Author: Nola Young
One of the major problems facing the development of the Internet today, is compatibility. People around the world use the Internet with the aid of several different kinds of software and the Internet itself consists of hundreds of different types of computers running dozens of different kinds of software and operating systems. The main problem is trying to deliver content so that it can be seen on every computer and so that the content at least vaguely resembles itself as displayed on other computer systems. There have been several solutions to this problem, although, none have been completely satisfactory until the introduction of electronic paper.
Electronic paper (e-paper) is also known as Portable Document Format (PDF). The term PDF reflects the fact that files can be easily transported from computer to computer without any significant changes in content or layout. Web developers use PDF files for presenting items such as newsletters, price catalogues, brochures, etc., because the PDF file size is small in comparison to an HTML page of the same nature. Additionally they are favoured because it gives the user the ability to print the document in its intended form without the browser window attributes and page titles that would show if you just used the browsers print command.
The World Wide Web is based on hypertext markup language (HTML) . HTML is controlled by an independent body called the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to maintain standards that theoretically apply to all computer systems and browsing software. In practice however, different browsers and computers will all display Web pages differently. For example, one browser might not support a certain element such as a table or price list, while another Web browser will . Due to these inconsistencies, it is difficult for Web developers to design effective Web sites that will definitely appear the same on all computers. In addition, a developer may not be able to get a page to look exactly the way he or she would like because of HTML limitations. PDF addresses these problems. PDF files will look exactly the same on every computer system. A Web developer can create a document, put it in to PDF and expect it to appear precisely the way it was intended to regardless of a visitors operating system, application version, or installed fonts.
The standard application for electronic paper is Adobe Acrobat. The reader for Adobe Acrobat PDF files is free and can be downloaded at Adobe’s Web site. Many documents online are now being provided as PDF files so it is becoming virtually impossible to escape using Adobe Acrobat.
Electronic paper is created by “printing” to a file. The process is the same as printing any document. A user selects the “print” command and then rather than choosing a real printer connected to the computer, the user selects Acrobat Distiller. Acrobat Distiller is the program that converts documents into PDF files. The PDF file will be compact, precise in its reproduction, and it will be portable to all other computer systems.