Thursday, February 04, 2010

OS X’s Preview fails to display PDF annotations

Today I went through a set of changes the proof reader had made to the book’s preface. I could see his annotations in the document and was seriously wondering what the heck he wanted to tell me. I even went so far as to reply that I thought his changes would make matters worse. Turned out to be quite embarrassing, because apparently Mac OS X’s does not do a very good job of displaying annotations inside PDFs.

See this screenshot:

OS X Preview displaying a PDF with annotations

The bars on the left each signify a single annotation in the document. Unfortunately neither are they aligned vertically with where the change is (see the red one saying “Swap order” – this is related to the red squiggly line right below the “Preface” heading.

Hovering over these bars will highlight the corresponding marker on the right, but will not reveal the comment associated with it. From what I can tell there is no way to get the text to show up. Zooming in and out changes the layout somewhat and makes a subset of the text visible – as in the screenshot. But there is no way to see them all. This made me assume, that there simply was no comment for the respective changes.

Tonight I wanted to print out the document including the annotations and did not find a way to do so from Preview, either. So I opened the document in Adobe Reader – which I generally find too slow for everyday-use. You might imagine my surprise when I saw this:

Adobe Reader showing the same document

This is the exact same file! All edits are highlighted much better and you can drag around the little comment hovers. Being able to read the comments made the changes suddenly become much more sensible, especially because some of them which I had previously considered strike-throughs were actually annotated with an alternative – better – phrasing.

Guess I will have to give Adobe some credit – and file a bug against OS X if I do not find any non-obvious way of getting at the information with

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Finishing touches

The book is in its final stages. Right now I am putting the finishing touches to the illustrations and going through the editors’ most recent comments and suggestions. Takes a lot more time than expected, though…