Hartford, Hereford and Oh, 'ell
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Google Docs Viewer V SamurajData at 50 Paces

Thanks to all who have responded on the blog and offline regarding the two pdf reader contenders: Google Docs Viewer and Samurajdata. The muzzle loaders are primed, the readers have stepped back the requisite 50 paces and the silk kerchief is about to drop.

GDV (oh, how we love our acronyms) has the advantage of being part of the behemoth and as such, likely to be around for a few more years. It has a nicely polished and friendly interface. It seems to handle a great many doc formats and plays fairly nicely with most platforms and browsers. Not all by any means. Here and there the complaints and problems do crop up. From what I can gather, GDV hasn't been around all that long so I hope the problems are a factor of growing pains.

SD is open source, a major plus and a major downside. I like open source but, will it be around in the future? Usually I prefer to stick to features I have full control over or that reside on the ISP I am using. Moving to a cloudish service gives me the willys, even if that was a great car. SD is also a bit on the clumsy side when it comes to interface.

Alas and alack, there are people out there who are not intuitive when it comes to what all those little . . . and < > mean. There is also a fair amount of image down sampling going on in SD. My assumption is that SD down samples to 96 dpi from the minimum 150 dpi of the original pdf.

Scuttlebutt tells me that GDV converts the pdf pages to png images, with varying degrees of success. That would explain the minor to moderate changes going on over there.

All in all, an online doc viewer is just a service. If the higher quality doc is needed, download it, right? Sure. Ya. I can just see the emails: I can't read that pdf, it won't open, there aren't any pictures, what are those little images doing there, what are you wearing? etc., etc., etc.

GDV versus SD.

  • Ethics: SD wins - 1
  • User Interface: GDV wins - 1
  • Image interpolation: GDV edges out SD by a pixel - .5
  • Expected longevity: GDV wins - 1
  • Screen real estate: SD wins - 1
  • Cross platform friendliness: everybody loses - 0

Results: GDV=2.5, SD=2

Science never lies.

Some fiddling and such is still in order. I have this idea of either:

A. converting every single catalog and book to a combination of viewable doc and downloadable file

B. leaving the old stuff as is and doing new stuff as viewable docs

C. neither of the above

D. joining the night staff of Pawn Stars

E. watching Lost Girl, the new best show on SYFY

till next, Gary

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