Using PDFs (or alternative) on mobile devices

I am a traditional print designer and most comfortable with using DTP to create static (with links) layouts.

I want to create data based documents for use on iPad, iPhone and Android devices, preferably the one set of documents for all.

I can create quite complex pdfs to do what I want, but one thing I don’t know how to do or if it is possible, that is to have long scrolling documents. ie have the document fit to width and be scrollable vertically. when I try to create these they fit vertically with wasted space horizontally.

Any tips or suggestions? I’m happy to change my production methods as needed. If I have to create the documents as flexible CSS documents I’ll do it, just that they are not WYSIWYG for the most part and add the complication of the changing layouts and much slower to produce for me.

Stop thinking PDF; start thinking HTML5.


It is cumbersome, slow, complicated to create and requires a browser to view

But if it’s the right tool for the job?

I think the points I made suggest it isn’t necessarily “the right tool for the job”.

Especially when you have to create a very large amount of material quickly and simply.

I can create an enormous amount of material in minutes, looking exactly the way I want, where marking it up in HTML, despite the tools that are supposed to help, is like working in treacle, dragging a cinder block, with a bag over my head.

I like simplicity and clarity in delivered products. I use mostly Apple products and you can view and search PDFs very quickly, without using Apps whose UI gets in the way.

Can you suggest something that isn’t a CodeMangler like DreamWeaver or something that just sucks money out of your pocket like RapidWeaver?

Have a look at Sparkle app. Terrible name, but really creates adaptive (though not responsive) breakpoint webpages. I have used it for a couple of sites where the budget is too small and the requirement too simple for the whole Adobe XD and developer approach. Fills the gap (though not quite so feature heavy) that Muse left. V3 is due out by the end of the year and it is meant to up the features. May suit what you need. Best thing is, it is pretty inexpensive too.

Thanks sprout, I’m looking at it now. I’ll download it and give it a spin. :smiley:

@PeterBr Totally off topic: Love your avatar!

Thanks. Forgot I had that. Oldie but Goldie. :slight_smile:

btw Am trying NicePage, see how it will go.

Pity when they created the web they didn’t just go with DTP conventions and methods. I really miss WYSIWYG!

The web started out as a way of structuring and storing information. Any layout capabilities were (and still are) secondary to that.

For the past 25 years, I’ve been working with print and web and feel very comfortable working directly with the code. Learning and getting fast at it it is typically a matter of investing the time.

Most websites today are built within content management systems, which, if compared to InDesign, is essentially a database for content that’s flowed into pages built around master pages and styled with style sheets. The content management system equivalent of master pages would be the site template or theme and the equivalent of InDesign’s style sheets would be CSS.

You mentioned the WYSIWYG Dreamweaver as being a code mangler. This was once more true than today. Dreamweaver actually writes pretty clean code — much cleaner than InDesign writes Postscript. Nobody, however, ever looks at InDesign’s code, but it’s there and it’s sort of a mess. Postscript is much more complex than HTML/CSS, and it would have taken forever to have downloaded complex pages built in a WYSIWYG app during the early years of slow modems.

Anyway, today’s web needs to be rather fluid and interactive in a way that static pages can’t be and. In addition, a backend scripting language is used to assemble the pieces on the fly. Much of that code is embedding into the templates and themes in a way that would make a pure WYSIWYG approach to web design problematic and difficult. Lots have tried (Dreamweaver, Muse, etc.), but there are serious limitations in doing it that way unless only static pages are built (no database), which makes updating a website much, much more difficult.

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