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What is DjVu?

Last Updated: Friday, 09-Jan-2015 12:32:40 PST

DjVu is an under appreciated file format that is superior to PDFs for some circumstances. The biggest advantage is that the files are almost always smaller than PDFs especially for graphics.


DjVu is a file format that can contain many pages, like a PDF, but is a entirely bitmap based format like a PNG, JPG, or TIFF. It is an open and free file format like PDF and can be created and viewed entirely with open source software, but it is not as commonly used as PDF. It was originally designed as a format for scanning books into the computer and viewing them online.


The real advantage of DjVu over a PDF is that even text files and especially graphics (even vector graphics) can be compressed more than is possible in a PDF, so the file size is smaller and it downloads faster (even while preserving the highest visual quality and resolution).


There are numerous disadvantages that apply to DjVu when used for files with text in them: DjVu files are not accessible; you cannot search them; they can only be converted to bitmap formats like PNG, JPG, and TIFF; and the document structure is not maintained. The only major reason for me offering DjVu versions of text only documents is for people who are ideologically opposed to the PDF format, even though PDF is a free, open, and internationally standardized format.

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