They present a strange combination of functionality and fussiness. But the functionality seems to prevail because they're everywhere.
I read on a post that the average tangible product manufacturer has over 2,000 on their website.
Manuals, spec sheets, product descriptions, etc.
The OP was asking why. "Why can't we move on from PDFs when dealing with products?"
The benefits to render the information on say, a WEB PAGE, are there: easier to generate, easier to publish, SEO, etc.
Made me think.
It's because of business processes.
Those manufacturers have processes that have been functional for years, are probably well-tuned, and there's currently not enough incentive to change them.
Isn’t that where you want to get with business processes and SOPs anyway? Operating as well-oiled machines.
Which also made me think.
I imagine many manufacturers have some level of automation configured to generate them whenever there's a product launch.
They probably fill out a FORM that a user completes to generate them—form to pdf.
(Come on now, you know I was gonna get here.)
Now, what if that form pulled all the repeatable information from a database automatically?
I imagine a series of product diagrams, specs, etc., are stored in a database as well. What if the form pulled those too?
Combined with user-inputted data.
The rabbit hole can go deeper, but the point is, if there's a measurable amount of content loading dynamically, the form to pdf process isn't going to change easily.
All of this got me thinking pretty deep about PDFs.
Nerd, I know, bear with me.
A file on your machine is the last vestige of feeling like you have something "tangible" in the age of links.
The PDF is the document form of that.
A PDF requires effort to share, much more than sending a link.
A PDF requires more effort to edit than other formats or online docs.
And YET, that effort has a strangle capacity to telegraph value and ownership of something to its possessor.
There are entire communities devoted to sharing PDFs.
We trade PDFs for email addresses—an odd form of marketing currency.
They are documents.
They are decks.
They are gorgeous marketing collateral.
They’re office visit forms.
They are 1040 EZs and 1040 REAL HARDs.
They're probably here to stay for a while.
You might as well embrace them, despite their fussiness.
That’s why we built done-for-you PDF management. Just like I described above.
Manage PDFs within your automated processes that enable submission intakes from embeddable, dynamic PDFs and outputs to PDF for internal use or externally to users.
That way you get less fuss, more function.