What is PDF optimization process and how is it useful to you?

In today's fast-paced world, internet users expect promptness and fast service. They also expect instant document viewing and accessibility. If you want to share, show or stream your PDF files over the web, you should be aware of one fact. Many PDFs used on websites are designed for high-quality print output, but they are usually not optimized for Web-viewing.

Large PDFs have the disadvantage of long loading time before they are displayed. But optimized PDF (i.e. linearized PDF) which can be displayed quickly, though not completely, alleviate this difficulty.

Interested to know – Is there really a way to make your PDF content visible and easily accessible on the web? Find out below.

What is PDF optimization?

PDF optimization is often overlooked when creating PDF files for the Web. When we talk about it, we are actually talking about "PDF linearization" also known as "Fast Web View". All of these terms describe a process of organizing a PDF file to make it easier to be read in a browser.

The goal of optimizing PDF is to allow a streaming-like behavior on the Web. The user can interact with the first displayed page, start reading and using it online, while the rest of the PDF document is still downloading.

Why should I optimize a PDF for the Web use?

As established, a PDF optimized for web-viewing is structurally prepared in such a way that it is displayed more quickly when opened on the Internet. It does not have to be downloaded completely before it can be displayed.

When publishing PDF documents on the Internet, we always prioritize the user experience and an optimized PDF surely makes a difference. The elements inside the PDF are loaded more dynamically. Optimizing PDF files for the Web can significantly compress their size, boost display speed and make it more convenient for the user.

Since the content is increasingly being consumed on mobile devices, the usual way of downloading first and viewing afterwards is not optimal. Also, when working in mobile browsers, web-optimized PDF improves reliability where there is limited memory.

The difference between a regular and web-optimized PDF?

So, why exactly can the optimized PDF files be displayed on the Web faster than normal PDF files? Because all data required to show the first page can be loaded first. This is made possible through a special organization of the PDF file itself.

A regular PDF file is basically a set of objects and when the file is read through the web, it is accessed as a stream of bytes. It contains all the file information (the references to these streams) at the end of the file. So when the file is opened over the internet the information cannot be read until the whole PDF file has been downloaded. If we are dealing with large files with multiple pages, this can cause an inconvenience.

Unlike the regular, if we have an optimized PDF, it creates a specific “linear” structure of data at the beginning of the document. The data contain references for the first page and for the rest of the objects in the document. As a result, when the document is opened through the web, the first page can be immediately displayed even while the other pages are still downloading. If the user goes to another page, that page can be also downloaded and displayed independently from other pages.

When to use optimized documents?

Optimizing PDF files for local access and non-browser use is not necessary. The same is true for optimizing a single-page PDF, a small-sized one or a text-based multi-page PDF. Additionally, linearization is also not needed when creating PDF files for long-term archiving (PDF/A files), because viewers are required to ignore linearization information for that kind of documents.

In conclusion – the process of optimizing PDF for Web use is the best for large, multi-paged PDF documents (supposed to be viewed through a web or a network). So, whenever distributing a large PDF document online, you should always optimize the PDF first.

How to create an optimized PDF for easy web-viewing?

Optimizing PDF files for a fast web view is not as difficult as you might think. One of the best ways to optimize a PDF for your website is to make use of PDF2Go's free online tool. It will help to remove unnecessary objects and compress PDF files containing images. This is a very simple process that should take just a few minutes.

All you have to do is: Go to PDF2Go's - Fast Web View optimization tool page. Upload the document and click on "Start" to begin optimizing the PDF. And just like that, your PDF is web-viewing ready!