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Voices from the Community about current pdf use
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All names are anonymized

Summaries of discussions at Wikimania 2016.

Anthony, Ukrainian volunteer, who has been active since 5 years in wikipedia, meta, wikidata

  • Last time he used the “download as pdf” link was when trying to download the program for the wikimania hackathon, which resulted in him printing lots of table headings but no real contents

  • What he likes about the latex pdf is the packed layout. He has to ask for paper, so the less there is to print the better

Bertram, European chapter employee

  • prints travel imbursement table forms, either through browser or printable version
  • never save a pdf for offline use „I’m always online“

Cecilia, Wikipedia reader from southern Africa

  • “I copied the Wikimania info into a word doc, since otherwise I would have printed 4 pages with just a url footer”

Daisy, German wikipedia editor

  • Sometimes downloads articles to read them on the train
  • Also sometimes saves article PDFs whose content she might use for work, which allows her to „have all the references together in one place“

Edward, German longterm wikipedia editor and administrator

  • Before the last change, when the company was still active, the feature used to work very well. With the last change, the support for libreoffice, epub was dropped which was already a pity.
  • The WMF has lots of money. They cannot say, that they don’t have resources for the feature. This is simply not true.
  • He does not like to use the „printable version“ option, because it does not have the nice formatting
  • He likes the book function, because it allows you to only print once if you want to have a collection of articles. Also, it is all in one pdf in the order he selected, and he has a table of contents which he likes

Patterns that seemed to appear during Wikimania 2016:

  • There seems to be a difference between printing and offline reading. For printing it is much more about the conciseness of a page
  • In countries, where a lot of people seem to have a smart phone with flatrate, printing pdfs for offline use does not seem to be as much of an issue. But what about all regions, where flatrates are not common?
  • Layouting seems to be of far greater importance for books than for article PDFs

Feedback when asking the German community if they would like to have electron-rendered PDFs next to the current latex version (even if it does not support books, and if the styling is not improved)[1]:
This is freely translated from German

  • Person1: Yes. Especially for articles with lots of tables, the current solution was a joke. Electron has disadvantages on the lay outing side, but at least it is complete
  • Person2: PDFs without tables are useless for list based articles. I don’t see an advantage of the new solution compared with the printable version. […] I still dream of an export version that supports all the features, maybe in landscape format?
  • Person3: Yes. Please check if the local print.css can be taken into account, for project specific adaptations to the print layout
  • Person4: Clear yes.The sample article shows clearly that leaving out tables from PDFS makes some article PDFs completely useless, since important facts are missing
  • Person5: Yes, but of course this solution is not really satisfying either. Readers who use the PDF function expect to receive a complete article in the PDF format.
  • Person6: Yes. I quite like the new suggestion. I don’t like the two-column layout of latex. It might look better, if you have only text, but there are already massive problems if you just have images that are a bit bigger than the column width. I don’t think it helps the reader if for reasons of so-called „elegancy“ of presentation some parts of the article are simply left out. If tables cannot be realized with latex, latex is not the appropriate format for pdf rendering. Maybe with the new suggestion it might even be easier to realize other wishes, such as clickable references in PDFs.
  • Person7: Yes, definitely, ideally before WLM in September. Thinking further, it would be great if the topic PDF export is also taken into consideration when tables are generated with wikidata.
  • Person8: Yes. Two-column layout is only subjectively a better option. But many articles contain tables, and these contain valuable information
  • Person9: Yes. It is a good solution that could be developed further (such as improving line breaks, new features, etc)
  • 4 more Yes

Typical (real) email to German wikimedia support team from August 2016
translated in English:

Hello,
I compilated a book from multiple pages, which I would like to download as PDF. Unfortunately the PDF creation is canceled with the following error: >"Status: Bundling process died with non zero code: 1"
Where could the error come from and what do I need to do for my PDF to be created so I can download it?
The link to the book is : <Link>
Thank you.
Best
<name>

original version in German:

Hallo,
ich habe mir aus verschiedenen Seiten ein Buch zusammen gestellt, welches ich
gerne als PDF herunterladen würde.
Leider wird die PDF-erstellung mit folgendem Fehler abgebrochen.
Status: Bundling process died with non zero code: 1
Wo könnte der Fehler liegen, bzw. was muss ich tun, um mein PDF erstellen zu
lassen und herunterladen können?
Der Link zum Buch ist
https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/<user_name>/B%C3%BCcher/Elektronik
Vielen Dank
Grüße

[1]: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_Diskussion:Technische_W%C3%BCnsche/Topw%C3%BCnsche#Tabellen_in_PDFs_darstellen