Bytes and Bobs: Tablets the Best Target for Mobile PDF Development

With our recent release of iOS- and Android-compatibility for Debenu Quick PDF Library, I thought it was a good time to reflect about the kinds of things it might be used for. Not long ago, I wrote a post about how I think that the PDF development opportunities for wearables like smart watches are pretty limited — potentially very useful, but definitely narrow in scope. Things like electronic ticketing seem like the best wearable PDF prospects to me. With that in mind, what is the point of a mobile PDF SDK that does anything more than viewing?

I’m glad you asked (sort of). It’s a good question, and one we obviously had to think about before we decided to build the mobile version of Debenu Quick PDF Library. Actually, I think that the real answer lies in the tablet space, which means that I agree with iText’s Bruno Lowagie, who was interviewed on Planet PDF a little while ago.

Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 with detachable keyboard.

Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3. Image originally appeared on (

Tablets represent a middle-ground between relatively powerful desktops (or even laptops) at one end and the far more mobile smartphones and (going forward), ultra-portable wearables. Indeed, the rise of hybrid devices like Microsoft’s Surface Pro are a kind of de facto acknowledgement that vendors know that their users want to work on tablets. Interestingly, Microsoft initially spurned the iPad as an entertainment device, refusing to develop a proper version of Office for the platform. Business users voted with their wallets, however, and when Microsoft finally capitulated, it ended up creating what has been called its “best touch-oriented software ever”. I have a friend who quite happily writes (precisely formatted) academic journal articles using Word on his iPad.

Some key software vendors are now employing technical and licensing solutions that are simply very friendly for those who want to work across a variety of devices, including tablets and/or smartphones. To stay with the example of Microsoft Office for a moment, each Office 365 subscription lets a user activate and install Office on up to 5 desktops or laptops and up to 5 portable iOS- or Android-based devices. If you have enough battery power and access to the appropriate files, there’s just no need to stop working when you are on the go if you have a tablet. As smartphones get larger and more powerful, creating the new “phablet” space, this statement is ever more true of them, too.

Tablets are particularly good for consuming and working with PDF. They balance portability with power and boast form factors that are comfortable for reading and editing. Of course, developing software for them poses unique challenges — even Adobe’s Reader Mobile SDK only handles rendering/viewing. That won’t necessarily be enough functionality for an increasingly mobile workforce, though. That fact has been a jumping-off point for both application developers and those like Debenu, who seek to provide them with adequate development tools for the shifting technological landscape. Ultimately, it was recognition of this need that inspired the development of the new cross-platform, mobile-ready version of Debenu Quick PDF Library. Now that we have released it, I’ll keep talking about it in this space, posting interesting or especially helpful samples here in this blog. We’re developers too, and we really would like the new library to be as usable as possible. We believe in it, and encourage participation from you, our developer community.

If you want to try out the new library for yourself, beta versions of the Win, Mac and iOS builds are currently available for download from Debenu Labs. If you do check it out, please let us know what you think. The choice to build and release this latest version of Debenu Quick PDF Library was driven by feedback from our developers, and we welcome your thoughts on how we’ve done so far.

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