PDF to be ISO standard too

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Today's news from Adobe:

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Jan. 29, 2007 — Adobe Systems Incorporated (Nasdaq:ADBE) today announced that it intends to release the full Portable Document Format (PDF) 1.7 specification to AIIM, the Enterprise Content Management Association, for the purpose of publication by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Looks like everybody nowadays wants to be open and ISO standardized. ODF is already ISO standard, OOXML on the way and now PDF joins the club.

Btw, Wikipedia article on PDF is definitely wrong (or written by Adobe) - how on earth this fully proprietary document format is called "an open file format created and controlled by Adobe Systems"?

Provided the fact that Adobe forced Microsoft to remove "Save as PDF" feature from Office 2007 - because they wanted to charge a fee for it, PDF format clearly cannot be called "open format" - it's proprietary format controlled by Adobe and they wanted a fee from at least one vendor trying to implement it. I don't think that is open format.

I'm going to try to change Wikipedia article on PDF to see how it works. I'll report my progress.

And at the end one more curious comparison showing how heavily biased Wikipedia is: PDF vs RTF. Both proprietary document formats, published and widely implemented by both commercial and open tools. But guess what:

Portable Document Format (PDF) is an open file format created and controlled by Adobe Systems, for representing two-dimensional documents in a device independent and resolution independent fixed-layout document format.


The Rich Text Format (often abbreviated to RTF) is a proprietary document file format developed by Microsoft since 1987 for cross-platform document interchange. Most word processors are able to read and write RTF documents.

With a piece of PDF conversion software, whether it's an individual license or a larger PDF server package, you may find that various PDF conversion options are more useful than you realized and that a PDF converter can help speed things up around the office.

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To Martin: What you say is very far from truth.

In fact, it is PDF that changes its format in incompatible ways. For example, the tools made to read PDF 1.3 will most probably fail to read PDF that was made in 1.4 format.

On the contrary, RTF format is always compatible to previous versions. It is very easy for 3rd party tools to ensure this compatibility. They just need to skip and ignore the RTF tokens they do not know. It is very easy to implement.

Also, the changes of RTF format does not occur too often. RTF has been revised 9 times since its appearance in 1987, and PDF was revised 7 times since 1993. So you can easily calculate that Adobe revised PDF more often than RTF was revised by Microsoft.

Also please note that RTF and PDF format are essentially different. RTF describes the document flow, wheras PDF contains the absolutely positioned document layout. Word processors that want to support RTF need to implement rendering, and PDF is already rendered, ready for printout.

I know for sure that RTF created with Word 2007 can easily be loaded in Word'97. I also beleive it is true for earlier versions of MS Word.

But I seriously doubt that you will be able to read PDF 1.7 in Acrobat Reader 3.

Please correct me if I am wrong.

> I'm going to try to change Wikipedia article on PDF to see how it works.

Oh Dear God, NO! "Turn away from the light, Oleg, it's not what you 'BZZZZt'... Oh, uhh.. nevermind." ;)

> I'll report my progress. <

Reporting that you are still alive is all that I am hopeful for -- Progress? Well, I guess if you consider walking backwards with your head twisted as far around as you can get to make it seems like your moving forwards, "Progress", then yeah, it will be interesting to hear out that works out for ya ;)


I think the difference is the "perceived openness". PDF is a universal format that is indeed widely used, and it just works. Also, RTF has the habit of being changed by Microsoft every now and then in incompatible ways. At least in my experience, PDF is much more reliable when working with non-Adobe tools than RTF.

You're still right about the "open file format" thing, though.

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