February 18, 2015 Last Updated 8:53 am

App Publisher interview preview: Claudia Zimmer from Aquafadas on PDF versus going native

Paul Blake’s interviews Claudia Zimmer, president and co-founder of Aquafadas, on a range of topics including whether a publisher should go replica or native with their digital editions

Claudia Zimmer is a thoughtful commentator on the industry that Aquafadas, the company she co-founded in 2004, had become one of the most active and agile players in. Unusually for the sector, Aquafadas is not a company formed out of the publishing industry – it began life as a developer of video editing software. That gives it a slightly different perspective on the magazine business and when I spoke to Claudia Zimmer we covered topics as broad as the biggest challenges facing publishers in the next 2–3 years, the smartphone as a publishing platform, and why the web is making a comeback, but we started on familiar ground – should publishers adopt PDF or go native?

On whether publishers should adopt PDF or go native

“There is no universal answer. It’s an editorial choice. One of our clients, Elle, chooses, for example, not to change the layout of their magazine. They just have a really powerful PDF reader and make sure that the resolution of the content is crisp, beautiful and doesn’t take too long to download. Then you have Marie Claire, which is a competitor, with a completely different approach. They redesign everything.

claudia-smOur position is to give publishers the tools and not to limit them. It’s the role of the publisher to speak to their audience and make sure that they bring what the clients are looking for. We’re an enabler. We bring the technology to do one or the other.

Right now, publishers want to be able to create digital editions at very low cost, almost automatically, and yet have the look and feel of something that has been built completely by hand. So that’s the technology which we’re working on with some clients – an automated workflow that combines extraction of the text from PDF and puts it in templates that can be changed by hand by the designers.

The corporate world is still very PDF-based, although functionality like search and being able to make annotations are key. In the magazine world, particular in fashion, being able to create beautiful content is key. So needs are very different depending on the publisher and the sector. Not all the publishers are at the same stage as well and we take them where they are and make sure that we build a solution around their needs. For some clients we start from the PDF, others have a proper CMS and are able to generate more automated content without going through the PDF phase. Publishers have to think about costs and workflow is the key to that.”


This is the first part of the interview with Paul Blake, with the complete interview available in the January-February issue of App Publisher. The app has been relaunched inside the Apple Newsstand, and a brand new app launched into Google Play.

  • Tablazines 3 years ago

    Interesting interview. Way too short. Lol

    • D.B. Hebbard 3 years ago

      Sorry, have to give you some reason to buy the issue. 😉