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Old 01-12-2019, 01:54 PM   #1
pedz
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Looking for PDF suggestions

Most manuals come as PDFs. PDFs are not first class citizens in Apple's "Books". On the Mac, when you open the PDF, it opens in Preview. You can not save a bookmark. On iOS, there are features like adding notes and high lights that you can do with other formats (I guess epub?) but not with PDFs. Last... if I read part of a PDF on the Mac, the page is not synced up with iOS.

From this point, there are so many different choices that it becomes bewildering but lets try to keep using "Books". As a specific example of this quest is this PDF for Canon RF 28-70mm F2 L USM On page 6 (called ENG-5) is an image of the lens with notations.

I've tried three or four different PDF to epub converters including Calibre and in each case, that image is lost. Plus, the general format looks a bit weird but I can handle that. The sample above is just an example I picked.

When converting from PDF to epub, are images consistently lost or is this example unusual? I will try other conversions but thought I would ask ... perhaps there is a common trick or something that I am missing.

Do other readers like Nook on Mac / iOS or Kindle on Mac / iOS handle PDFs better? The key feature is I just want the last page I read kept across all the platforms. Adding bookmarks that sync would be very nice too.

Thank you for your time
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Old 01-13-2019, 07:50 AM   #2
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Goodreader seems to to be the most popular PDF reader for iOS. Adobe reader works just fine on the Mac and has all the normal Adobe features.
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Old 01-14-2019, 04:34 AM   #3
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In all the PDF readers that I tested, the only one that has a Mac version is PDF Expert, It flawlessly syncs between Mac and iOS via iCloud. But, PDF Expert is expensive IMO, $9,99 on iOS and $79.99 on mac.
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Old 01-14-2019, 06:54 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nimapourkarimi View Post
In all the PDF readers that I tested, the only one that has a Mac version is PDF Expert, It flawlessly syncs between Mac and iOS via iCloud. But, PDF Expert is expensive IMO, $9,99 on iOS and $79.99 on mac.
Adobe reader is free and works fine on a mac.
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Old 01-15-2019, 09:42 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pedz View Post
Most manuals come as PDFs. PDFs are not first class citizens in Apple's "Books". On the Mac, when you open the PDF, it opens in Preview. You can not save a bookmark. On iOS, there are features like adding notes and high lights that you can do with other formats (I guess epub?) but not with PDFs. Last... if I read part of a PDF on the Mac, the page is not synced up with iOS.

From this point, there are so many different choices that it becomes bewildering but lets try to keep using "Books". As a specific example of this quest is this PDF for Canon RF 28-70mm F2 L USM On page 6 (called ENG-5) is an image of the lens with notations.

I've tried three or four different PDF to epub converters including Calibre and in each case, that image is lost. Plus, the general format looks a bit weird but I can handle that. The sample above is just an example I picked.

When converting from PDF to epub, are images consistently lost or is this example unusual? I will try other conversions but thought I would ask ... perhaps there is a common trick or something that I am missing.

Do other readers like Nook on Mac / iOS or Kindle on Mac / iOS handle PDFs better? The key feature is I just want the last page I read kept across all the platforms. Adding bookmarks that sync would be very nice too.

Thank you for your time
pedz
PDFs are not good on any platform, ever... PDFs were designed in the print and fax era of the 1980s for businesses to have a way to pass along printed/faxed documents without having to take them to a copy machine. PDFs were never really designed for what they have become, and as such they are an ancient technology that has been half-a$$ed updated over the decades to make them sort of work for today's needs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nimapourkarimi View Post
In all the PDF readers that I tested, the only one that has a Mac version is PDF Expert, It flawlessly syncs between Mac and iOS via iCloud. But, PDF Expert is expensive IMO, $9,99 on iOS and $79.99 on mac.
There are plenty of PDF readers available on iOS. Just type in PDF on the Apps app. Even the Kindle app will display them. Some apps are good and others suck. As stated above, PDFs suck by their nature of design and will never be great in today's tablet environment.

I really don't like PDF manuals at all, and most companies that use them for their manuals don't understand enough about publishing eBooks or even HTML pages to publish their manuals in those formats. In the early days before the internet, PDFs were easy to publish via Adobe Acrobat. Just feed in your word processor file(s) for your print manual and have Adobe Acrobat turn it into a PDF. That was an easy format for companies to convert to. After the internet and HTML came along, converting printed manuals to web pages and later to eBooks required a different type of formatting and a lot of extra thought and effort, and it simply wasn't cost effective to have two different sets of each manual's source files to create and maintain in your publications department--one for print and one for electronic transfer. The cheap and easy way was to use PDFs. I spent 25+ years as a technical writer in several software companies, and I can say from experience that having to maintain the source files for print manuals, help text, and other electronic transfer files was a royal PITA. You had to be careful to update all the different sources the same else one source my not jive with another. It required more work, more software tools, more skills, etc., and so it was a costly venture. And keep in mind that most software companies viewed their publications departments as a necessity required by customers, but they were unwilling to pump much of a budget into them, so they demanded the least expenditures within publications that they could get away with.

Last edited by OtinG; 01-15-2019 at 09:58 AM.
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Old 01-15-2019, 11:18 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OtinG View Post
PDFs are not good on any platform, ever... PDFs were designed in the print and fax era of the 1980s for businesses to have a way to pass along printed/faxed documents without having to take them to a copy machine. PDFs were never really designed for what they have become, and as such they are an ancient technology that has been half-a$$ed updated over the decades to make them sort of work for today's needs.
I must disagree. PDFs are excellent for the task they were designed for, which is to be a digital representation of the printed page. As such, they are a very good method indeed for preserving digitised versions of specific printed books (ie “page scan” PDFs. In my field of academia, Egyptology, PDFs provide an excellent digitising format for books which are long out of print. Many of the books I refer to frequently are widely disseminated in PDF format and would otherwise be available only in major university libraries.

PDFs “work” very well indeed on large-screen tablets such as an iPad. Long live PDF!
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Old 01-15-2019, 03:15 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
I must disagree. PDFs are excellent for the task they were designed for, which is to be a digital representation of the printed page. As such, they are a very good method indeed for preserving digitised versions of specific printed books (ie “page scan” PDFs. In my field of academia, Egyptology, PDFs provide an excellent digitising format for books which are long out of print. Many of the books I refer to frequently are widely disseminated in PDF format and would otherwise be available only in major university libraries.

PDFs “work” very well indeed on large-screen tablets such as an iPad. Long live PDF!
You need to reread what I wrote Harry, I never said anything about PDFs being bad for their initial design purpose, now did I? I only criticized their usefulness for the contemporary uses for which they have been adapted. They really do suck for software manuals, books, and other documentation being produced in an era where new documentation is written on computers. On the other hand, PDFs are okay for old books that have never been digitized, legal documents, and other such documents, but by okay I mean they are readable. However they still suck when viewed on a lot of devices because they have non-flowing text which makes for awkward reading on many devices.

Last edited by OtinG; 01-15-2019 at 03:17 PM.
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Old 01-15-2019, 04:44 PM   #8
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Actually, nearly every printed book in the modern era was a PDF that made the printed copy. There are often unchanged from the one that goes out as a digital version. They work for manuals and other documents where page referencing is common.

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Old 01-15-2019, 05:23 PM   #9
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Being a people pleaser, I agree with both Harry and OtinG.

I also wrote manuals (pre-internet) and PDFs were great. I still remember how excited people were when we could DTP them ourselves and then have the PDF printed. Good times. No more printer's proofs back & forth. Oh, frabjous day(s)!

But where they're also still good though is for writing specifications and procedures for distribution that can't be altered (easily). There were even some documents that we produced that couldn't be printed (or cut & pasted from). Using the Adobe tools, you can limit all sorts of things that the end user can do, and while this sounds a bit...OTT, it was really vital in our industry (because with Word docs etc unscrupulous people would change the documents and then there'd be even more lawyers time/money when things went wrong).
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Old 01-16-2019, 02:28 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
I must disagree. PDFs are excellent for the task they were designed for, which is to be a digital representation of the printed page. As such, they are a very good method indeed for preserving digitised versions of specific printed books (ie “page scan” PDFs. In my field of academia, Egyptology, PDFs provide an excellent digitising format for books which are long out of print. Many of the books I refer to frequently are widely disseminated in PDF format and would otherwise be available only in major university libraries.

PDFs “work” very well indeed on large-screen tablets such as an iPad. Long live PDF!
I've run across a few highly specialized books that were originally made available as a PDF or scanned TPZ book. Interestingly, some of them are slowly being converted to regular ebooks. The most recent one is Kramer's booth on The Sumerians. I originally bought it a few years ago on the Kindle store as a tpz book. I ran across it last week in the Apple bookstore as a regular epub. It is a lot easier to read as a epub. Being a specialize text book, it's quite a bit more expensive than most books and I wasn't all that happy about buying it twice, but the improved reading experience is worth it to me.

Most of my current PDF's are either magazines, old scanned manuals or electronic version of material that use to be printed. Certainly, having it in PDF is better than only having it in dead tree or not having it at all, but I find the epub version a lot easier to read.
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Old 01-19-2019, 11:12 AM   #11
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You need to reread what I wrote Harry, I never said anything about PDFs being bad for their initial design purpose, now did I?
Um, yes, you did. You said “PDFs are not good on any platform, ever.” That’s a pretty definitive statement.
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