A friend tells me that he can zoom and pan in PDFs generated by Asymptote, very much like the HTML output when displayed in a browser. He manages to do that in a well-known proprietary (free for use) PDF reader, also known for its many security issues. I would prefer not to install that software neither on Linux or Windows.

What other PDF readers (on Linux or Windows) allow for panning and zooming? What is that feature called?

  • 2
    I think you are referring to 3D objects in PDF files (sometimes called 3DPDF). There are two supported formats for that, PRC and U3D. (Asymptote uses PRC IIRC) As far as I can tell interactively viewing these files is currently only supported by Acrobat. Nov 5, 2021 at 22:06
  • It would be a shame if only acrobat reader did that. But if that is the case, please write a full answer, so i can accept it. Nov 5, 2021 at 23:06

1 Answer 1


Asymptote can create PDF files embedding 3D data in the PRC format. Sadly very few readers can actually read this data, most others only use a (2D) replacement image.

As far as I am aware, the only PDF reader for desktop systems which supports 3D PDF files is Adobe's Acrobat family of programs.

On Android and iOS there are special apps which often open only the 3D content (so you need a separate app to open other PDF files and sometimes even to see the non 3D content of the PDF file), but on my Android all apps I tested failed to open almost all 3D PDF files for unknown reasons. Even Adobe Acrobat for Android does not support 3D content (Which isn't very surprising since that app supports almost none of the advanced PDF functions) (It's probably the same on iOS, but I don't have a device to test that).

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