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I Need a nice PDF Viewer for my new Drupal 7 Website. Here is a Solution.

I was working on a Drupal website and needed to add a new feature: to upload and display PDF files in the browser. As I browsed the options on drupal.org, I realized I would need to choose from several modules and decide on the most appropriate one for the job. Here is an account of my decision making process.

1.       The first step is to perform needs analysis. In other words, I needed to define what I wanted. Do I want to have fancy page-turning feature that some third-party vendors supply? Not at this time.

2.       My website is built with Drupal 7 so I need to have a Drupal 7 version. I also want to follow the general guidelines for choosing a Drupal module. Bascially, I want to choose a module that has several thousand downloads. This will ensure that it is stable and widely used and being actively supported with current bug fixes and security fixes. I try to avoid contributed modules that have a licensing fee.

3.       I’m trying to avoid using a third-party service to upload and display PDFs. This will enable the PDFs to be displayed very quickly without relying on another web provider. For videos, I’m happy to post the content on YouTube or Vimeo and then embed it on a Drupal site, but for PDF’s, I wanted to avoid third-party services.
 
I found this page on Drupal.org that compares several PDF viewer modules: http://drupal.org/node/1781960

1.       Embedded Google Docs Viewer
-          It has a Drupal 7 version
-          It has the added option of viewing PDF’s with Google docs viewer. Some clients may request this feature
-          It has 1718 downloads. I usually like to see at least 2000 downloads to demonstrate stability and ease of use
-          One drawback is that the last time the module was updated was October 2011. I prefer to have more recent contributions.

2.       PDF
-          Has a Drupal 7 version
-          Looks easy to use
-          It has 3003 installs
-          And it includes a demo
-          One drawback is that this module is actively seeking a co-maintainer. But the good news is that it has been recently updated on Feb. 10, 2014
-          I will download this module and test it out on a fresh Drupal installation.

3.       PDF Viewer
-          It has a Drupal 7 version
-          Looks easy to use
-          It has 3652 installs
-          It is actively maintained and is under active development
-          Last updated Feb. 12, 2014
-          I will definitely download this module and test it out on a fresh Drupal installation.
-          It works with Google Docs Viewer
-          It uses pdf.js – a PDF reader in Javascript
-          It also had direct PDF embed

I ended up going with PDF Viewer. It works for what I need it to do. Voila!

To use PDF_reader module:
1.       Add a field to a content type. Set it to be a File field.
2.       Edit display settings for that field and select Format: PDF Reader.
3.       Edit settings to your taste.