James O'Neill's Blog

May 27, 2007

Getting a better PDF experience

Filed under: How to,Windows Vista,Windows XP — jamesone111 @ 3:46 pm

Lets get prejudice out up front. I pendulum between liking Adobe products (e.g. Lightroom), admiring the technology but hating the way it’s used (Hugh has it right when it comes to flash use), and getting thoroughly ticked off with PDF. e.g.

  1. Microsoft’s travel agent sending me itineraries in Protected PDF format – plain text would be helpful

  2. Adobe reader.  Functionally it offers me no more than 10 years ago, but is more cumbersome to use – thanks to pointless tinkering with the UI. It’s slow to load and doesn’t unload after use.  

  3. Search. Adobe do have an iFilter which integrates with Microsoft search products. But can I find a 64 bit one ? Can I heck !

  4. Preview. What preview ? Adobe don’t provide preview functionality for Outlook 2007 or Vista’s Explorer.

  5. The “Sure it’s a Standard” but “We’ll sue you if you support it in-the-box with Office 2007” attitude of Adobe. (Compared with their DNG format for pictures. “It isn’t a ratified standard, but we promise not to sue you for implementing it).

Now I’ve mentioned Foxit Software before. Arthur put be onto Tim Heuer who had used their tools to implement the missing preview functions. I called it a “must have”.  Only later did I find Tim actually works for Microsoft. DOH ! Now I knew that Foxit had a 32 bit iFilter and was going to drop Tim a note to say “Hey if you know these guys … lean on them to a 64 bit version”. Well it’s out (I’m not sure when it was released but files are dated 30th April). It installed and I left the machine alone for a little while to see if I really need to rebuild vista’s Index and popped in a search for a known PDF file. Bingo! And with the preview pane working … FANTASTIC. By the way the ifilter is Free for clients, but chargeable for servers.

(Opps. Forgot the picture originally) So… I thought “Time to try out their reader“. And so far I like it. Although I’d like to see properties appear in the pane at the bottom of explorer. Maybe between Tim and the Foxit guys they could sort out getting PDFs to display inside internet explorer rather than spawning a separate program – there’s a KB article on doing this for office apps but I don’t see corresponding registry settings for PDF. Adobe needed an extension for IE to do this – and circumstantial evidence pointed to it being responsible for some IE crashes.


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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

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