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Many CMS systems (e.g. Joomla) offer the user an option to download the post content in PDF format.

Is this really worth implementing?

Are there any reliable stats showing how many users do use this functionality?


Some additional notes about the content:

  • let's say the site is a regular blog site
  • I do have a print version with stripped graphics already (print stylesheets)

I understand that having additional features like this (used or not) may be a benefit. But thinking this way we would have any fancy feature easy to implement on each site.

I just want to provide really useful stuff, and seeing as every joomla site has a download as pdf opiton, I wonder how many users did ever used this option. My bet those links are clicked hardly ever, or just never.

This is really easy to measure for everyone who owns site with those links.

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1  
I can't offer you any statistics, but I would say that offering an 'email' link or print-version of the content that was completely stripped of graphical design is fairly standard and would serve any purpose I'd have though .pdf would be desired for. –  Anonymous Aug 22 '11 at 15:00
    
Print versions stripped of graphical design is best handled transparently with print media CSS. –  Quentin Aug 22 '11 at 18:17
    
I would love to see stats as to usage of this by someone who had implemented. –  nthonygreen Aug 23 '11 at 5:20

3 Answers 3

This isn't really a question you can throw out generically like this. You need to make the decision based on your content and whether you want or need the extra control the PDF format can get you. (The fact you're asking suggests probably not, though.)

I'd personally say that the whole "print as PDF" thing is a bit of a historical hold-over that's increasingly unnecessary with the recent increase in availability of font-embedding.

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On a blog, there are few reasons to offer a PDF download of the current page.

The sort of content you might want to offer as a PDF tends to be content you've created yourself in a dedicated print design application such as Adobe InDesign.

Good reasons to offer PDFs:

  • Your audience may want to save the content for later reference, but it spans multiple web pages, so bookmarking or printing isn't necessarily practical. (e.g. a university course prospectus.)

  • You want to offer a version of the page as it originally appeared. (e.g. scanned legal documents, historical records, or handwriting.)

  • Your audience needs to print the current page, but the file will cease to be useful if it isn't printed exactly as laid out or if paginated incorrectly. (e.g. book and magazine proofs, film scripts, forms to be posted that will be processed automatically with optical character recognition, air travel tickets, or watermarked documents)

  • Your site is aimed at academics or medical professionals, who tend to favour PDF as an archive method over bookmarking, printing, or saving the entire page.

If you want to offer PDF downloads, but don't intend to create them by hand yourself, consider linking to a free tool that will convert pages to PDFs on the fly (e.g. web2pdf ). One advantage of this over PDF generation built into content management systems like Joomla is that you don't have to host or generate the PDFs on your own server.

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Depends on the content of your site. If your content is good reference material, I could see the benefit. I know it may not be the answer you want to hear, but you may have to generate the stats yourself. But by the time you have done that you have already done the implementation.

If you consider the functionality, it is just a convenience to your users, and you can never go wrong with that. Even if it is rarely used, it's is sometimes just the perception that you offer a user friendly solutions.

good luck! Joe

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