Flash in PDF – breakthrough, disaster, or irrelevant?

I’m interested in opinions on the integration of Flash and PDF in Adobe Acrobat 9 – an obvious move, I guess, but nevertheless one that moves PDF away from its original speciality of print fidelity, and more towards – what? Online alternative to XHTML? Application container? Or just what it always was, but with the ability to add Flash decoration?

If I wanted to send someone a video, after the release of Acrobat 9, I might well use a PDF with embedded Flash, because I’d bet that it would play OK irrespective of the recipient’s OS. Then again, I wouldn’t email a video; I’d email a link to an URL; far more sensible. Especially since restrictive size limits are still in place for many business email users.

There are some interesting comments to Joe Wilcox’s breathless blog post on the subject. Smart documents are all very well; but distributing things that you can execute has well-known risks.

Will you use Flash embedded in PDF?

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5 thoughts on “Flash in PDF – breakthrough, disaster, or irrelevant?”

  1. I wouldn’t. PDF is good as an intermediate step to printer and more convenient than Word as document interchange format.

    But reading a PDF in screen is tiresome, maybe because its printing-orientation.

    That was even before Adobe made Acrobat Reader really annoying. It seems that they want to monetize it, but not being sure how, they keep adding plugins, until it needs a minute to start and we all use Foxit or kpdf.

  2. Hmmmmm.

    Embed Flash in a PDF?

    Honestly I’m still trying to figure out where or why I ever would do something like this.

    Frankly I seriously doubt it. The primary reason why I use PDF file is because it’s pretty neutral as far as the potential for viruses and such.

  3. I have no idea why anyone would want to embed Flash in PDF documents, although I suppose one pseudo-legitimate (although extremely cruel) use of Flash would be to embed flashing advertisements in PDF documents if the point is to attempt to further monetize PDF. What’s the point?

    I tend to agree with Nico that each excessively bloated release of Acrobat is driving more of us toward Foxit. At least Foxit “pops” onscreen when clicked whereas Acrobat is excruciatingly slow and does pretty much everything I need a PDF view to do.

  4. I’ve been hoping for ages that interactive Flash could be added to a pdf. In research, the unit of publication is still seen as the published ‘paper’, yet most of the research I do is about putting complicated concepts together in exploratory ways using Flash. The problem is that it’s never seen as ‘real research’ because most academics (well the digital immigrants at least) only see research as what gets written in the paper.
    Given that most researchers download their articles in pdf form, Interactive Flash in pdf could bridge that gap and provide a means of ‘illustrating’ the article with something more than a flat graphic, yet allow the publication to be quantified and transmitted as a single item (for peer-review etc). There are so many more concepts you can get across once you move beyond static representation.

  5. I think you hit the nail on the head with the restrictive size limits comment. I could see it being a very useful tool, but on the same token I can see it being a complete waste.

    If they were able to compress the flash enough, the idea of an interactive PDF file for educational and instructive purposes sounds interesting.

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