How PDF Linearization Can Improve Your User Experience

by Gert Michiels, Product Manager

How PDF Linearization Can Improve Your User Experience

The Problem

PDF is the global and universally accepted file format for content sharing and information dissemination.

While content is increasingly being consumed online and on mobile devices, the traditional paradigm of downloading first before viewing is not always practical or realistic, and may even be considered old-fashioned or clumsy.

Consumers’ expectations are shifting to instant access. Content publishers are constantly looking for ways to share their PDF content with the best users’ web experience in mind. Luckily, PDF technology explicitly supports instant document view and direct access, even if the file is huge and would normally take a substantial amount of time to fully Download.

PDF Linearization

PDF linearization is a process that reorders the internal data structures in a PDF file. The goal of this reordering is twofold: to place the data for the first page at the beginning of the PDF file, and to make sure the data location index is also inserted at the beginning of the file. The result in any PDF viewer looks exactly the same: nothing added and nothing removed.

Linearization can be performed on any PDF file, regardless of which software was used to create the PDF file. Also known as “web optimization” or “fast web view”, linearization must be done prior to publishing the file from the server. As this process optimizes PDFs for web viewing, it is an important time-saver that can make the difference between a positive or negative user experience.

The Experience

Since all the data for the first page is stored right at the beginning of the file, any PDF viewer can start showing page one instantaneously, even if the rest of the PDF file is still being downloaded in the background. This speed improvement increases the likelihood that users will read and engage with the content, improving the effectiveness of your latest online guide or whitepaper, and helping establish an ROI for your content marketing.

Bonus: Direct Access

Normally, when users are looking to open an unlinearized 20, 200, or 2000-page PDF document, they have to wait for the file to load before they can see what’s on a specific page mid-way through the document. With a linearized PDF, however, your users can jump to page 1067 directly and see its contents immediately without having to first fully download the file (provided that both the viewer software and the file server support direct access).

The longer users have to wait for the content they want, the more negative their experience (with many exiting the page completely). Linearization allows users to access the information they need right away, which cuts down on wait time, increases efficiency, and improves overall user experience.

Getting Started with PDF Linearization

Linearization can increase your visibility on the web by generating easily accessible PDF content. Reach out to Foxit to learn more.


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