Finding a Suitable PDF App for the iPad

| September 7, 2012

In developing the Scholars at TC show, library designers decided to create an interactive pdf as the basis for the show. There are several cool things about interactive pdfs:

  • Easy to create (in Adobe InDesign!)
  • Easy to share, as anyone with a pdf viewer can view it (i.e., everyone on their own device, on or offline!)
  • Interactive like a website for non-linear viewing
  • Displays well on an iPad

The Rubric

In addition to these qualities, we also had to consider what the user experience (“UX”) would be like in the library. We want to increasingly make iPads available for checkout to be used for a variety of purposes, and exhibitions seem like a natural fit. In the case of an exhibition, we imagine using iPads in “kiosk” modes as well.

So, with this additional “institutional” rubric in mind, we set out to find a good app to view the pdf. See Figure 1 for the rubric we used to compare a bunch of iPad apps.

By Aimee Piyatas

The Result

We launched the show on Kiosk Pro, but it turns out the pdf loads very slowly–a surprise to us since our tests on an older iPad ran much faster.

We’ll likely switch to GoodReader in a week or two. The pdf still renders slowly, but the process is slicker in a few ways, including better “back” functionality.

Ultimately we might have to settle on different apps for different purposes. Do you have any experience or thoughts on the matter? What app would/did you choose?

Devices like iPads will continue to develop as library tools, and for us it’s an exciting canvas for sharing our work!