Careful, Google’s PDF viewer may cost you a client or two:

I happened on this just by chance one day:

I was following my typical workflow, I had just finished a few color comprehensives for a client. I exported them as PDF’s and threw them together to send. I use Gmail as my mail client, it’s convenient and has really powerful organizational features. I attach the docs and fire away, only to realize I had accidentally put my own address as the recipient instead of my client’s address. Now for whatever reason, I decided to open the PDF’s  I had sent right then and there.

To my horror not only did the PDF open in Google’s in-line PDF viewer, but the comps looked positively deplorable!  Curves were not rendering correctly, gradients looked as though I had applied them with a dirty spray can and the colors were way off.

I proceeded to download these attachments and viewed them in Adobe Reader…perfectly beautiful, as intended. (I wish I could post screenshots of the comparison but I’m still under an NDA for the project)

I’m pretty sure the color in my face drained completely away as I thought of all my past clients I had send PDF’s to that I was positive had Gmail addresses.

I looked into it and this “in-line, bandito reader circumvention” has been going on since December 2008 http://googlesystem.blogspot.com/2008/12/gmail-integrates-googles-pdf-viewer.html

I have had no problem thus far with Google’s slow takeover of all things internet.  I think of all the useful Google tools I use free of charge; Gmail, Reader, Google Talk, Analytics, Sketch-up. But  if you’re going to handcuff your user to your own version of a product or service, at least ensure it works well.  I’ve tested other free PDF readers such as Foxit and found these to have accurate output.

There are ways to turn off the use of Google PDF preview, I cannot, nor should I expect my clients to have to do this. Adobe made an extremely important contribution to the design universe when it created the PDF and Reader strategy. Publishers and designers now had confidence because a standard medium was being used to create and view the files, they would be seen as the creator intended.

I now refuse to gamble in sending PDF’s to clients initially and now send image files. I’m a big booster of competition resulting in superior products and services, however, I cannot help wonder if Adobe should have kept the PDF file format on lockdown.

I still love you Google but you’re making me look bad! And yeah, I’m superficial that way.

– Chris Sagert

Footnote:

Google PDF viewer is now rolled into Chrome.
http://chrome.blogspot.com/2010/11/pdf-goodness-in-chrome.html
This could have a major impact on all those interactive PDFs , PDF portfolios and other documents created with the expectation they would be viewed in Acrobat Reader.

3 Comments

Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Chris Sagert: Design + Illustration » Acrobat’s “Fat Verts”reply
April 27, 2011 at 12:00 am

[…] I’ve picked on Google enough. It’s Adobe’s turn; instead of just bitching though, I’ll offer up this amazing fix. I’m […]

Chris Sagert: Design + Illustration » Acrobat’s “Fat Verts”reply
April 27, 2011 at 12:00 am

[…] I’ve picked on Google enough. It’s Adobe’s turn; instead of just bitching though, I’ll offer up this amazing fix. I’m […]

Ramboyantreply
December 1, 2013 at 10:21 am

Enoug with all this Google stuff and the like, I’m using CoolUtils PDF Viewer – a freeware utility, no malware or popups! Can’t say good-bye to Adobe though, ’cause I’ve been using it for quite so long)))

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