How To Embed 3D PDF Into A Blog PostOthers Saturday, May 1st, 2010
I received a few comments to my post titled “How To Embed A 3D VIA Model Into A Blog Post“. One reader left a comment stating that he could not get the 3D VIA Player to show my model on his Mac. Later he posted an update stating that the player does not work on the latest 64 bit Mac OSX. Another reader lamented on the need to download yet another player. Well, since the 3D XML format is far from open, a proprietary player will always be required. Yet another user commented that the 3D VIA Player did not support Firefox 3.5 on ubuntu. Finally another reader started bitching about how the user had to be logged in as administrator before installing the player, which most users are not.
That was it. I knew there was something seriously wrong with this 3D VIA approach. The point of embedding 3D models into my blog posts, or for that matter any web page, was to make things easy for readers, not frustrate them. Instead of stopping at bitching, the last commenter went ahead and suggested that I use 3D PDF instead of 3D XML since just about everyone has the free Adobe Reader installed on their computers and which happens to work on just about every operating system (see the extensive list here). I thought this was a great idea and went about trying to figure out exactly how I could embed a 3D PDF into a WordPress blog post.
As it turns out, I needed a WordPress plug-in to embed objects into a blog post. I found one aptly titled Embed Object and it worked just fine. You should see my rose model inside a 400×300 Adobe Reader window immediately after this line.
[embeded: src="http://www.deelip.com/models/2010-05-01-Rose.pdf#toolbar=0&scrollbar=0&navpanes=0" width="400" height="300"]
If you don’t see it, please leave a comment and let me know which operating system and browser you are using.
All that you need to do is specify the URL of the PDF file and the width and height of the window that you want the Adobe Reader to squeeze itself into. The tag that you need to add to the text of your post is of the form:
[ embedded: src width height]
Note: You will need to remove the space between ‘[‘ and ‘embedded’.
However, there is something else that needs mentioning here. When the Adobe Reader is embedded into a web page it also comes with the toolbar, scroll bars and navigation pane. This takes up a lot of real estate and leaves hardly any space for the 3D model to display itself. There is a solution to this problem. The Adobe Reader accepts command line parameters which can be used to control how it behaves and looks. For example, if I want to open a PDF file in the Adobe Reader with the toolbar turned off I can type the following at the command prompt:
AcroRd32.exe /A “toolbar=0″ C:\Rose.pdf
where AcroRd32.exe is the name of the Adobe Reader executable and the string (in quotes) after /A contains the command line parameters. In the case above I set toolbar to zero, which has the effect of turning off the toolbar when the Reader starts up. Similarly, you can set up the Reader’s parameters when embedding it into a web page as well. This is done by supplying the parameters in the URL of the PDF file. So in order to hide the toolbar, scroll bar and navigation pane I use the following URL:
If you want to know more about Adobe Reader’s parameters you can read this document published by Adobe way back in 2005 for Adobe Acrobat 7.0, but which is still valid today.
The only drawback I see with this approach is that you need to come up with a 3D PDF file to begin with, for which you need Adobe Acrobat Pro Extended which is priced at $699 or some other 3D PDF authoring software. I am not aware of any free 3D PDF creation software. If you know of any, please leave a comment. I will update this post with your information. The cheapest software I know what lets you create 3D PDF files from solid models is the $197 Alibre Design Standard.