7 ways to navigate around a PDF file

Update: You can see all these modes in action on Youtube.

A PDF file is a multipage document which can contain many pages. Unlike Word or HTML, Adobe has introduced some very sophisticated ways to navigate around a PDF file which you will find in most PDF viewers. First of all, here are the ‘traditional’ methods.

1. Single Page view

You can see one page and move around using forward/backward arrows.

PDF file single page view 2. Facing Page view

Facing mode introduces 2 pages and replicates the ‘feel’ of a book, especially if you have ‘page turning’.

3. Continuous Page view

The next logical progression is to have all the pages in a continous line that can be scrolled down.

4. Continuous Page view

And finally mixing these modes together.

continuous facing view of PDF file5. Additional thumbnails of page

The problem with these modes is that they are not good for flicking through pages. You need to reduce the page size to see lots of pages and is can be very CPU intensive and not totally instant. So a thumbnail display can help.

thumbnail view of PDF file6. Thumbnails in Single Page mode

A nice variation is to add a preview to Single page mode so that when the user scrolls bar with the mouse button pressed, they can see a thumbnail of the next page, but the page does not appear until the user releases the  mouse button.

single thumbnail view of PDF file7. ‘PageFlow’ mode

Some interesting ideas have come out of the growth of new devices in recent years. We rather liked the PageFlow mode so we added that in to our PDF viewer and it works rather well for viewing PDF files.

Pageflow view of a PDF file

So that gives us 7 ways to navigate around a PDF file. There are some other interesting ideas out there, like the page preview in Safari. Do you think that might work for a PDF file?

What do you think would be a good way to navigate around a PDF file???

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Mark Stephens

System Architect and Lead Developer at IDRSolutions
Mark Stephens has been working with Java and PDF since 1999 and has diversified into HTML5, SVG and JavaFX. He also enjoys speaking at conferences and has been a Speaker at user groups, Business of Software, Seybold and JavaOne conferences. He has a very dry sense of humor and an MA in Medieval History for which he has not yet found a practical use.
Markee174

About Mark Stephens

Mark Stephens has been working with Java and PDF since 1999 and has diversified into HTML5, SVG and JavaFX.

He also enjoys speaking at conferences and has been a Speaker at user groups, Business of Software, Seybold and JavaOne conferences. He has a very dry sense of humor and an MA in Medieval History for which he has not yet found a practical use.

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