Apple's changes to macOS PDF handling stymie third-party developers, cause data loss

Posted:
in Mac Software edited January 3
Apple's changes to how it handles PDFs in macOS Sierra are causing problems with third-party utilities, with the most profound issue potentially causing the removal of an optical character recognition layer from user's files.




Adam Engst from long-time Mac journal TidBITS noted that while problems were widely publicized at Sierra's launch with ScanSnap scanner software, other issues have persisted after two updates, and in some cases gotten worse.

According to reports collated by Engst, and confirmed by AppleInsider, Apple has re-written the PDFKit framework in macOS 10.12 Sierra, and implemented a common core with iOS and macOS. However, this has caused some serious issues with software that relies on Apple's PDFKit.

"Those of us in the development community who relied upon Apple's PDFKit library were really slammed -- and we have no way to fix the problems ourselves," said MindWrap developer Craig Landrum. "There have been numerous bug reports sent to Apple on the several serious issues found with PDFKit and we hope Apple addresses them in an upcoming point release."
"I've never seen such a sorry case of sloppy code and indifference from Apple." - Bookends developer Jon Ashwell
While the ScanSnap problems have been mostly fixed, in part by both Fujitsu and Apple, problems are compounding, with Apple refusing to acknowledge some issues, and saying that the feature is operating as intended.

"PDF documents containing Eastern European characters created by the older ABBYY FineReader 8 engine are corrupted by PDFKit after editing," wrote developer Christian Grunenberg "And issues reported ... were simply closed with the response that Apple didn't intend to fix them."

In the most recent update to Sierra, users that edit PDFs in Preview are also discovering that saved OCR text layers generated by any utility relying on the ABBYY FineReader engine, including ScanSnap and Doxie, are stripped out by the Apple utility after a save.

"I've filed a number of radars with Apple, two of which were closed as duplicates. In another case, I was asked to provide our app, but after doing so there has been only silence," said Jon Ashwell, developer of the Bookends bibliography too. "I've never seen such a sorry case of sloppy code and indifference from Apple."

Users just using Preview to read PDF documents are mostly safe, assuming the third-party utilities they user are unaffected. However, Engst, and AppleInsider recommends that users avoid using Preview to edit PDF documents whenever possible as a work-around to OCR layer removal and other bugs introduced by Apple.

Apple has so far declined comment on the matter.
repressthis
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 31
    This doesn't surprise me at all. The new MacBook and Sierra are buggy. Apple is not getting the details right anymore of what made their hardware and software truly great.
    williamlondondws-2avon b7bdkennedyStrangeDayskevin keerepressthismagman1979ewtheckmanelijahg
  • Reply 2 of 31
    bloggerblogbloggerblog Posts: 1,523member
    With all Apple's recent meh announcements and slip ups, I can't help but wonder which project is Apple putting all their competent talent on? Augmented Reality? I hope it's not a Car.
    williamlondonwigginStrangeDayskevin keerepressthismagman1979
  • Reply 3 of 31
    It would be nice if you posted the Radar numbers to the filed bug reports. The solution sometimes is that Apple developed newer methods and have instructed programmers to switch to them. But, confirmation is important in reporting, and publishing and/or referencing the specific bugs will confirm your report.
    williamlondonargonautrepressthis
  • Reply 4 of 31
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 15,786member
    It would be nice if you posted the Radar numbers to the filed bug reports. The solution sometimes is that Apple developed newer methods and have instructed programmers to switch to them. But, confirmation is important in reporting, and publishing and/or referencing the specific bugs will confirm your report.
    The source article is here if you wanted to read up more on it.
    http://tidbits.com/article/16966

    Note: Also linked in the highlighted blue text within the AI article for those that overlooked it. 
    edited January 3 repressthisewtheckmanjSnively
  • Reply 5 of 31
    zroger73zroger73 Posts: 423member
    A few weeks ago, I used the text tool to "type" on a blank form on my Mac. The document opened correctly on my Mac, but when opened using Adobe Acrobat on my PC at work, words and sentences were missing.
  • Reply 6 of 31
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 1,456member
    Inexcusable. 
    StrangeDayskevin keerepressthis
  • Reply 7 of 31
    jingojingo Posts: 80member
    Those who have stuck with El Capitan are not safe from reprehensible problems either - there is some sort of a bug with Spotlight which many people are experiencing, caused by the last Safari update (seemingly unlikely but true), which means that if you type anything into the Spotlight search field, Spotlight crashes reporting a problem with com.apple.Safari.History. Truly Apple are not that bothered about MacOS any more, but what I can't work out is what the development guys are all doing with their time? More developers and more money spent than at any time in the past, and nothing at all to show for it except some highly suspect code and some very unimpressive hardware. I am not into short-selling, but I do wonder why Apple's share price is not collapsing right now. They seriously seem to have lost their mojo.
    williamlondonStrangeDays
  • Reply 8 of 31
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 1,155member
    One of the things not mentioned in this post but is mentioned in the TidBits article is that Apple is looking to unify PDF codebases for iOS / macOS

    "Apple wants to use a common foundation for both iOS and macOS. However, it was released way too early, and for the first time (at least in my experience) Apple deprecated several features without caring about compatibility. And to make things worse, lots of former features are now broken or not implemented at all, meaning that we had to add lots of workarounds or implement stuff on our own. And there’s still work left to be done.

    10.12.2 introduces new issues (it seems that Apple wants to fix at least the broken compatibility now) and of course fixed almost none of the other issues. It’s not only DEVONthink — a lot of other applications (such as EndNote, Skim, Bookends, and EagleFiler) are also affected."

    http://tidbits.com/article/16966

    Perhaps it would've been prudent for Apple to release the new codebase with macOS 10.13 after major bugs were ironed out.

    edited January 3 ewtheckman
  • Reply 9 of 31
    One of the things not mentioned in this post but is mentioned in the TidBits article is that Apple is looking to unify PDF codebases for iOS / macOS
    Third paragraph.

    "According to reports collated by Engst, and confirmed by AppleInsider Apple has re-written the PDFKit framework in macOS 10.12 Sierra, and implemented a common core with iOS and macOS. However, this has caused some serious issues with software that relies on Apple's PDFKit."
    repressthis
  • Reply 10 of 31
    jasenj1 said:
    Duplicate quotes from Jon Ashwell.
    The "duplicate quote" is a drop-quote on the main page, where most of our traffic comes from. It doesn't display well in the forums.
    edited January 3
  • Reply 11 of 31
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 1,155member
    One of the things not mentioned in this post but is mentioned in the TidBits article is that Apple is looking to unify PDF codebases for iOS / macOS
    Third paragraph.

    "According to reports collated by Engst, and confirmed by AppleInsider Apple has re-written the PDFKit framework in macOS 10.12 Sierra, and implemented a common core with iOS and macOS. However, this has caused some serious issues with software that relies on Apple's PDFKit."
    Thanks!
  • Reply 12 of 31
    I sincerely hope my prediction that the self aggrandizing Apple Book jumped the shark isn't accurate, but...
  • Reply 13 of 31
    wigginwiggin Posts: 2,222member
    One of the things not mentioned in this post but is mentioned in the TidBits article is that Apple is looking to unify PDF codebases for iOS / macOS

    "Apple wants to use a common foundation for both iOS and macOS. However, it was released way too early, and for the first time (at least in my experience) Apple deprecated several features without caring about compatibility. And to make things worse, lots of former features are now broken or not implemented at all, meaning that we had to add lots of workarounds or implement stuff on our own. And there’s still work left to be done.

    10.12.2 introduces new issues (it seems that Apple wants to fix at least the broken compatibility now) and of course fixed almost none of the other issues. It’s not only DEVONthink — a lot of other applications (such as EndNote, Skim, Bookends, and EagleFiler) are also affected."

    http://tidbits.com/article/16966

    Perhaps it would've been prudent for Apple to release the new codebase with macOS 10.13 after major bugs were ironed out.

    So basically you are saying Apple is now using the same method to update it's frameworks as it has been using for years with its user-facing applications (iMovie, FCP, Photos, etc). Namely, rather than fully develop it's long-range improvement strategies and have an orderly transition to the new technology, let's kill off and replace the existing stable, full-featured software with half-baked, feature-poor replacements and make users suffer while we slowly add back in the features the old software had all along.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 14 of 31
    This doesn't surprise me at all. The new MacBook and Sierra are buggy. Apple is not getting the details right anymore of what made their hardware and software truly great.
    Ah, the "Apple never used to have bugs" myth. Not so.
    andrewj5790repressthiswilliamlondon
  • Reply 15 of 31

    jingo said:
    Those who have stuck with El Capitan are not safe from reprehensible problems either - there is some sort of a bug with Spotlight which many people are experiencing, caused by the last Safari update (seemingly unlikely but true), which means that if you type anything into the Spotlight search field, Spotlight crashes reporting a problem with com.apple.Safari.History. Truly Apple are not that bothered about MacOS any more, but what I can't work out is what the development guys are all doing with their time? More developers and more money spent than at any time in the past, and nothing at all to show for it except some highly suspect code and some very unimpressive hardware. I am not into short-selling, but I do wonder why Apple's share price is not collapsing right now. They seriously seem to have lost their mojo.
    Unimpressive hardware? Funny. My latest Apple hardware are the best in breed -- the best smartphone, tablet, notebook, watch, and perhaps now wireless headphones. I can't take that claim seriously.

    Also, it's inaccurate to surmise that Apple doesn't care about macOS because bugs. Bugs have been ever-present in each system release. And Windows has it's share of bugs aplenty -- where are people claiming MS doesn't care about Windows?

    It's irrational.
    andrewj5790repressthiswilliamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 31
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 4,677member
    I've edited HUNDREDS of PDFs with Preview in Sierra and have encountered zero problems so far. I have no doubt that some bugs do exist, but the piling on to this report, by people who have no experienced any issues but are suddenly convinced that the application is "broken", is predictable and pathetic. SJ rolling in his grave, yada yada, right guys? This is getting so fucking tired. 

    1. Apple software has never been perfect
    2. Apple software is objective no worse now than it has been anytime in its history
    3. Apple products are being used by many, many more people than ever before
    4. People using Apple products are whinier and more entitled than ever before

    quadra 610argonautrepressthisStrangeDayswilliamlondonkevin keewatto_cobraAppleZuluadamcRayz2016
  • Reply 17 of 31
    quadra 610quadra 610 Posts: 6,665member
    slurpy said:
    I've edited HUNDREDS of PDFs with Preview in Sierra and have encountered zero problems so far. I have no doubt that some bugs do exist, but the piling on to this report, by people who have no experienced any issues but are suddenly convinced that the application is "broken", is predictable and pathetic. SJ rolling in his grave, yada yada, right guys? This is getting so fucking tired. 

    1. Apple software has never been perfect
    2. Apple software is objective no worse now than it has been anytime in its history
    3. Apple products are being used by many, many more people than ever before
    4. People using Apple products are whinier and more entitled than ever before


    Amen. Couldn't have said it better myself. 
    StrangeDayswilliamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 31
    And how long did the developers have with the betas? I had mine for 3 months. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 31
    coolfactorcoolfactor Posts: 1,003member
    I've observed this same attitude from Apple ignoring user needs and feedback. Back when the Pages app moved to version 5.0, and they dropped linked-text boxes, I very politely submitted numerous messages through their Feedback forms, and even went so far as to email Tim directly when our situation became critical. I don't agree with bothering a very busy CEO, but I was getting nothing from our feedback messages over many months. Essentially, we relied on this one feature for publishing a weekly newsletter (the business' only product), and could not purchase any new Macs because they came with the newer iWork suite. It really put us into a bind over a long period of time. Still not resolved after two years.

    They dropped this feature because they wanted synergy with the iCloud version of Pages, which does not support this feature, so they dropped it from the desktop version. Sounds very similar to this PDFKit situation where synergy across two platforms is put ahead of user needs.
    repressthisewtheckmanwilliamlondon
  • Reply 20 of 31
    danvmdanvm Posts: 344member

    jingo said:
    Those who have stuck with El Capitan are not safe from reprehensible problems either - there is some sort of a bug with Spotlight which many people are experiencing, caused by the last Safari update (seemingly unlikely but true), which means that if you type anything into the Spotlight search field, Spotlight crashes reporting a problem with com.apple.Safari.History. Truly Apple are not that bothered about MacOS any more, but what I can't work out is what the development guys are all doing with their time? More developers and more money spent than at any time in the past, and nothing at all to show for it except some highly suspect code and some very unimpressive hardware. I am not into short-selling, but I do wonder why Apple's share price is not collapsing right now. They seriously seem to have lost their mojo.
    Unimpressive hardware? Funny. My latest Apple hardware are the best in breed -- the best smartphone, tablet, notebook, watch, and perhaps now wireless headphones. I can't take that claim seriously.
    Best Smartphone - Maybe, but Samsung and Google are closing the gap quickly.
    Tablet - Maybe
    Notebook - Not anymore. 
    Watch - Don't know, since I haven't tried it.
    Wireless headphones - Are you sure about this?  You try other options before saying that Apple has the best headphones.  I suggest you start with Bower & Wilkins,
    http://www.bowers-wilkins.com/Headphones/Collection/products/overview.html
    repressthisewtheckmanwilliamlondon
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