3. The advantage is that what IS displayed on screen is exactly what the reader wants to see in terms of legibility. Instead of the static viewport that PDFs are stuck with, flexible eBook formats re-flow the text, more like pouring text into a glass of water to fit, depending on whatever size glass you happen to have.

Ok, that was TMI In short, PDF was never really designed for the use we eBook readers are trying to shoehorn it into. Thank god for .ePub

*Sony is trying to have it both ways, by adapting PDFs so they can reflow text. From my (very) limited experimentation-it looks like they need to do some more work on that
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Old 10-13-2008, 12:39 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pilotbob View Post
Because that's the way it's always been done. Most "ebook" reading prior to last year or so has been on PCs.... so the 8.5x11 formatted worked fine. At least that's what I think is the reason. I run into that reason alot in corporate America. "That's how we've always done it!" IS NOT A GOOD REASON.

BOb
Actually PDF has had reflow on PDA's for a long time and it is not how its always been done. On PDA the flow works from page to page and the chapters still usually start at the top of the page as expected. This intelligence is built into the reflow mechanism on tagged files. I think there was a conscience decision on the Digital Editions folks (who are not the same folks as the PDF folks at Adobe) to maintain the page structure to match the paper book. I believe this should be fixed or made an option in the Digital Reader program.

While there is nothing that a user can do to directly fix this problem they can complain to Adobe and perhaps, with enough complaints, the Digital Editions team will fix it. Then at some point Sony will provide the fix as an upgrade. Keep those cards and letters going.

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Old 10-15-2008, 02:55 PM   #10
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Sorry, it might sound dumb, but I want to make sure I understood this correctly: if only the software on my PRS-505 would reflow the PDFs so that page breaks turn into line breaks, I would have an acceptable version of my document? And if I indeed have correctly understood, why in the whole wide world hasn't Sony implemented that (minimalistic!) feature yet???
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Old 10-15-2008, 04:32 PM   #11
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Sorry, it might sound dumb, but I want to make sure I understood this correctly: if only the software on my PRS-505 would reflow the PDFs so that page breaks turn into line breaks, I would have an acceptable version of my document? And if I indeed have correctly understood, why in the whole wide world hasn't Sony implemented that (minimalistic!) feature yet???
A good question. I think Sony isn't doing any of this, it is Adobe that did it. I also think Adobe has the mistaken idea (in the DE group) that most people are interested in what physical page the text came from. This, of course, is only really useful when you want to quote the text in an academic context where you need the page number to reference. The DE group needs us to tell them what we want I think. They seem to be hung up on processing one page at a time.

By the way, you may not even want a line feed on a page change. The text may be in the same paragraph and should be just flowed onto the page as the next word in the sentence.


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Old 10-15-2008, 06:40 PM   #12
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But if my understanding of PDF format is correct, it's just text and pictures which are encapsulated using page structures and tags to "fix" the exact look. Unless the document has an exceptionally complicated layout, would it not be easy for the PRS505's software to simply remove the tags to generate a simple flow?

I am asking because I, like many, have been trying unsuccessfully to reflow PDF documents for my sony reader, and my biggest hurdle was removing all the tags and page structures from a 400 pages document and replacing them with the bare minimum to produce an acceptable result (otherwise, even using the "export to html" from acrobat pro, I still got some very weird results). Obviously, I abandoned after a while, but I was wondering with the proper coding skills whether it would be not to difficult to automatize the process? And then even better, to include in the reader's own software?
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Old 10-15-2008, 08:02 PM   #13
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But if my understanding of PDF format is correct, it's just text and pictures which are encapsulated using page structures and tags to "fix" the exact look. Unless the document has an exceptionally complicated layout, would it not be easy for the PRS505's software to simply remove the tags to generate a simple flow?
<<SNIP>>
Many documents are nearly that simple. But PostScript (and its descendent, PDF) are really fully general page description languages. That means, among other things, that any glyph can be placed at any location on the page, in any size, rotation, thickness, etc. And there's a very rich language for computing those locations. In PostScript, it's turing-complete (that is, you can use it to compute anything you can compute in any ordinary programming language). I'm not sure whether PDF is quite that complex. In any case, the simplest PDF files might not be difficult to de-tag and reflow, but add in even a little of that complexity and it gets a whole lot more difficult.

PDF really wasn't originally designed for reflow. It's really a page description language. Period.

Xenophon

P.S. I invite more knowledgeable geeky types to correct any mistakes I've made in this explanation.
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Old 10-15-2008, 08:18 PM   #14
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Hi, and pardon me for butting in,

I wanted to know if a page is slightly too large to be displayed comfortably on a Sony PRS-505, is it then possible to rotate the pdf document to view the pages in landscape instead of portrait?
Meaning the length of the screen might be enough to display the width of the page, so that reading a pdf page actually takes 2 or 3 of the viewer's screens...

Do you think this is possible with the pdf viewer in the Sony PRS-505?
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Old 10-15-2008, 09:15 PM   #15
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Hi, and pardon me for butting in,

I wanted to know if a page is slightly too large to be displayed comfortably on a Sony PRS-505, is it then possible to rotate the pdf document to view the pages in landscape instead of portrait?
Meaning the length of the screen might be enough to display the width of the page, so that reading a pdf page actually takes 2 or 3 of the viewer's screens...

Do you think this is possible with the pdf viewer in the Sony PRS-505?
Yes. Press the zoom button for 5 seconds, and it'll switch to landscape.
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