Skip to main content

How We’re Making Your JS PDF Viewer Responsive

Document viewing capabilities are no longer a specialized feature that require dedicated applications. Thanks to powerful software integrations, developers can now build PDF viewing into their solutions to create a better user experience and streamline workflows. The growing popularity of mobile devices, however, has posed a few challenges to development teams accustomed to building an exclusively desktop experience, especially when it comes to JavaScript PDF viewers. That’s why one of Accusoft’s key development goals has focused on making a JS PDF viewer responsive to mobile screens.

The Increasingly Mobile Internet

Since 2017, mobile devices have accounted for about half of global internet traffic. This trend has been fuelled primarily by a combination of improved cellular network coverage and the ever-increasing processing capabilities of the average mobile device. It’s hardly a surprise, considering that the latest smartphones are often the most powerful computing device people own. Even for consumers who own desktop or laptops as well, mobile devices make it easy to access internet services on the go, allowing them to manage finances, collaborate on work tasks, or utilize eLearning resources (or watch cat videos).

Today’s customers expect organizations to provide applications that deliver a consistent experience across all devices, regardless of screen size. The era of designing software exclusively for desktop computers and treating mobile support as an afterthought is long gone. If an application’s mobile experience doesn’t at least match that of the competition, customers will quickly make a change.

Viewing Challenges on Mobile Devices

Mobile devices can present a few challenges for application developers, especially when it comes to viewing documents like PDFs. While there are many PDF reader apps available for mobile platforms, they typically require users to download a file to local storage or to a cloud service in order to open a document. In addition to being inconvenient, this often leads to some presentation problems because the reader may not render the PDF exactly as the creator intended, especially if it’s not linearized.

Developers could, of course, rely upon the mobile browser to display documents, but this also introduces problems. As with external reader apps, the browser viewer may not render the document as intended, which creates an uneven user experience across multiple platforms. More importantly, the browser’s interface may lack key controls that enhance the viewing experience on mobile devices, especially if the viewer is little more than a basic PDF.js library.

PDF.js and Mobile PDF Viewing

The open-source PDF.js library was originally designed for Mozilla’s Firefox browser, but it has become the basis for a broad range of PDF viewers due to its flexibility. That’s partly why the Accusoft PDF Viewer uses PDF.js as its foundation. However, one area where that versatility is sorely lacking is with regards to mobile support.

More specifically, PDF.js doesn’t supply a UI that is responsive for different screen types. It was designed to render PDFs to a conventional computer display and provides the expected tools needed to navigate a document using a keyboard and mouse interface. Even if developers were to incorporate the PDF.js library into their application, they would still need to build a new user interface for mobile devices. Otherwise, key mobile viewing features like touch scrolling and pinch to zoom would be handled not by the viewer, but by the device’s touchscreen interface. 

While this might sound like a small distinction, it can actually create serious problems when it comes to rendering the document at different zoom levels. Essential features like text search may also be rendered useless by the poor interface, and the lack of thumbnail previews could make navigating the document tedious.

Making a JS PDF Viewer Responsive

Today’s developers need viewing integrations that offer out-of-the-box mobile support to deliver a consistent viewing experience. That’s why we built upon the foundation of PDF.js to create a responsive viewer interface that instantly adapts to any screen size. Easily integrated into any web-based application, the Accusoft PDF Viewer immediately determines what type of device is being used when a document is opened. If it’s a mobile device, the viewer replaces the controls used for desktop viewing with dedicated mobile controls designed for a touchscreen. 

Key touch features like pinch-to-zoom allow users to interact with PDFs on mobile and tablet devices just as easily as they could with a mouse and computer screen. That usability is the key component of making a JS PDF viewer responsive. Mobile screens should never be treated like conventional screens. By integrating a mobile-ready viewer into their web application, developers can ensure viewing consistency across platforms while also allowing people to access documents where they want and when they want them.

Integrate Responsive PDF Viewing in a Snap

Building an application that includes a JS PDF viewer responsive to mobile screens is easier than ever thanks to Accusoft PDF Viewer. As a free-to-use JavaScript PDF library, it integrates quickly into any web-based application with just a few lines of code and no complicated server configurations. Our industry-leading expertise with imaging technology has allowed us to make substantial improvements to the way PDF.js renders PDF documents and ensure high levels of resolution regardless of zoom level or screen DPI.

To find out what Accusoft PDF Viewer can do for your application, download it today and test its powerful viewing features in your development environment. With only a few lines of code, it’s the fastest way to add responsive PDF viewing to your web-based software solutions.