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?

59 thoughts on “Breaking news: Adobe to release PDF to ISO

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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/

  4. 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/

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 26:
    The threat was made before Adobe announced that it would release PDF as a standard.
    Of course, that doesn’t change much.

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