For a long time I’ve wanted to write about the PDF format, this post idea has been in my drafts list for a while. But if one hesitates, of course someone else beats you to it; this time it was Joe Clark. He recently wrote an article for the redesigned A List Apart: Facts and Opinions About PDF Accessibility.
The article has aroused many reactions, and amongst them are Tommy‘s interesting Et Tu, Joe?, which raises the never-ending discussion that accessibility isn’t only about disabled, and making a web site accessible to disabled isn’t supposed to be done with the cost of decreasing the functionality/availability of the web site for others.
But back to the PDF trail. Joe writes:
The complaint that you have to use a “special program” to read a PDF document is bogus. You’re already using a special program to read an HTML document. It’s just that you use that program so much it no longer seems special.
While this might be true, to me it doesn’t justify opening an application whose footprint is two to three sizes bigger than the web browser itself just to view a document that could’ve easily been coded with HTML (this is the case when using Adobe Acrobat, I know there a lots of other options, but most people seem to be using Adobe Acrobat for it). Jakob Nielsen finds PDF:unfit for human consumption and Charl van Niekerk states PDFs Considered Crap.
Personally, I definitely think there are cases when PDF files are the right format for the task, but generally they are/have been terribly overused on the internet. However, now at least we have a guide how to make them accessible when we have to use them, thanks to Joe.
PS. This is my third post today. Am I on fire, or what? 🙂 Granted, not very long posts, but still! Make sure you don’t miss the other two. DS.