Home > In the News > PDF to Become an Open, ISO Standard PDF to Become an Open, ISO Standard Submitted by flanque 2007-01-29 In the News 49 Comments Adobe Systems today announced that it has released the full PDF (Portable Document Format) 1.7 specification to AIIM, the Association for Information and Image Management. AIIM, in turn, will start working on making PDF an ISO standard. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 49 Comments 2007-01-29 10:16 am flanque This is great news for interoperability with the new PDF standard. 2007-01-29 10:43 am Kroc As long as Adobe don’t ‘choose’ who can and who can’t implement it by using their weight; ala Office 2007. Remember that Adobe have an £800 program that reads and writes an open standard, and they need to protect that massive revenue. 2007-01-29 1:26 pm kwanbis there are already many 3rd party programs that can do that. 2007-01-30 2:02 am Havin_it There are none that can do it as authoritatively as Adobe’s own Acrobat product, though. I can’t speak for commercial implementations, but e.g. OpenOffice commands barely a fraction of the features in recent PDF specs. Scribus is supposedly the open-source heavyweight in hi-spec PDF output, but I found it desperately unusable when trying to create a simple form with a bit of scripting. Having the spec put through the standards process, even though it is largely open already, will likely lead to better documentation to help developers make more polished implementations. Can’t be bad…! 2007-01-29 10:22 am pxa270 Then they should have no problems with Microsoft including a “Save as PDF” option in the new Office, right? 2007-01-29 10:43 am flanque The older standards have been around for years. I guess now it’ll just show it’s a matter of choice for them, nothing more. 2007-01-29 3:24 pm de_wizze And what about their own XPS wouldn’t they lean towards that one though? http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/xps/default.mspx 2007-01-29 3:31 pm ma_d That’s not what makes PDF great. The great part about PDF is that you can send it to most anyone and they have a reader available to read it. With XPS you’ll have a problem where there won’t be very good readers on Macintosh for a while and Linux as well. Also people will occasionally yell at you for sending them proprietary files when you don’t need to. But it’ll still be better than word. It’ll probably be a lot easier to reverse engineer, unless Microsoft runs around suing people for that. 2007-01-29 9:44 pm TomB7 hmmm– already a standard feature in OS X. Since, like, 10.0. Guess it’s too hard for MSFT. 2007-01-29 10:22 am Dima As far as I know, previous specs required that any implementation of PDF honor the documents’ DRM restrictions. Can such requirements be present in an ISO standard? 2007-01-29 9:46 pm TomB7 I prefer unlocked. 2007-01-30 12:34 am Wes Felter One benefit of PDF/A is that DRM is not allowed. ISO standardization of full PDF will allow the DRM to sneak back in. 2007-01-29 10:51 am jaylaa Does this mean we’ll be able to edit an already existing pdf in other apps? 2007-01-29 3:20 pm Morin > Does this mean we’ll be able to edit an already existing pdf in other apps? Probably not. PDFs are not built for editing. It’s mainly a technical problem, not a legal one. Editing PDFs is almost as cumbersome as rendering the document to an image file and editing it in a paint program. 2007-01-30 6:42 pm Moochman For straightforward PDFs with minimal formating, like those you often get from word processors, editing the contents in Acrobat is often quite easy. In fact, I have a feeling Adobe COULD make it a LOT easier than it already is, if not for the fact that they want to protect their products like InDesign from competition within their own product line. Edited 2007-01-30 18:42 2007-01-29 10:53 am pfortuny What does that mean? I gather the info on pdf was already open? (see Adobe’s web page and documentation). I guess we are getting too obsessed with the word. 2007-01-29 11:09 am flanque As far as I understand, the 1.7 version of the PDF standard wasn’t opened up. Previous versions already were. The opening of v1.7 is what has changed. Edited 2007-01-29 11:10 2007-01-29 8:34 pm rayiner And exactly what is to be gained by taking PDF, which is a perfectly good standard, and basing it on XML? What’s the point? It’s one thing to base a new standard on XML, to reduce the work of writing new parsers for the format, but that’s about it. There is no benefit to XML-izing what is already a well-supported and openly-readable spec. 2007-01-30 12:37 am Wes Felter The benefit of Mars (which seems to be orthogonal to PDF 1.7, so I’m not sure why you mentioned it in this thread) is that you can consume and produce it with existing XML tools such as XSLT. Most likely people who produce Mars will “compile” into regular PDF to reduce bloat. 2007-01-29 11:10 am h3rman Whatever you put into a PDF file, you can be sure it will look exactly how you want it to to the person you send it to. Whatever the fonts or characters you have and others don’t. So I quite like the format. This becoming an ISO standard means you can expect people to have an application or plugin installed on their computer to open these files, instead of looking as if you’re forcing (some of) them to install a PDF reader upon receiving your file. 2007-01-29 12:09 pm Savior Whatever you put into a PDF file, you can be sure it will look exactly how you want it to to the person you send it to. Whatever the fonts or characters you have and others don’t. How does it differ from .doc, or any other document format, for that matter? They also look the same — you can bundle all the fonts you want. Of course we all know that the sentence above is not true However, it isn’t true for PDF either. What you see in Evince is not the same as what you see in Adobe Reader, or in Foxit reader. In the end, it all depends on the reader application (and of course the platform’s anti-aliasing algorithm). When I wanted to send my CV to someone, I didn’t know in what format to send it to him: the .doc file looked different in MS Office and OOo, the pdf looked quite different in Windows from that in Linux, so in the end, I had to guess what system he had. I guessed Windows — and it turned out he had a Mac. 2007-01-29 12:36 pm dylansmrjones No. A .doc-file doesn’t look the same across different computers. Or more correctly. The formatting of a .doc-file on the screen differs from printer to printer(!). Changing from one printer to another will make text jump back and forth in the document. This does not happen with PDF. PDF files renders virtually identical across different platforms with no regard, and this is true for Evince, FoxIt Reader, Adobe PDF Reader etc. What really matters is the application that creates the PDF. Not the reader, for this is actually identical for the human eye. 2007-01-29 2:10 pm Thom Holwerda PDF files renders virtually identical across different platforms with no regard, and this is true for Evince, FoxIt Reader, Adobe PDF Reader etc. You have never truly worked with creating .pdf files, have you? I’m currently working on a large .pdf document for OSNews (you’ll see) and I can tell you that it looks ANYTHING but similar on different platforms. In Evince, the document looks completely different than in Adobe Reader for Linux, and then the document looks again different in Adobe Reader for Windows. It’s one big mess. 2007-01-29 4:48 pm Brmbolec I guess you’re just using different fonts (or different fonts are installed and substituted) … what about embedding fonts? 😉 2007-01-29 7:20 pm dylansmrjones ### BEGIN SARCASM/IRONY ### Of course I haven’t truly worked with creating .pdf files. We don’t use PDF in the printing industry :p – actually, nobody uses PDF. ### END SARCASM/IRONY ### As an editor of a tiny magazine with own printing machines I dare say I’ve created quite a few PDF’s. It’s my experience that a PDF looks the same in different applications (always with embedded fonts). However, PDF creators tend to create quite differently looking PDFs from the same input. But it doesn’t change the fact each PDF looks the same in Adobe PDF Reader, FoxIt PDF Reader, Gnome PDF (deprecated) and Evince. 2007-01-29 1:08 pm Ford Prefect Word documents get corrupted, YES, CORRUPTED, if you have another printer(!) installed, sometimes even if it’s just another setting for the same printer. (And btw, I never saw the option to include fonts into the document, whereas PDF cannot only include fonts, but also include only the needed characters of a font) If you would be in DTP, you would know what I mean. Most times, changes will be only minor ones and they don’t catch your eyes. But this is for letters, etc. If your document gets really big, it could be some sentence was first on page 10 and now got to page 11, because there wasn’t enough space on page 10 with printer XY. If you are doing _real_ formatting, like DTP, it will suck even more. Well, Word is not the right program for DTP anyway, but I just wanted to point out the glitches of the format. PDFs will work the same on every system. Yes, there are bad PDF readers. XPDF _has_ some serious problems. Still, if your reader is good (like Acroread) they _will_ look the same, as much as Postscript files will look the same on every sane postscript printer! So, getting back to DTP, I can do some DTP work in a DTP program and send it to the printing press as .pdf. IT WILL WORK! Every time! 2007-01-29 4:44 pm stestagg IT WILL WORK! Every time! …Except when it doesn’t. I usually send off in PDF and everything is ok, but the last time that I produced anything, the proofs came back with all the non-alphanumeric character scrambled. I’d created the PDF using Corel Draw 11 (hardly an amature product, it was a short booklet) on Windows but the Macs at the printers decided to use a different encoding to read the text. 2007-01-29 4:51 pm Brmbolec Corel’s fault I guess, it wasn’t Unicode but some crappy-ANSI-codepage Windblows is always using 2007-01-29 1:11 pm riha don´t forget that the pdf format can handle pdfs with or witout embedded fonts and if they are not embedded, that can create problems. So, sure PDF is an great format to use for prepress and printing plants, but only if created in an correct way. I know, we support prepress/printing plants with these kind of applications and most of them can create an PDF, but not an good pdf. 2007-01-29 2:03 pm CPUGuy Not entirely true. I sent a PDF to one of my contract workers and it came up all garbled and such on the other end. Checked the PDF file on my end, looked perfectly fine. Heck, I resent the verty same PDF file and then it worked. 2007-01-29 2:52 pm archiesteel I sent a PDF to one of my contract workers and it came up all garbled and such on the other end. Checked the PDF file on my end, looked perfectly fine. Heck, I resent the verty same PDF file and then it worked. If you resent the same PDF file and it worked, then it’s probably because the first one got corrupted along the way, don’t you think? There’s really no other possible explanation. In any case, such an example in itself does not invalidate the claim that PDFs will look the same (or rather, print the same…) on different platforms. 2007-01-29 4:43 pm renox > the claim that PDFs will look the same (or rather, print the same…) on different platforms. Look != print an important distinction, unfortunately my old xpdf at work sometimes render very poorly PDF, probably due to difficulty with fonts (the result is as-if the writing was done with someone shaking, bleh). Printing or using acroread is ok though. 2007-01-29 4:49 pm archiesteel Look != print an important distinction, unfortunately my old xpdf at work sometimes render very poorly PDF, probably due to difficulty with fonts (the result is as-if the writing was done with someone shaking, bleh). Yes, which is why I made the distinction. Screen rendition depends on the quality of the PDF reader. I prefer Kpdf than Acroread, personally – it renders beautifully, has some interesing Copy tools, and seems less resource-hungry than Acroread. Still, the original claim still stands: the format *is* portable across different platforms. 2007-01-29 5:17 pm CPUGuy My point was people send these things through all the time everywhere, but they can and do corrupt relatively easily (transferred through e-mail in this case). 2007-01-29 8:32 pm archiesteel My point was people send these things through all the time everywhere, but they can and do corrupt relatively easily (transferred through e-mail in this case). I understand what you’re saying, but I’m not sure I see your point…other document types can get corrupted in transport too! Are you saying that a PDF file is more easily corrupted than a Word document? 2007-01-29 8:01 pm flanque Mostly yes, but not entirely especially when mixing versions. An example would be that when transparencies was fully supported in the PDF standard, previous reader versions had difficulty rendering it. You could get a box line around the edge of the image or in extreme cases the transparency completely ignored. This was particularly irritating for printing houses because “on screen” from the view of the inexperienced creator it looked perfect, but to the printing house (which typically are a version or two behind the current release) it looked horrible. You had to create a path around the transparent edges to try and eliminate it. Also, colour was/is an issue when mixing between different monitors, though this is more a general display problem and not PDF specific. 2007-01-29 1:06 pm Bobmeister Also…PDF is a PRINTING format…a child of PostScript…and is acceptable to professional commercial printing houses. You can set many parameters for printing including resolution and other specifications. PDF is superior for archiving as well. This is good news and I welcome it. I have always liked the pdf standard (especially it’s relationship to PostScript, which I also use quite a bit) and this makes it even more attractive. In UNIX-based systems, PostScript is native and also makes converting anything from any application to pdf handy. 2007-01-29 2:25 pm griffinme I am not a fan of PDF and am very unexcited by this. PDF can be generated by Office2K7(there is a plugin from MS) and OOo yet neither can read a PDF. That is a P.I.T.A. Also Foxit and Acrobat do _NOT_ see all PDF’s the same. I had to stop using Foxit because the print came out differently then with Acrobat. That makes no sense since PDF is a print format. 2007-01-29 3:25 pm Morin > I am not a fan of PDF and am very unexcited by this. PDF can be > generated by Office2K7(there is a plugin from MS) and OOo yet neither > can read a PDF. That is a P.I.T.A. Please read my other comment about importing PDFs. PDF is an already-rendered format. If you want to edit a document, you should edit the original one, not the rendered one. Loading a PDF would require so much (manual) post-processing work that you wouldn’t like it. 2007-01-29 2:31 pm REM2000 Aswell as the Save As i would like to see Vista being able to natively view PDF files aswell. I know you can download the free Adobe Reader software, but having in the OS rendering perhaps on the graphics card might speed up large PDF work. I know that having PDF native access in Mac OSX is really useful. I don’t think it’s a clear cut line with the PDF intergration in Windows and Office, im sure there were some other reasons why Microsoft wasn’t allowed, i can’t remember if Adobe was worried that Microsoft might recreate PDF’s to only work well on Windows machines a la Microsoft Java Machine. 2007-01-29 3:07 pm Headrush Several people are giving arguments about specific PDF viewing apps that don’t look the same as Acrobat Reader. How is this an indictment against the PDF format and not that application? More often than not, pdf is more consistent than any other format out there. (across platforms) Being postscript based its obvious why. For those that say their documents looks so incredibly different, makes me wonder what YOU are doing? (font embedding excluded) 2007-01-29 4:18 pm bolomkxxviii As a daily user of Adobe Acrobat Professional 7, I can tell you that most people do not know how to use all of the setting in the Acrobat writer. I send files to print vendors all over the country (USA) and have had no trouble. Embedding fonts is just one of many issues. As for editing PDFs, there is limited editing capabilities in Professional 7. The creator of the PDF sets permissions for viewing, printing, extracting, editing, etc. 2007-01-29 5:38 pm gelosilente pdf 1.7 is a good file container, is good to see already opened. 2007-01-29 5:48 pm Zarafa Why PDF 1.7 and not Mars ( http://labs.adobe.com/wiki/index.php/Mars )? I realize Mars is a work-in-progress, but I’d think that a future-looking spec would have more value. Particularly when the competing formats (e.g. XPS) are XML already. 2007-01-30 12:42 am Wes Felter PDF is actually deployed; Mars isn’t. Tens of millions of people can read PDFs who can’t read Mars docs. Long-term, I would expect Adobe to send both PDF and Mars through ISO, or just combine both formats into one spec. 2007-01-29 6:07 pm JohnMG This so-called “pee-dee-eff” sounds alright I guess, but my DVI files seem to work just fine, thank you very much. Edited 2007-01-29 18:17 2007-01-29 9:29 pm blitze I like PDF’s but what I find a pain to deal with is Acrobat Pro. I’d personally like Adobe to simplify the feature set for Acrobat and ditch ink management and the likes from Acrobat as Colour spaces and the like should have been embedded when the original PDF was created. Then for colour management I can just use Fiery Tools on my Print Servers not the crap that Acrobat comes embedded with. I think also the problem with PDF is that it has grown well beyond what it was originally designed for. Embedding multimedia and the likes is fun and all but not when people send stuff like that down the line to us to print. There also is a lot of confusion as to how to create decent PDF’s from applications. Why have export to PDF if you are going to suffer transparency issues and reccommend using Print to PDF instead? Adobe needs to clean up PDF’s and how they are generated /managed to get the spec back to being a reliable format. Still, I’d take a PDF anyday over bloody Docs. Edited 2007-01-29 21:34 2007-01-29 10:57 pm Sphinx I have little doubt there is probably the soon to be announced adoption of it as MSPDF, few proprietary extensions, native viewer, application for a patent too of course. 2007-01-30 12:17 am tyrione … when third party apps don’t have the same PDF library revision, embedded 12 Postscript Fonts standard with Adobe Acrobat and when the Font Engine is inferior to the one’s utilized on OS X and Windows.