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How do I convert PDF to HTML5?


There is no doubt that the future for publishing is still being determined, but whether or not that future includes HTML5 is up for debate. For a while apps were seen as the saviour of print circulation decline and rising distribution costs, but now web apps (browser based applications) are very much part of that future as well.

At Realview we have never used flash when converting PDF to flipbook – we came close, but we decided against it around 10 years ago and went straight to a HTML5 flipbook solution. That was a good decision, for as we know, when the iPad was launched, Steve Jobs decided that iOS would not support flash.

Most of our competitors who offered PDF to flipbook were using flash, and had to develop a HTML5 flipbook that would work on iPad, and later on Android devices. To this day many of them still have two versions of their solution, one for tablet devices, and one for everything else, done in flash.

But just what is HTML5, specifically in the context of publishing? Let’s bust some myths!

PDF to HTML5 conversion results in a responsive design.

HTML5 in itself is not responsive. HTML5 is the latest HTML standard that is supported to different degrees across the popular modern browsers. Think of responsive design as a series of elements in a grid that adjust their position based on screen size and orientation. You can use some of the features of HTML5 in order to make a website responsive, but just because it is HTML5 does not mean the content is going to ‘flow’  and fit a particular device screen size and orientation.

A HTML5 flipbook is an adaptive design.

Similar to the statement above, just because something is HTML5, doesn’t mean it is an adaptive design. Adaptive design is different to responsive design.  Adaptive design means that the website adjusts things like image size or menu layout, to suit a particular device, orientation and bandwidth. Most websites that have been optimized for mobile are using adaptive design.

A HTML5 flip book is text and images.

This is not necessarily true either; a PDF can be converted into images and then HTML5 is used to present those images as digital replica pages. This is the approach that Realview currently employs.

So does PDF to HTML5 exist?

There are some technologies that exist out there that convert a PDF into a digital replica using text and images to recreate the page in HTML (sometimes using features only found in the latest HTML version, 5). But, when some publishers and technologists talk about converting PDF into HTML5 for magazines and newspapers, what they are really talking about is HTML5 content that is adaptable, responsive and reflows to fit the device screen whilst retaining the integrity of design. That, my friends, is the holy grail of publishing, and does not exist. Yet…

View: PDF to HTML5 for mobile