Why You Should Embed PDFs in HTML for a Better Viewing Experience
As digital processes become more commonplace, it’s more important than ever for organizations to have the tools in place to manage electronic documents effectively. The evolution of PDF viewing technology continues to provide new levels of flexibility for software applications. Now that HTML5 is capable of rendering PDF data within a conventional browser, developers are looking for new ways to make the viewing experience even more seamless. By embedding PDFs in HTML, they can continue to streamline document viewing and reduce the need for external software.
Why Embed a PDF in HTML?
Sharing a PDF online is far easier to do today than it was just a decade ago. For many years, the two most commonly used options were providing a link to download the file directly from a server or sending it as an attachment in an email. Once the file was downloaded, it could be opened and viewed with PDF reader software installed on a computer. This, of course, introduced numerous security risks that are associated with downloadable files and email attachments.
The widespread adoption of cloud storage has made it very convenient to share a PDF file and even manage who has access to it. And since most modern browsers can view PDFs without needing to download the file, providing a link is typically all that’s necessary to pass the file along.
While this solution is usually sufficient for the personal needs of an individual user, it’s not a practical option for even a small-scale business when it comes to public-facing document management. Organizations want to retain control over their files with respect to how they’re accessed and displayed. By embedding PDFs in HTML, they can keep their documents within their secure application environment where they have full control over how they’re managed, shared, and viewed. For developers looking to provide a seamless user experience, building options for embedded PDFs into their software is critically important.
The Value of an Integrated PDF Viewer
Since most modern browsers can utilize HTML5 to render PDF files, developers could lean on those capabilities without building a dedicated PDF viewer for their application. That decision will very quickly lead to some unpleasant complications, however. In the first place, they are leaving a lot to chance in terms of the viewing experience. Not every browser renders PDF files the same way, so it’s very possible that two different users could have two very different experiences when viewing a document. In some cases, that could mean nothing more than a missing font that’s replaced with an alternative. But in other cases, it could mean that the document doesn’t open at all or is missing important graphical elements.
This approach also forces users to make do with whatever PDF functionality is incorporated into their browser’s viewer. In most cases, that will mean subpar search performance, a lack of responsive mobile controls, and no annotation features. The browser may also have trouble with some of the less common PDF specifications, making it impossible for some users to even view a document.
The open-source PDF.js library is a popular choice for many web applications, but it comes with a number of well-documented shortcomings. In addition to lacking key features like annotation, it also doesn’t support the entire PDF standard and does not provide a responsive UI for mobile devices. For developers looking to add more robust features, working with PDF.js often entails quite a bit of additional coding and engineering to build those capabilities from the ground up.
Embed PDFs in HTML with Accusoft PDF Viewer
Accusoft PDF Viewer takes the foundation of PDF.js and provides robust enhancements to meet the viewing needs of today’s applications. In addition to incredibly fast text search, expanded PDF standard support, and optimization for high-resolution displays, this lightweight SDK is also equipped with a responsive UI that adapts automatically to mobile screens. Developers can integrate essential mobile features like pinch to zoom quickly and easy, with no additional integrations or engineering required.
With no external dependencies or complicated server configurations, Accusoft PDF Viewer integrates into a web-based application with less than 10 lines of code. Once the viewer is in place, developers can embed PDFs in HTML and easily render them to provide a state-of-the-art PDF viewing experience regardless of the browser or device users have at their disposal. And since the UI can be customized to your application’s needs, there’s no reason to sacrifice control for the sake of viewing convenience.
For additional features like annotation, eSignature, and UI customization, contact one of our solutions experts to upgrade to Professional Version.