Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Printable content on blogs

The topic of having links/buttons/commands on blogs that allow a page to be _properly_ printed is a thorn that's stuck in my side for quite awhile. It's been irritating me more and more lately, as I've backslid into archiving all interesting posts I find and pasting them into a Word document, for later printing and more attentive reading that the loads of crap I otherwise dismiss.

But the problem remains - despite vast innovations in weblogs (advanced archiving, syndication, formatting, comment systems, moderation, etc.) the basic premise of allowing content to be rendered so that it'll print properly is sorely missing. I realize I may be of the minority voice here, but I still print out my stuff.

And I'm not overlooking just commonplace bloggers, either. Mainstream media, primarily news sites, typically use the 'Print this article' link, but more and more these days are lazily only allowing such functionality to call up the client's print queue command. That's stupid, because it doesn't solve the problem of making the page more printer-friendly, which is the whole point.

What I want to see is a link that strips a normal page of all its justification, formatting, tabling, and other accoutrement - just giving me the content. If there are ads, so be it. I don't mind. I just can't stand losing out on information due to incessant formatting.

I find the best example of printable content on the web to be O'Reilly (see the actual page vs. the printable format), and that cool reformatting employed by NewsHutch. It's usability I echoed on my own site. I guess the next generation of this would be a we service that would tak page content and make it print-friendly, and/or dynamically format the content as a PDF, for ultimat6e cross-platform compatibility.

Sounds like a Web 2.0 service waiting to be invented. :-)


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