General discussion

Firefox: view as HTML doesn?t work

I wonder what happened to my ?View as HTML? function in Firefox? Starting a few weeks ago, I noticed that whenever I tried to view slow-loading documents in PDF or, say, DOC formats as HTML, the documents appeared in *one-point-sized* fonts. All pages are too small to read.

It may not be directly Firefox?s fault because this error started even before I upgraded the other day to FF 3.6.2 from the previous version.

So what do you think it could it be? Some setting in my computer gone wild? Previously, ?View as HTML? always worked flawlessly, letting me see any document quickly to decide if it was worth opening or downloading. Thanks for any advice.

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View as HTML

Hi flingwing. Did you ever get the "Work offline" problem solved? I dread seeing you posting in this Browser forum, 'cause I could never help with that, Devil

About this "View as HTML". I must admit I am a bit stumped as I have not heard of this term before, except in emails, so can you give some more information?

You mentioned "slow-loading PDF files". What does that mean, PDF files downloading from a web page into your browser, or downloading PDF files to your hard drive?

You also mentioned DOC formats as HTML. I would normally use Microsoft word to open .doc or Word 2007 for the following formats if they are Word 2007 files;
.docx A standard Word document with no macros or code
.dotx A Word template with no macros or code
.docm A Word document that could contain macros or code
.dotm A Word template that could contain macros or code


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More 'View as HTML'

Mark, first I feel it?s important that I publically "absolve" you of any and all encumbrances ? real or imagined ? concerning the ?work offline? imbroglio (Note: several good ?Words for the Day? in that last sentence, huh? <grin>. My problem was handled by this forum to my complete satisfaction <g>.

Kidding aside, the key to ending Firefox?s non-stop offline shift before was solved by disabling the ?link scanner? function in AVG anti-virus software. Or did that solve the non-stop crashing problem? I forget. However, I haven?t been bothered by offline shifts or crashing in a while. I?m very grateful for that, too <g>.

Now for the new Firefox problem. When doing a Google search, the search returns may include PDF files and MS Word (doc) files, right? Usually, Firefox gives you the option to ?View as HTML? most of those other types of files. This option is shown at the bottom right side of many PDF-formatted search return descriptions.

Further, this option exists, I am sure, because clicking to load a PDF file directly into your browser has always taken much longer than loading an HTML-formatted page. So if we want to see what is in a PDF file before loading it into our browser ? or downloading it to our hard drive ? we can view it as HTML first (although with little or no formatting) to see if its contents have value to us.

NOTE: the time it takes to download a PDF (or DOC) file to a hard drive takes the normally required amount of time based on file size (bytes). Again, it is only when displaying a PDF file in a browser window (any browser is my experience) does it take more time than it does for HTML files. This problem is similar when working with MS Word files through a browser window. However, PDF files are the slowest loaders.

So, the problem for me is that now ?View as HTML? in Firefox (3.6.2 and the previous version) do not work. The documents display using ? literally ? one-point type. You cannot read it. If you click on the poorly displayed document in your FF window, it?ll just give you the choice of downloading it to your hard drive. So this means a great time saver in viewing documents before downloading them no longer exists in Firefox.

Sorry - that?s not as clear an explanation as I?d like to make, but this problem is still confusing for me, too. If anyone has a further question or an idea for a fix, please ask or say. I?m monitoring this thread via email. Thanks much.

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Re: view as html

I think I see what you mean. Google sometimes offers the option to view a pdf or doc search result in html. And sometimes Google doesn't. In fact, with me at the moment it doesn't at all, so I can't reproduce your problem.

Anyway, it's not an option Firefox gives, but an option offered by Google to translate that pdf of doc to html before giving it to your browser. Firefox has nothing to do with it. All it does: show you the html Google sends. If anything is wrong with it, it seems more like a Google problem than a Firefox-problem.

My suggestions:
- Try the same search in IE, and the same "view as html" option in IE. What happens?
- Please provide a link that consistently and reproducibly gives such a google result, so that somebody here can click on that "view as pdf" link and see what happens.


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It's Google's turn in the barrel

Kees, that is very observant <grin>. Because Firefox was acting up for so long for so many people, I just assumed the problem belonged to FF again.

You?re right ? the options for ?view as HTML? are very rare now ? in Firefox and, as I just checked, in Internet Explorer, too.
Previously, perhaps 70-80 percent of all PDF files on the Internet could be viewed as HTML through Google. Now I see that option is virtually gone.

Added to that problem is that Google's apparent replacement for ?View as HTML? is now ?Quick View?. However, this, too, is becoming more rare. Quick View has the added problem that it opens the file in a window like does to view pages inside a book. You can view the pages but you cannot copy text from the on ?screen text. You can download the entire file after viewing it but you can?t copy and paste directly from the browser window.

This is not as useful as ?View as HTML?. Sometimes, while working, a person is looking for a quote or some specific data and you can see it in the PDF file viewed as HTML. Previously, you could just mouse highlight and copy the lines you wanted and paste them into a text document. You didn?t have to download a large , megabyte file just to copy a few sentences from it.

So now, I guess the investigation must shift to Google. What did they do to make their web search site less useful? With that, I wonder *why* did they do it? It can?t be copyright issues, because you can still download these PDF files. All they did was remove a very quick, useful function and replaced it with one that is less useful.
I?m sure it?s going to take some real diligence to write Google to find out why they screwed up their search engine.

Kees, once again, thanks very much for that insight. I probably would never have realized it?s Google that is the villain this time.

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Very interesting.

It's me this time, not Kees. Some might think we work as a "Good cop, bad cop" team. Obviously I would be the "Good cop".

That's very interesting, and I hadn't seen this until now. Kees was right of course, as you now confirm, this isn't a browser specific problem, but a change in the way Google displays and offers it's results. Progress!

You have also now noticed that Google offers a "Quick view" option, and I assume that is instead of the 'view pdf' or view as html' options in the past.

I think this change is something we're going to have to get used to, but I did notice one thing.

To confirm what was being said, I did a Google search for just PDF. You, Kees and myself will all probably get different results for this term as Kees and I are in Europe and I guess you are in the States. But try that, and find a list that has a Quick View option. Right click that and select "Open in new tab". Why right click? It's easier and quicker just to return to the listing tab than having it reload again.

I've just tried a couple and top left of the browser web page I can see the options;

Download (xxxK) Print (x pages) Plain HTML
(xxxK means Kbytes and x pages means the number of pages).

So, you can still view the PDF in plain HTML format, and you can copy text from there. I can't see a way to copy text in the PDF format though. I can highlight text, but right click does not offer a copy option.

Ahh! Circles and hoops.....

At the top of the HTML page, Google says this;

"This is the html version of the file http://www.{link-site-here}.pdf.
Google automatically generates html versions of documents as we crawl the web."

If you now click that link, you get the proper PDF in a browser page, and from there you can copy text.

There's a moral here. The quick views are just that, quick views, and you can't do much with them. But opening the actual link itself gives the full PDF which you can view as normal.


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Extra thoughts

?Obviously I would be the ?Good cop?". Regular NYPD Blue, you two guys <grin>.

Yes, the problem is Google. It seems to be self-destructing!

?. . . and I guess you are in the States?. Almost. I?m *from* the States but I?ve lived in Asia - long term <grin>. That?s why my posts and replies are 7-12 hours out of sync, time-wise.

You?re right about the Quick View: you can download the file after viewing it. But the problem is *very often* you don?t need the entire file. You do a search and can see from the Google synopsis that it has some text you want. So all you really want to do is open the file and copy that text. Then close the file forever.

However, opening even a 2-megabyte PDF in Firefox - the fastest browser - can take (what seems like) up to 5 minutes where I am. That?s too long to wait for a few words. Same with downloading - why do I want to wait for an admittedly faster download but then have to leave my browser, navigate to the PDF file, and then search the thing for that text I want? It?s now labor intensive all because Google decided it would do the right thing in China but not in the rest of the world <grin>.

I just did some more searches trying to find PDF returns with ?view as HTML? or ?Quick View?. They seem to be growing less by the hour. Why would Google get rid of a MAJOR benefit of its search engine?

Time to go to work here <g>. CU you guys later.

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