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About the contributor
PDF Association

Mission Statement: To promote Open Standards-based electronic document implementations using PDF technology through education, expertise and shared experience for stakeholders worldwide.
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The Power of the Page

It’s a question that vexes vendors of web-based solutions everywhere: why do people still insist on PDF files? And why does PDF’s mindshare keep going up? “PDF is such antediluvian technology!” they say. “It’s pre-web, are you kidding me? It’s so old-f …

PDF Association technical resources: an overview

PDF is PDF because files produced with one vendor’s software can be read using a different vendor’s software with no loss of fidelity. Interoperability is key to our industry. The PDF Association is a international membership organization dedicated to …

2022: The last year of paper for records-keeping

NARA (The National Archives and Records Administration) is the final depository for the long-term records generated by all other agencies of the U.S. Federal Government. The agency has a key role in preserving the cultural history of the republic as we …

PDF 2.0 examples now available

The PDF Association is proud to present the first PDF 2.0 example files made available to the public. Created and donated to the PDF Association by Datalogics, this initial set of PDF 2.0 examples were crafted by hand and intentionally made simple in construction to serve as teaching tools for learning PDF file structure and syntax.

PDF 2.0 interops help vendors

The PDF 2.0 interop workshops included many vendors with products for creating, editing and processing PDF files. They came together in Boston, Massachusetts for a couple of days to test their own software against 3rd party files.

What’s unique about PDF?


Iconic superman with The Portable Document Format possesses a variety of attributes that are, themselves, more subtle that what one normally thinks of as “features”. Taken together, however, they describe a format of such flexibility and power that it will define the essential “electronic document” concept forever.

It’s a document

Wikipedia, among others, defines “document” in terms of content (text and graphics, together in a layout) as it exists at a given moment in time. The need for a sharable electronic document drove the fundamental design of PDF. The format allows pages – that is, a fixed layout of text and graphics – to be shared with total fidelity to the author’s intent. However they were made, PDF documents look the same way to everyone. This feature was critical to establishing PDF as a candidate for the standard electronic document format, but it was not enough.

One format can hold it all

Closely related to PDF’s ability to reliably share fixed-layout content is the fact that a PDF document may include pages from many (any) different source. Users can (and often do) mix PDF pages produced from MS Word with PDF pages from scanned documents, screen-captures, CAD images and more. No electronic document format could replace PDF unless it was also able to allow users to mix pages together to form the documents (see above) they need.

Totally unrestricted

PDF technology is not platform-specific; it works just as well on Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS. The only limitation is the application. Likewise, there are no restrictions or licensing requirements for use of PDF technology whatsoever. The specification for PDF has been published for free since 1993 and an ISO standard since 2008.

A framework for advanced functionality

PDF’s capabilities extend far beyond the accurate representation of page-images. A broad array of features, from forms to JavaScript support to semantic structures, 3D graphics and attached files, make PDF an attractive platform for a wide variety of supply-chain, manufacturing, publishing, administrative, legal and other functions.

People are used to PDF; they already use it everyday. Building business solutions on the platform provided by PDF is a good place to look for cost savings and new opportunities to improve business processes.

A large ecosystem

Just as with the common web technologies such as HTML/CSS and JavaScript, PDF solutions of every conceivable type are available from thousands of developers worldwide.

PDF will live forever

The need to “document” agreements, obligations, decisions, concepts, instructions and publications (to name but a few types of documents) is not likely to vanish. HTML can’t satisfy the need for reliable, portable, precise, offline content. Indeed, PDF remains predominant as the electronic file format of choice online, and people search for PDF files more and more.

Any replacement for PDF will have to do everything PDF can do already.

The PDF Technical Conference – for developers who work with documents

Developers and technical product managers interested in learning about how PDF features and functionality might enhance existing or enable new processes should join the PDF industry for educational sessions, panels and keynotes at the PDF Technical Conference 2015, October 19-20 in San Jose, California!


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Categories: PDF