PDF files are an awkward format for distributing content on the web: PDFs are of excellent quality, and easy to read and print, but they are also considered a nuisance when you need to visualize information quickly.
Usually, to see a PDF file you need to request an application external to the web browser (a PDF reader plug in). But loading the application frequently takes much more time than loading a single web page.
PDF files also have the tendency to keep accumulating on the hard drive -- most of the time without any practical use. Thus, you end up with a lot of PDFs spread over your hard drive, and especially on the download folder.
Using the PDF Previewer in Gmail
A solution to some of the problems mentioned above has been implemented in Gmail. It is in the form of a quick previewer, that allows anyone to see the contents of a PDF file witout having to open Acrobat reader or similar programs.
If you receive an email in your Gmail account that contains a PDF attachment, you have the option to quickly preview the file. When you click view PDF, instead of loading an external application, Gmail will simply open a web page with some images displaying each of the pages of the document.
PDFs and GoogleDocs
The effect of previewing PDFs is not new if you ever used Google documents. For example, you can just as well load a PDF on Google documents and do the same manipulations.
The difference however is that, by clicking on the Gmail like, the document will be loaded into Google docs directly from Gmail.
- A good review of the PDF functionality in Gmail can be seen here: Gmail Gets Its Own PDF Viewer; My Computer Applauds
- A reference of PDF export on Google Docs