Archive for September 23, 2020

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

PDF Liquid Mode

Adobe (Hacker News):

Building on this continued momentum, today we’re excited to unveil Liquid Mode — the first step in a multi-year vision to fundamentally change the way people consume digital documents, and how organizations extract document intelligence to gain a competitive advantage. Leveraging the power of Adobe Sensei — our cutting-edge AI framework — to understand the structure of PDFs, we have begun to reimagine how people read and interact with digital documents, starting with reinventing mobile productivity beyond the 8.5x11 page.


Manifesting the future of PDF, Liquid Mode delivers a breakthrough reading experience that enables a much easier way to read documents on mobile.

Harry McCracken:

In its initial form, Liquid Mode is a first pass at a long-term challenge. It doesn’t yet support some of the most familiar types of PDFs, such as forms, slideshows, scans, and files that are over 10 MB or 200 pages. It also rejected the PDFs I’d made using iOS’s screenshot feature, perhaps because they were too complex. Still, when it worked, it achieved the formerly impossible: It made reading a PDF on a phone . . . actually pretty pleasant.


The company flirted with the idea of creating an all-new format that was “much richer, much better,” and not necessarily compatible with PDF as we know it. “We did some engineering work,” Parasnis says. But it quickly concluded that PDF’s compatibility and pervasiveness were such powerful assets that breaking them on purpose would be a mistake.


Which brings up another question: Will all those folks who read PDFs in non-Adobe software ever get the chance to view them in Liquid Mode? For now, the feature is exclusive to Adobe’s Reader app[…]

The core problem is that PDF stores text based on how it’s laid out rather than based on the logical sequence of characters. So Adobe has to use AI to try to recover the original structure.

macOS Containers and defaults

Jeff Johnson:

If Terminal app has Full Disk Access, then defaults write is smart enough to use the preferences file in Safari’s container. But if Terminal does not have Full Disk Access, then defaults falls back to the preferences in the ~/Library/Preferences folder! So if you do defaults write IncludeInternalDebugMenu -bool true without Full Disk Access, it’ll write to ~/Library/Preferences/, but that has no effect, because Safari is sandboxed and only reads preferences from its own container. Note that this happens even if there’s no old file at ~/Library/Preferences/, because defaults will create a new file when necessary.


Update (2020-11-02): See also: Dan Moren.


John Voorhees (tweet):

I use clipboard manager apps in a couple of different ways on my iPhone and iPad. The first way is as long-term storage. I stash documents, snippets of text, and URLs that I need to send to people over and over, which is easier than digging around in the Files app or Dropbox.

Second, I use clipboard managers as a short-term holding pen for all sorts of information. Sometimes I’m combining an image, some text, and a URL from different apps. Other times, I find something I want to send to someone later, and I don’t want to lose track of it. Lately, I’ve been using Anybuffer for both situations. The app has been great, but with the latest version that supports widgets and the new iPad sidebar design, Anybuffer has taken a significant leap forward.


Anybuffer can’t autosave your clipboard if it is in the background, this is a limitation of iOS. This means that on iPhone you have to switch to Anybuffer to trigger auto add, on iPad the easiest way is to keep Anybuffer in Slide Over.

Why Public Betas?

Dr. Drang:

Of course, the reigning king of poor initial OS quality is iOS 13, whose many, many, many early releases would have been reminiscent of a silent movie comedy were it not for the loud groans coming from its users. But iOS 13 also had the great counter-example to public betas: the cursor/pointer support in iOS 13.4. Here was a major update kept hidden in Cupertino until it was sprung on the world in late March, and it pretty much just worked right from the start.


Which raises the question: what is the point of the public beta program? Is it really intended to improve the quality of the released version? If so, why do we keep hearing of bugs that are reported but persist throughout the beta cycle? Whatever its original purpose, the public beta program is now a marketing tool—a way to get Apple enthusiasts hyped about the new releases and hyped to buy the new products that come out alongside the new software.