Remember back in the 90s, when desktops were all the rage, and laptops and smartphones were, well, mostly non-existent. The powerful technology from Microsoft at that time included Windows 3.1, Windows NT and Windows 98. Well, fast-forward 30 odd years into the future, and powerful devices that can display things using Microsoft technology are everywhere..

And how I hear you ask? Microsoft has introduced an extension to the Windows Runtime platform called Windows Universal Platform, or UWP for short, that works with Windows 10. It provides a common core API and a platform homogeneous application architecture. By using this technology, software developers can now create universal apps for use on Xbox One, Hololens and of course, Windows 10, and Windows Mobile.

That’s awesome, yeah? UWP apps are available through the Windows App Store, if you use Windows 10. They are optimized for traditional keyboard/mouse setups and touch screens. In addition, they have a more up-to-date UI than classic Windows desktop apps.

Microsoft’s intention is for UWP to be the future building block of Windows apps and programs. It is an exciting time in the industry.


When building a PDF viewer for UWP devices there are a few things that need to be considered. Essentially, Windows has divided devices into families where if you create an App for one device it can be downloaded onto a range of devices within that family. The UWP Guidebook separates them into Desktop, mobile, Xbox, and Hololens.

Know your end user

As Microsoft have broken their devices into families, hence, it is important to understand what end users want to see on each device. They note that:

‘the amount of information displayed on a TV should be comparable to what you’d see on a mobile phone, rather than on a desktop.’

This can significantly affect the amount of information that is held within a PDF document on any device. We can anticipate end user habits and next steps while using PDF documents by understanding them.


It is important to take note of the device that your app is being designed for and the potential PDF capabilities that need to exist it in. If you plan to use a desktop device for example, the UWP Guidebook states that an app on this type of device:

‘can have a windowed view, the size of which is determined by the user. Depending on window size, there can be between one and three frames. On larger monitors, the app can have more than three frames.’

Developers that are creating PDF documents used in apps will have more now to consider and have increased design freedom for different platforms.


UWP targets the concept of multi-device handling and scalability. Getting PDF technology right from the start is really important. When functions such as signatures and annotations are needed, if the technology is not flexible and scalable to many input methods & screen resolutions then proficiency and trust are questioned by the user.

Input method

Due to the fact that end users may use a range of devices to view an app there are varying input methods to consider. The Microsoft UWP Guidebook advises that:

‘common input handling allows an app to receive input from a range of devices, such as touch, pen, mouse, keyboards, and game controllers.’

A developer’s job is about to get much more interesting (and much harder!) with all these added inputs within PDFs.


Microsoft confirms that when building a UWP app:

‘you can choose from a wide range of common coding languages to develop in UWP, including C++, C#, Microsoft Visual Basic, or JavaScript. You even write components in different languages and combine them.’

For developers who work with an SDK, this is great as they don’t need to jump from one language to another in order to create PDF technology in their app. If they favor one language over another they can likely use this to develop the whole app..


The old adage ‘you don’t get something for nothing’ fits nicely here in my wrap up. That is, PDF and UWP software will have to be improved, tested and tested a little more to keep up with the varying screen-resolutions, device types, and other UWP issues. If you want to know how we look to beat these challenges at Foxit, you can visit our MobilePDF SDK product page.

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About the Author: Rowan Hanna

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