Please Make PDFs Go Away…

Most law firms have a history of using Adobe’s Portable Document Format (PDF) to distribute their brochures, papers and longer written pieces. That practice matches what web usability experts have long advised: “PDF is great for distributing documents that need to be printed,” but not much more than that. The well-traveled rule is that if a document contains more than five pages of text (hint: that excludes lawyer profiles), then PDF format is worth considering.

Now, let’s throw a wrench into this. As we approach the end of 2011, many firms and their their clients are moving toward paperless offices. Clients are consuming law firm publications on a variety of devices, including smartphones, tablets, e-readers, and large multiple-monitor desktop environments. So how likely is it that we consume a PDF on printed paper? Not very.

Slaw – Revisiting PDFs for Law Firm Websites & Mobile Publishing

Finally someone has something useful to say about the future of PDFs. As someone who has to deal with found PDFs from all over the web, I can honestly say I wouldn’t miss them if they disappeared tomorrow. PDF is an excellent way to capture the artifact of the document page, but a PDF is not a web page, and PDF is not open data. PDF is a photocopy, a snapshot picture of a document. If you are interested in doing things like indexing data, repurposing data, reusing data, then a PDF is pretty useless.