File Formats – and why ZIP?

Why are the downloadable files in ZIP format?

After much deliberation we decided that the ZIP format was the only universal file type that would reliably prompt the Customer to consciously save the download.

Modern browsers are often set to open and display PDF files directly from a link on a web page without prompting for them to be saved and they become subsequently ‘lost’ when the the browser is closed. Whilst the file is still stored in the temporary cache and available if you know where to look, for most delving into the deepest part of their computer is not a palatable matter!

Therefore when presented with a ZIP file for download, the user is invariably asked how and where it is to be stored.

Most if not all modern computers view a ZIP-ped file in a native form, that is without the need to acquire any special software to extract the contents. Usually double-clicking on the download ZIP file is sufficient to reveal the contents and permit immediate access.

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File types used.

The most common file we use is the Portable Document Format [PDF] which has traditionally been used for archival and other document purpose, mainly because it is scalable, can be searched and most importantly, is considered a universal ‘cross-platform’ product permitting it to be read on any computer regardless of operating system.

This is a perfect format when displaying scanned or photographed old documents or books and displaying in the original form, with the associated searchable text embedded within.

Other formats include the .mobi for Kindle users and the.epub for most other readers. The .mobi file is Amazon’s proprietary variant whereas the .epub is more widely used by everyone else. These files are often extremely small and download in a trice.

Either of the latter two formats are absolutely ideal for ebooks which are predominantly text-only, or with just a smattering of small graphics or images. This is because the User can control his/her electronic reader’s screen to display text at a size and pitch to suit them self and therefore the text ‘flows’ from line to line and from page to page.