Foxit Reader: Close, oh so close

Sigh, I had a nice long post ready here to guide frustrated C&I readers to a small, fast PDF reader: Foxit Reader. Recommended by PC World, it’s a free under-3MB download (one .exe file, no install, may cause security questions since it’s an executable) that starts up in a second or so and looks to have most Adobe Reader functionality. Not much speed improvement over Adobe Reader 7, but a lot better than the initial “let’s load umpteen pieces” Reader 6 startup.

Only one problem (well, three: Making it the active reader in Firefox is a slight nuisance, and there’s no text-to-speech capability):

For C&I, at least, the printouts aren’t identical to the original. It appears that Foxit Reader is doing something strange with embedded fonts–perhaps emulating them or just not getting them quite right. The results are that spacing’s a little off here and there, and the Berkeley Bold I use for boldface (which is not a bold version of Berkeley Book, the regular text face) is badly off, looking like something’s wrong with the type. Small differences, but the result is a slightly “jaggedy” page. If I hadn’t spent my own money and a fair amount of time getting C&I to look as good as possible, I might not care–but I did, so I do, and the clash between the magnificent Berkeley Book typeface and the slightly helter-skelter outpout from Foxit was too much to deal with.

If none of that matters to you, you might find Foxit Reader worthwhile. As it stands, I can’t recommend it (so won’t provide a download link): After all, the whole point of PDF is presenting an accurate rendition.

Well, there’s an hour or two of my own time (at home and at lunch) wasted; now to go home this evening and restore Adobe as the PDF viewer of choice in IE and Firefox.

Note: The Foxit spacing problem has since been solved, but I haven’t had occasion to do a new check. It may be a good alternative to Reader.

2 Responses to “Foxit Reader: Close, oh so close”

  1. Harm ten Napel Says:

    Hi Walt,

    right on target! I downloaded and installed this high hyped
    pdf reader Foxit reader and noticed within minutes it messed
    up embedded fonts and that’s what the P in PDF all stands
    for: portable. You just have to consider at Adobe they know
    a few things about typfonts, you just won’t get functionality
    in about 1.5 Mbyte of code like that, but this may be a reminder
    to Adobe to make their reader a bit more lean,



  2. walt Says:

    Foxit has changed since that message. The newer version tests out “close enough for jazz” on my sample documents. I haven’t written anything up because I haven’t done comprehensive tests–but, at least on the samples I’ve done, I don’t believe most people would notice the slightly coarser feel of the type. It’s MUCH better.

    On the other hand, Reader 7 is fast enough that I don’t feel the need to switch…(at work I still can’t upgrade to 7, but that problem should go away in a week). Reader 7 appears to be much leaner and cleaner than 6…

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