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Key interactions in Reader 2020

Last updated on January 12, 2020

The Question

For serious (PDF) document (particularly academic documents) reading on a macOS device (at least initially), how can we conceive of, invent and build in a reasonable timeframe (around 6 months) and at a cost we can raise (through donations), interactions for reading which really demonstrate the potential of augmenting the reading experience:

  • in order to improve the readers ability to grasp the text in a critical way and
  • to produce insights from within the text as well as
  • how it connects to other knowledge and
  • to further augment the reader ability to refer to the text in an efficient manner for future reading?

In response to the question I have written this initial plan. Please review and comment below (feeling free to link to external resources of course) any thoughts. I do request that you make one comment or one blog post for each point you want to make in order to keep the dialog as clean and easy to follow, if you don’t mind. :-)

Show ’em, don’t tell ’em
Ed Leahy

Custom Authorship & Visual Meta

Even though the basic substrate is PDF, the PDF version book will be authored in Author (the printed version is being built in InDesign and will be printed by Blurbs if we print independently) so that we can expect to design the visual-meta to a highly polished degree to make it possible to have richer interactions with the PDF while keeping it open for all other current PDF viewers to open.

Through Visual-Meta, the Reader will know:

  • Who wrote what section/article (what contributing author)
  • How the book is organised by headings (for different views)
  • The name of the document for document-addressability, not only by citation and links
  • What locations are available to allow for internal high-resolution links to sections
  • The easy creation of links to within the PDF to be used by other documents citing this work
  • Potentially more, should it become useful


To support these goals, the interactions are based around a clean and minimal reading experience, focused particularly on on full-screen reading, where the user can pinch to fold the document into a table of contents (where any annotations will appear). The user can further select any text and cmd-f to see only the sentences with the selected text, plus headings, in the same view as the table of contents view. Denser sections can be enlarged and opened with a quick select and a quick tap on the spacebar.

Further explained: for more information and mockups.


Citations can be clicked on to provide more information and text can be copied as citation, including knowing the section author, which will link to the document and the specific section the text was copied from. Reader will also support Liquid Flow.

For more information: for more information and mockups.

Published inBookCitation MetaReaderVisual-Meta

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