Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The PDF solution

Nothing gets a reaction out of app developers faster than saying that a recently released app goes "PDF". I inevitably get an e-mail stating that the developer didn't use PDFs in the app.

So let's straighten out what is meant by "going PDF": this is a phrase meant to describe the efforts of the publisher. Going PDF means delivering a finished print product to the vendor who then converts the publication into another format -- a Flash file for a flipbook, or an iPad app for tablet, etc.

The statement "going the PDF route" means, then, that the publisher is not really creating a new product but is letting the developer quickly and easily port over the print product into something else. Of course, the developer often sells the publisher on the ease of the conversion process, the low costs involved, etc.

"Going the PDF route" sounds negative, and it is to a certain extent. The fact that these apps essentially look like a flipbook for the phone or tablet means that very little thought was put into the creation of the new product by the editors and publishers involved -- and that is a shame.