Rich multimedia PDF’s with Flash

For several years, my wife’s business (trend forecasting for the home furnishings industry) has been delivering PDF ebooks* for her market along with her core newsletter, The Trend Curve(tm). They’ve been remarkably successful and her customers have repeatedly informed her about how wonderful it is (as one use) to be able to get in a conference room, project the ebook up and have a mass meeting to go over and discuss the trends with an entire team.

Though interactive with links, I (as her one-man technoweenie advisory board) have resisted adding richer media to the PDF’s due to learning curves and other issues. Primarily this reluctance has manifested in me since it’s amazing how many support calls her staff receives (though still a pretty small number) come in from people whose OS “associations” are incorrect and when they double-click on the PDF ebook it opens in Notepad or some such other application! They have no clue on how to re-associate PDF to Acrobat Reader…so you can imagine how this less sophisticated audience would do if they needed to deal with current versions of Quicktime, Windows Media or some such other install.

As such, I’ve been reading John Nack’s blog (he’s with Adobe) and trying to stay up on what’s happening with Project Apollowhich I believe is going to vault the PDF container forward by years and I can’t wait! Though today there are ways to add Flash to PDF, it is not optimal nor are the tools there for most Quark or InDesign page layout or prepress folks to easily deal with richer media and Flash specifically.

A rich media container holds the promise of providing content creators with a medium to deliver significantly enhanced and more valuable products. This was certainly behind Adobe’s $3.4B acquisition of Macromedia as well as the upcoming battle-of-the-titans (Adobe and Microsoft) when it comes to rich internet application user interface delivery…which is another post unto itself since it will be such a huge accelerator of next generation internet applications.

*I’ve been asked, “Do you use Digital Rights Management (DRM) with your ebooks?” The answer is “no” but with this qualifier: since most of these Trend Albums(tm) she produces contain roughly 125, 300dpi images (so you can zoom into them to see detail), the resulting PDF is 200MB’s or so. This alone minimizes the ability of people to email it around (most corporate email servers limit attachments to 5-10MB’s) and it seems only the most sophisticated users understand — or want to take the time and hold the risk — to copy and move a file this size to others.

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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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