Friday, June 10, 2016

Reading Street And Printing; You Can Have Both

Teachers using Reading Street with their students have learned by now that Reading Street contains audio embedded in PDF files. Why embed audio in a proprietary, cumbersome format when html 5 can handle rich media with much more open aplomb? I can't think of any good reason, but parent company Pearson has done just that; embed audio and other rich media in PDF files.

What's the problem? Well, the Chrome browser and Apple MacBooks each have their own built in PDF engines which, unfortunately**, do not support the Reading Street rich media. Each non-Adobe reader can open and view the PDF files, but they can not play the embedded rich media. Hence, no audio in Reading Street.

A simple answer would be to install Adboe's Acrobat Reader on your MacBook, and let it be the default PDF handler. That is a workable solution, except Chrome's default PDF viewer is required to print PDFs to district printers. If you install Acrobat Reader, the installation breaks your ability to print to a district printer. Grr!

You can have both worlds though; a working Reading Street, and your ability to print PDFs to district printers. All you have to do is toggle between which PDF engine you want to handle PDFs. Assuming you have Adobe's Acrobat Reader installed and Chrome on your MacBook, you can quickly switch between printing ability and Reading Street functionality. Here's how:

  • With your Chrome browser, go to chrome://plugins. Bookmarking this page will make it easier to find later.
  • Look for the Chrome PDF Viewer section.
  • Click the disable link. See image below. The link will turn into an 'Enable' link. At this point, you are in Reading Street mode and the rich media embedded in Reading Street's PDFs will play through Adobe Acrobat Reader. 

  • To restore your ability to print PDFs to district printers, return to chrome://plugins.
  • Look for and click the Enable link underneath the Chrome PDF Viewer section.
  • The link will change to a 'Disable' link. At this point, you will be able to print PDFs to district printers.

** Your measure of fortune is dependent on your perspective. Your MacBook's preview feature and Chrome's built in PDF viewer can't deal with the rich media so thoughtlessly jammed into the PDFs, but their inability to deal with the media ultimately makes them faster, more nimble, and certainly more secure.