This will be one of my last posts regarding Titanium because I’m rewriting my app using native SDKs; this will be the subject of a future post.

I needed to fix the handling of PDFs inside of webviews in Titanium on Android. This seems to be a well-known problem on Android; apparently, not only does the browser not handle PDFs, but we can’t simply launch an intent with a PDF URL. It’s bizarre, but this just doesn’t work. The PDF must be downloaded first before we can launch the intent. I’m not sure why this is, but I did try launching the intent with the URL first and this didn’t work; also, googling this issue reveals several StackOverflow questions where these results are corroborated.

So, we have to download the file first. There’s plenty of example code available for writing an Android activity to do this in Java, but, of course, this is hard to fit into Titanium. So, the approach I took was to add a new event that is fired by WebViews when links that end in PDF are hit. This event also includes any cookies that were set by the URL. This is so we can preserve any authentication that occurred in the webview when we download the PDF.

This approach does require a modification to be made to the Titanium SDK. It also requires a bit of code to download the PDF, move it to a temporary directory (since a PDF reader app can’t access your app’s data directory), and launch the intent.

The code I wrote is available in this gist.

To use it:

  1. Apply the diff at the bottom to a copy of the Titanium SDK source.

  2. Compile the Titanium SDK and install it.

  3. Copy the pdf.js code into your project.

  4. Add the event listener to your webviews for the event pdf and use the pdf.js code to handle it, as seen in the example.

I’d make a PR and try to get this merged into the Titanium codebase, but since it requires a lot of work on the app side to be useful, I’m not sure they’d be interested. Plus, I’m moving off of Titanium anyway. I hope this is useful to some of you!

Published on 05 November 2013

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