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Why Your Application Needs a Built-in PDF Reader

Why Your Application Needs a Built-in PDF Reader

Managing and viewing documents is critical to providing a quality user experience in today’s applications. Without some way of controlling the presentation of digital files like PDFs, organizations put themselves in a situation where they must rely on external solutions that may not be responsive to their needs. PDF integration into their applications helps developers to maintain control over their documents while providing a more consistent viewing experience for users.

What Are Your PDF Reader Options?

Sharing and viewing PDFs online has become much easier with the development of HTML5 viewing technology and PDF.js-based software. For many years, the only way to view a PDF was to download a file and open it using a dedicated PDF reader application. Although many of these readers could be added to a web browser using a plug-in, this wasn’t always a reliable solution and inconsistent support for these extensions often created security risks.

After Mozilla introduced the PDF.js open-source library in 2011, integrated PDF viewing quickly became an essential feature for web browsers. Most users now simply take PDF viewing for granted, trusting that their browser will be able to open and read any file. For some organizations, relying on a browser PDF reader is a perfectly reasonable solution, especially if they don’t have any concerns over controlling the document viewing experience.

But for many developers building web applications, these browsers and external PDF readers put them at the mercy of third-party providers. Changes or security problems with these solutions can leave development teams scrambling to implement workarounds that could have been avoided if they had their own dedicated viewing solution. That’s why applications increasingly feature a built-in PDF reader that allows them to better manage and present important digital documents.

Why Your Application Needs a Built-in PDF Reader

The core problem with relying on an external viewing solution comes down to control. In order to view a PDF in a dedicated reader, the file needs to be downloaded. Once that document is removed from a secure application, it could easily be distributed or altered without any authorization or oversight. This often results in serious version confusion that leaves everyone wondering which version of a PDF is the most up-to-date. By keeping documents within a controlled application, developers can ensure that the files viewed there are current.

Relying on external PDF viewers can also create an inconsistent user experience. Since not all viewers render documents, in the same way, it’s impossible to control what someone will see when they open a given PDF. In some cases, that could result in wrong fonts being displayed or some image layers failing to render properly. But it may also prevent someone from even viewing a file at all. For example, browser-based viewers that use the base PDF.js library without making any improvements to it often struggle to render lengthy or complex files. 

When applications incorporate a built-in PDF reader, developers can ensure that every document viewed within that solution will look the same on every device (and that it will open in the first place!). This level of control is incredibly important for organizations looking to build a frictionless and compelling user experience.

Integrating a PDF Reader

By incorporating a PDF reader into their web-based applications, developers are able to both retain full control over the viewing experience and keep files within a protected environment. When users are interacting with the application, all PDF viewing can be handled by the built-in viewer rather than handed off to external software. This makes it easier to manage access effectively and limits the number of downloads. 

Since every user will be viewing documents through the same built-in PDF reader, developers can also craft a consistent experience across multiple platforms. With more and more people accessing their applications with mobile devices, it’s important for development teams to offer responsive viewing solutions that can accommodate various screen sizes and interfaces.

In order to maintain complete control over files and deliver better performance, a built-in PDF reader should be able to operate as an entirely client-side solution. Whether it’s running within an on-premises technology stack or as part of an application’s cloud deployment, a PDF viewer without any complicated dependencies never has to worry about connecting to a third-party service to facilitate viewing. 

But why stop at PDF viewing?

PDF Editing

Often users need the ability to view as well as collaborate on their PDF documents, and providing the ability to edit those documents presents a challenge for developers. In a recent survey conducted amongst developers, there appears to be a disconnect between the PDF editing features that are available in most applications, to what developers actually need to fulfill and enhance their applications. So what’s the solution? 

Third-party Integrated PDF Viewing and Editing

A PDF solution provider has already worked out the challenges associated with viewing and editing PDF documents within an application. They’ve also devoted their resources to improving their document capabilities and expanding features to offer greater flexibility.

A good third-party provider also offers extensive support during and after the implementation process. If the developer needs to add a new PDF-related capability to their application or if they encounter a problem, they can quickly resolve the issue by working with their provider rather than wasting valuable resources trying to identify and fix the problem themselves. That combination of expertise and service means that developers can spend more time focusing on their application’s unique features rather than continuously wrestling with PDF-related challenges.

Enhance Your Application with PDF Integrations from Accusoft

With more than three decades of experience managing documents and images, Accusoft has been building innovative PDF solutions since the format was first introduced. Whether you need to add flexible front-end viewing and editing features to your application or are looking to add powerful programmatic PDF capabilities into the back end of your software, we provide a wide range of PDF solutions that address multiple development needs.

To learn more about how Accusoft can solve your PDF document management challenges, talk to one of our PDF specialists today and find the integration that works best for your software project.