Breaking news: Adobe to release PDF to ISO

This is news that’s just breaking.

I talked with Adobe officials on Friday and they are opening up the PDF specification. It will release the full PDF 1.7 specification to AIIM, the Enterprise Content Management Association, for the purpose of publication by the International Organization for Standardization, ISO.

If you haven’t looked at PDF for a while, here’s a short list of what’s new in 1.7 vs. 1.6:

  1. New Print characteristics; paper selection, page range, copies, and scaling.
  2. New portable collections, IE, PDF packages.
  3. New Requirement handlers.
  4. Added improvements to 3D.
  5. Added improvements to annotations.
  6. Added improvements to tagging.
  7. Added improvements to digital signatures.

So, why would Adobe do this? Tons of governments are forcing standards-based purchase requirements and Adobe wanted to make sure that its customers could continue choosing PDF and Acrobat as a standards-based way to send information around the network, they told me in a press call on Friday. Here’s Adobe’s press release on this topic. Hey, who said press releases weren’t useful? ;-)

I’ll try to find other blogs to link to, but for now I’ll just link to an Adobe search on Google News. The press embargo ends at Midnight Eastern Time, so it’ll be interesting to see who gets stories about about this.

Does this change your view of PDF?

Comments

  1. I’ve been able to create/edit PDF files for ages now under Linux without the software from Adobe. This means nothing to anyone in the free/libre software world.

  2. I’ve been able to create/edit PDF files for ages now under Linux without the software from Adobe. This means nothing to anyone in the free/libre software world.

  3. No.
    This won’t magically add the PDF plugin back to the default Office 2007 install.

    Also, PDF = Adobe Reader = Resource hog
    No amount of opening up the file format will get rid of that issue.

  4. No.
    This won’t magically add the PDF plugin back to the default Office 2007 install.

    Also, PDF = Adobe Reader = Resource hog
    No amount of opening up the file format will get rid of that issue.

  5. After they screwed Microsoft Office 2007 over PDF export capability? Hell no.

    On the other hand it is nice to see them sign away their Acrobat’s virtual monopoly. Yay to that!

  6. After they screwed Microsoft Office 2007 over PDF export capability? Hell no.

    On the other hand it is nice to see them sign away their Acrobat’s virtual monopoly. Yay to that!

  7. To answer #5, this is absolutely not a response to XPS. This was discussed for years internally. In fact, on my blog I specifically thank some external people we talked to this about publicly back as far as May 2005. It is simply the logical evolution of PDF.

  8. To answer #5, this is absolutely not a response to XPS. This was discussed for years internally. In fact, on my blog I specifically thank some external people we talked to this about publicly back as far as May 2005. It is simply the logical evolution of PDF.

  9. Breaking news? Are you serious Scoble?

    This is an intention. It will take years to pass, if it passes at all.

    Note the irony, billions of PDF documents out there, widely supported on many platforms, constrasting with Microsoft’s closed Office XML, which is in fact barely more than binary bits surrounded by angle brackets, filled to death with legacy Windows ties, takes it all : ECMA standard approval in one year (which proves no serious review actually occured), and they have submitted it to make it ISO just as fast. And there is not a single Office XML document out there…

  10. Breaking news? Are you serious Scoble?

    This is an intention. It will take years to pass, if it passes at all.

    Note the irony, billions of PDF documents out there, widely supported on many platforms, constrasting with Microsoft’s closed Office XML, which is in fact barely more than binary bits surrounded by angle brackets, filled to death with legacy Windows ties, takes it all : ECMA standard approval in one year (which proves no serious review actually occured), and they have submitted it to make it ISO just as fast. And there is not a single Office XML document out there…

  11. Stephane, I assume that you’ve never heard the phrase “Office 2007 Beta Tester” before. Now you have.

  12. Stephane, I assume that you’ve never heard the phrase “Office 2007 Beta Tester” before. Now you have.

  13. Zian, who are you?

    I am an independent vendor who sells a product that generates Excel 2007 files from scratch. Before that, I have spent 6 years reverse engineering all sorts of binary file formats (mostly Microsoft’s since that’s what they do).

    Does this say something to you?

  14. Zian, who are you?

    I am an independent vendor who sells a product that generates Excel 2007 files from scratch. Before that, I have spent 6 years reverse engineering all sorts of binary file formats (mostly Microsoft’s since that’s what they do).

    Does this say something to you?

  15. A standard is only Open if anyone can implement that standard. Given that the EU+Adobe have already threatened and effectively blocked PDF in Office 2007, means that PDF is only a standard in name and not fact.

    The EU+Adobe action against office has clearly been damaging, and this action is obviously an attempt to claw back some credibility with important customers.

    If they really want credibility then EU+Adobe have to simply remove the threat to sue.

  16. A standard is only Open if anyone can implement that standard. Given that the EU+Adobe have already threatened and effectively blocked PDF in Office 2007, means that PDF is only a standard in name and not fact.

    The EU+Adobe action against office has clearly been damaging, and this action is obviously an attempt to claw back some credibility with important customers.

    If they really want credibility then EU+Adobe have to simply remove the threat to sue.

  17. PDF documents really just suck. In my field, they’re everywhere and I hate them. But this isn’t Adobe’s fault. It’s people who don’t know how to prepare their reports properly in PDF that are the problem.

    Although I do sometimes wonder why every system I’ve ever had freezes on occasion when working with PDF files. I’ve seen this freezing problem mentioned by others, such as in usability tests by Jakob Nielsen. Anyone know what could cause that?

  18. PDF documents really just suck. In my field, they’re everywhere and I hate them. But this isn’t Adobe’s fault. It’s people who don’t know how to prepare their reports properly in PDF that are the problem.

    Although I do sometimes wonder why every system I’ve ever had freezes on occasion when working with PDF files. I’ve seen this freezing problem mentioned by others, such as in usability tests by Jakob Nielsen. Anyone know what could cause that?

  19. “Anyone know what could cause that?”

    If you are talking about the Windows PDF reader, you can do a test and open a large PDF document while having the Task manager opened with column “Page faults”. See how fast it grows.

    This is the symptom of high memory fragmentation.

    The fragmentation eventually causes a freeze or semi-freeze due to the sheer work of collecting the pieces, when you quit PDF reader or leave it on idle for too much time (the work done on idle time is probably differently handled on Windows than elsewhere).

  20. “Anyone know what could cause that?”

    If you are talking about the Windows PDF reader, you can do a test and open a large PDF document while having the Task manager opened with column “Page faults”. See how fast it grows.

    This is the symptom of high memory fragmentation.

    The fragmentation eventually causes a freeze or semi-freeze due to the sheer work of collecting the pieces, when you quit PDF reader or leave it on idle for too much time (the work done on idle time is probably differently handled on Windows than elsewhere).

  21. Here are my suggestions then :
    - don’t use Adobe’s reader. The fragmentation is subject to any vendor discretion, meaning that any other vendor out there may provide an entirely different experience.
    - corollary to above, view PDF documents on a non-Windows machine.
    - split your large PDF documents in pieces (using some third-party out there. See PlanetPDF and sites like that).

  22. Here are my suggestions then :
    - don’t use Adobe’s reader. The fragmentation is subject to any vendor discretion, meaning that any other vendor out there may provide an entirely different experience.
    - corollary to above, view PDF documents on a non-Windows machine.
    - split your large PDF documents in pieces (using some third-party out there. See PlanetPDF and sites like that).

  23. @Stephane
    My point was that there are Office XML files out there that have been written by Office 2007 beta testers.
    I didn’t understand why you said there are no Office XML files out there and I still don’t understand.

    Your response doesn’t clarify the point of confusion so I’m afraid that it doesn’t do much for the discussion.

    Actually, your response just confuses me even more. You claim that you have a program to generate Excel 2007 files (I’ll assume that you generate them as XML). As a direct byproduct of your development, haven’t you created dozens or even hundreds of Office XML files?

    I think the discussion is just going around in circles.

  24. @Stephane
    My point was that there are Office XML files out there that have been written by Office 2007 beta testers.
    I didn’t understand why you said there are no Office XML files out there and I still don’t understand.

    Your response doesn’t clarify the point of confusion so I’m afraid that it doesn’t do much for the discussion.

    Actually, your response just confuses me even more. You claim that you have a program to generate Excel 2007 files (I’ll assume that you generate them as XML). As a direct byproduct of your development, haven’t you created dozens or even hundreds of Office XML files?

    I think the discussion is just going around in circles.

  25. PDF’s ARE great– in OS X’s Preview.

    Acrobat Reader for Windows XP DOES suck, but I am in no position to fix the blame on that. Reader launches slowly on the Mac, like it does in Windows, but SEEMS to be more stable on the Mac, once launched.

    I look at lots of PDF’s (both platforms). And create a fair number on the Mac (Print to PDF).

  26. PDF’s ARE great– in OS X’s Preview.

    Acrobat Reader for Windows XP DOES suck, but I am in no position to fix the blame on that. Reader launches slowly on the Mac, like it does in Windows, but SEEMS to be more stable on the Mac, once launched.

    I look at lots of PDF’s (both platforms). And create a fair number on the Mac (Print to PDF).

  27. How can a company release it as a standard, yet sue Microsoft for trying to include it as standard export in Office 2007.

    Open Office uses it, about 400 other products create PDF’s yet they decided to be dicks about it against Microsoft.

    If anything it would have made everyones life easier rather than having to track down the extra install for it.

  28. How can a company release it as a standard, yet sue Microsoft for trying to include it as standard export in Office 2007.

    Open Office uses it, about 400 other products create PDF’s yet they decided to be dicks about it against Microsoft.

    If anything it would have made everyones life easier rather than having to track down the extra install for it.

  29. 26:
    The threat was made before Adobe announced that it would release PDF as a standard.
    Of course, that doesn’t change much.

  30. 26:
    The threat was made before Adobe announced that it would release PDF as a standard.
    Of course, that doesn’t change much.

  31. As long as Adobe reserves the right to sue anyone that uses PDF, then it’s status as an ISO standard means nothing.

    An older version of PDF was already ISO (1.1 or 1.4 or whatever), and that didn’t stop Adobe from suing MS to make sure that OFfice 2k7 couldn’t implement it.

    PDF may be an ISO standard, but it’s not a free to use standard as long as Adobe can sue to stop, at their whim, parties from using it.

  32. As long as Adobe reserves the right to sue anyone that uses PDF, then it’s status as an ISO standard means nothing.

    An older version of PDF was already ISO (1.1 or 1.4 or whatever), and that didn’t stop Adobe from suing MS to make sure that OFfice 2k7 couldn’t implement it.

    PDF may be an ISO standard, but it’s not a free to use standard as long as Adobe can sue to stop, at their whim, parties from using it.

  33. Why do people keep saying that Acrobat Reader sucks? It works great, IMO. If you’re talking about RAM size or whatnot, who cares? Both the standalone and browser plugins (both ActiveX and Netscape style) work well.

    I refer to the Windows version. Maybe the Mac version sucks, I don’t know since I use OSX’s bundled Preview app to view PDF files. I do know that in the past, when Adobe Reader was called Adobe Acrobat, the Mac version did suck badly, much worse than the Windows version.

  34. Why do people keep saying that Acrobat Reader sucks? It works great, IMO. If you’re talking about RAM size or whatnot, who cares? Both the standalone and browser plugins (both ActiveX and Netscape style) work well.

    I refer to the Windows version. Maybe the Mac version sucks, I don’t know since I use OSX’s bundled Preview app to view PDF files. I do know that in the past, when Adobe Reader was called Adobe Acrobat, the Mac version did suck badly, much worse than the Windows version.

  35. To all those claiming that Adobe PDF reader sucks resources / kills kittens / is the primary reason for global warming.

    Try foxit reader, it’s free and it works plus wouldn’t harm a hair on your pet’s head. Windows victims/victors need only apply:

    http://www.foxitsoftware.com/

  36. To all those claiming that Adobe PDF reader sucks resources / kills kittens / is the primary reason for global warming.

    Try foxit reader, it’s free and it works plus wouldn’t harm a hair on your pet’s head. Windows victims/victors need only apply:

    http://www.foxitsoftware.com/

  37. My opinion? It’s about time.

    I was at NIST for a shootout over PDF and SGML over a decade ago with Steve Zilles. He was claiming the advantages of PDF as a PAS were that it couldn’t be tampered with and that the technical publishing world (we didn’t really worry about the web in those days) needed one really solid document format. Off line, NIST reps confessed that they didn’t like SGML and they liked ISO less. As I was showing how easy it actually was to cause a PDF to fail, I said that wherever a standard had longevity, it was better to deal with ISO because as organizations go, they were more solid and resistant to chicanery.

    Some years later now, it is good to see international standards actually being cut loose from the Adobes, Suns, Microsofts, and even the W3C and being returned to the real deal. On the other hand, I really fear that given the requirements VCs and private equity investors levy on their loans, we are actually on the verge of seeing the private open consortia such as the W3C collapse anyway. Royalty free unencumbered standards violate Buffet’s essential complexity moat theory and the transfers of wealth entailed.

    So at least ISO is still standing. My sense of things for the openness of the Internet is that this is an era receding away from us and it may be awhile before that tide returns.

    It is time to dump the HTML browser at the centerpiece wrapper format anyway and start using the operating system services without having to load a lot of unused HTML objects into RAM anyway. We need performance in the new hotter frameworks such as real-time 3D and HTML is essentially a market hog. Given that XAML allows for this, it may be time to think more discretely.

  38. My opinion? It’s about time.

    I was at NIST for a shootout over PDF and SGML over a decade ago with Steve Zilles. He was claiming the advantages of PDF as a PAS were that it couldn’t be tampered with and that the technical publishing world (we didn’t really worry about the web in those days) needed one really solid document format. Off line, NIST reps confessed that they didn’t like SGML and they liked ISO less. As I was showing how easy it actually was to cause a PDF to fail, I said that wherever a standard had longevity, it was better to deal with ISO because as organizations go, they were more solid and resistant to chicanery.

    Some years later now, it is good to see international standards actually being cut loose from the Adobes, Suns, Microsofts, and even the W3C and being returned to the real deal. On the other hand, I really fear that given the requirements VCs and private equity investors levy on their loans, we are actually on the verge of seeing the private open consortia such as the W3C collapse anyway. Royalty free unencumbered standards violate Buffet’s essential complexity moat theory and the transfers of wealth entailed.

    So at least ISO is still standing. My sense of things for the openness of the Internet is that this is an era receding away from us and it may be awhile before that tide returns.

    It is time to dump the HTML browser at the centerpiece wrapper format anyway and start using the operating system services without having to load a lot of unused HTML objects into RAM anyway. We need performance in the new hotter frameworks such as real-time 3D and HTML is essentially a market hog. Given that XAML allows for this, it may be time to think more discretely.