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The Grumpy Editor's Guide to PDF Viewers

The Grumpy Editor's Guide to PDF Viewers

Posted Nov 29, 2004 23:36 UTC (Mon) by jwb (guest, #15467)
In reply to: The Grumpy Editor's Guide to PDF Viewers by brother_rat
Parent article: The Grumpy Editor's Guide to PDF Viewers

xpdf has its uses. I have actually whipped up a web application for use around the office. The user uploads an encrypted, unprintable, copy-protected, or otherwise broken PDF file, and, after a round-trip through xpdf, the application gives you back something useful. But other than such automated uses, I find it infuriating. Many times the on-screen kerning in xpdf is just horrible where it looks fine in Acrobat Reader (example: http://www.analog.com/UploadedFiles/Technical_Articles/49... )

gpdf is missing some key features of acroread. Page rotation is the one I miss most, although "find" is also pretty important. acroread does a better job at scaling bitmaps and line art than does gpdf, and I find it easier to read datasheets or schematics in the Adobe tool.


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The Grumpy Editor's Guide to PDF Viewers

Posted Nov 29, 2004 23:48 UTC (Mon) by jwb (guest, #15467) [Link]

Well hell, it almost sounds like I was bashing gpdf there. Let me balance it out with the short list of acroread annoyances:

* Crashes in UTF-8 locales
* Crashes if Find feature finds nothing
* Crashes if Help->About Acrobat Reader chosen
* Ctrl-w can't close the last window
* Won't open the same document more than once
* Motif
* Can get confused and put the input focus into a black hole (see: Motif)
* Interacts very badly with Motif clipboard users (see: Motif)
* Gigantic executable (see: Motif)
* Font rendering configured separately from system configuration

The Grumpy Editor's Guide to PDF Viewers

Posted Nov 30, 2004 1:17 UTC (Tue) by Ross (guest, #4065) [Link]

It's been a long time since I used it but I also remember horrible color
inversion problems when part of the window was obscured and had to be
redrawn. This may have only happened on 15 and 16 bpp displays but it may
have been any TrueColor visual.

The Grumpy Editor's Guide to PDF Viewers

Posted Dec 2, 2004 22:26 UTC (Thu) by Dom2 (guest, #458) [Link]

Sadly, xpdf also joined the motif-me-harder gang since v2. :-(

-Dom

The Grumpy Editor's Guide to PDF Viewers

Posted Nov 30, 2004 1:52 UTC (Tue) by utidjian (guest, #444) [Link]

Strange, I find xpdf to have better rendering on that document than acroread. xpdf-3.00 versus acroread-5.0.9 on Fedora Core 3.

-DU-...etc...

The Grumpy Editor's Guide to PDF Viewers

Posted Nov 30, 2004 3:04 UTC (Tue) by jwb (guest, #15467) [Link]

Interesting. I find the typography in xpdf to be pretty poor. In the following screenshot, xpdf is on top and acroread is below. Taken on Debian unstable x86:

http://saturn5.com/~jwb/xpdf.png

There's something system-dependent about xpdf, because when I view that document at my office, the text is much worse. The letters of words are literally placed over each other. But even here you can see it's not as good as Acrobat.

The Grumpy Editor's Guide to PDF Viewers

Posted Nov 30, 2004 5:23 UTC (Tue) by iabervon (subscriber, #722) [Link]

That seems to be an issue of the fonts that the programs have access to. It looks like xpdf doesn't have the original font, and is using a different one with different metrics instead, which causes the document's typography to be messed up. Notice that the fonts don't even really have the same aspect ratio (xpdf is using a much squarer font). Acroread probably has the fonts that people actually use stashed away somewhere, so it can render documents more nicely.

The Grumpy Editor's Guide to PDF Viewers

Posted Nov 30, 2004 7:40 UTC (Tue) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

If you want decent rendering out of xpdf, you simply have to point it at GhostScript's Type 1 fonts. I've also pointed it at all Type 1 fonts I own, including all the TeX Type 1 fonts; there really are some documents out there that use (e.g.) non-embedded Computer Modern...


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