Programmers Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional programmers interested in conceptual questions about software development. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Just need a bit of advice here, if we embed Adobe Reader as an activex control, as well as have a fallback PDF viewer (in case the user doesn't have Adobe Reader installed) would it be wiser to put screenshots in the manual using whatever the latest version of Adobe Reader is, or using the fallback reader?

I can see the drawbacks and benefits of both. For one thing, the look and feel of the fallback reader is constant, whereas Adobe Reader changes, so we don't have to redo the manual as often. But we expect that 90% of users will have Adobe Reader, so what they see in the manual won't even be what's in the program if we use the fallback reader for screenshots.

So what's the solution. Adobe, Fallback Reader or Both?

(For the record, the manual is a CHM, not a PDF)

share|improve this question
Does Adobe really change their L&F so drastically between versions of Reader that it could potentially confuse your users when the screenshots are not 100% pixel representations of what is in front of the screen that very moment? If so then they have no business using a computer. – maple_shaft Feb 29 '12 at 19:38
Nurses are my end users, nurses are my testers. I'm not knocking nurses and neither should you, but yes this is a serious consideration for them and yes, in my opinion, Adobe does drastically change the look and feel of their reader between major versions. – Peter Turner Feb 29 '12 at 19:45
What is the fallback reader? Is there a particular reason (missing features) you cant use that as the main reader? I ask because I do something similar in one of my apps, and can use a good fallback pdf viewer! – GrandmasterB Feb 29 '12 at 19:55
@maple_shaft, yeah, the gui for adobe reader does change a good bit between versions. – GrandmasterB Feb 29 '12 at 19:57
@GrandmasterB I'm not entirely certain any more why we don't use it as the main viewer (that's sort a recent topic of conversation between me and the guy who handed off the project to me). We avoided embedding the activex control until recently - the fallback reader is QuickPDF and it works just as well (we use it for generating the PDFs in the first place). – Peter Turner Feb 29 '12 at 20:05

...what they see in the manual won't even be what's in the program if we use the fallback reader for screenshots

To me above reads as screen shots made that way would be useless (or almost useless). This makes a pretty strong case in favor of Adobe option.

Also it makes sense to smoke test how the manual looks in the fallback reader before releasing it. If testing shows that problem with particular screen shot breaks a large portion of manual when viewed that way, you may reconsider a general preference for that screen shot. Images hacked for fallback reader would need to be re-tested with Adobe.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.