5/08/2009

PDF – Portable Document Format, my butt!

I was trying to print out the Silverlight riaservicesoverviewpreview.pdf and, like so many other PDF files, it came out with missing letters that were blank and basically, thanks to Adobe’s bullshit marketing, I invested 116 pages worth of dead trees and printer ink to get a totally useless document. If you’re like me (and I suspect there are a lot of us) you will often print out this kind of  stuff so you can sit in bed before you go to sleep and take out your hellacious yellow highlighter and mark up a document that you are studying.

Well! So much for that. Not only that, but Adobe’s latest version of Reader is bloated software that takes up a lot of resources, and they’re now using it to “Package” Adobe Air and whatever other gobbledegook they think I should have, that bears NO FYOOKIN’ RELATION to viewing and printing documents. I don’t have a choice anymore. If I refuse to accept the Air Installation, I CANNOT HAVE THE FREE ADOBE READER, unless i want to go find an older version without the mandatory “baggage”.  And if I download some “reader alternative”, then when I go to some site that wants me to download a PDF, it doesn’t detect that I have Adobe Reader installed, and I’m sunk.

Microsoft offers some “Free” versions of their developer software (for example, Visual Studio Express, and SQLEXPRESS) that are very full featured. But they DON’T DELIVER BAGGAGE as a condition of using the software!

I am really getting sick of this shit! If you want to promote a portable document format and a free reader for it, then DO SO! But Do it right, and nothing more. Don’t use it as a vehicle for promotion of irrelevant “features”. Don’t hand me some bullshit software that I didn’t ask for,  and force me to install it just so I can be able to read and print your high-falutin’ format. PDF was originally designed for something quite different than what it’s being used for now. It was originally for preserving format for printing documents. Now, it’s become totally bastardized.

There are plenty of other formats you can use. RTF is readable and printable by virtually every word processing program available, not just Microsoft Word. It preserves the formatting and embedded images very nicely, and when I print it, I don’t get missing letters in my words that fail to print. XPS, which Microsoft “invented” is another good format, and there are others. What I don’t want is products that create new processes “Adobe Updater” for example, that hog resources on my machine and slow up the works.

Adobe Updater, Apple Mobile Device Service, Google Update,  ITunes, Zune, and half a dozen other offenders are now appearing in my Task Manager processes list. Did I ask for this CRAP? Did anybody tell me they were going to install it? NOT!

But the bottom line, to me, revolves around the concept of using what is promoted as  an “open format” to cram extra “stuff” down the consumer’s throat (Adobe Air, for example), and to have third party “PDF gadgets” that may  either create invalid or corrupt PDF files that turn out to be useless for printing. For example, my Microsoft Word 2007 program offers a “Save as PDF” option. What guarantee do I have that the result will print without errors? What validation is available to make sure it “works correctly”? Do I even know if it came from Microsoft, or some other vendor? We DO NOT have open standards for document rendering, display and printing, to the contrary of what you may be hearing. When a true open standard for portable documents emerges – without all the BS baggage -  I’ll be the first to support it. PDF doesn’t make it, in my opinion. The problem is --everybody wants open standards – as long as it is “theirs”!  I say, BULLSHIT! Open standards means everybody uses it willingly – whether they invented it, or not. The standard is published, everybody signs on, and that’s the end of it! Period! And there should be reference applications that embody ONLY the standard, with NO BAGGAGE!

Why do you Silverlight RIA guys feel compelled to save this stuff in PDF format? You certainly aren’t doing me any favors. BIG FAIL. Sorry, pals! Do no evil.