Back in the ancient days of 2008, in Adobe’s Supplement to the ISO 32000 specification (Base Version: 1.7 Extension Level: 3), or in Acrobat 9.0 if you prefer, Adobe introduced not one but two Annotation types for embedding 3D content, one of which also promised to allow audio and video content better than prior multimedia annotations. That multi-purpose annotation was the RichMedia annotation. And since then, it has not yet been well adopted.
The dedicated 3D annotation found a niche in the engineering document world, where it filled a need, though it did not meet the exacting standards of the ISO committee drawing up the PDF/A specification(s). However, engineering documents are often legal documents that need to conform to legal archiving requirements. From that clash of titans emerged the PDF/A-4e flavor of PDF/A, which additionally supports 3D and RichMedia annotations, permitting long-term preservation of engineering content.
So what are the best practices that will allow PDF documents that contain embedded 3D models to withstand the ravages of time, when Acrobat may be no more? Great question; that’s what we are going to try to find out.
In part, the mission is to find out how to best configure RichMedia annotations to capture all the information necessary to correctly display these annotations, as they were intended, well into a distant future. In another part, we also need to find the implicit assumptions and make them explicit so that other developers besides Adobe can implement support for this type of annotation.
Lastly, we also need to reexamine the audio and video capabilities of this annotation. Adobe seemed to have counted upon Flash for back-end support of such assets embedded within PDFs, and of course, Flash is no more (See prior comment about ravages of time, but also clash of titans). It seems silly to have an annotation dedicated to Rich Media and have it effectively only support one such form of media. So how do we resurrect these capabilities for the future?
Hopefully, with your help.
All Partner, Full and Individual members of the PDF Association are hereby invited to join a new Rich Media Technical Working Group to develop guidance and best-practices for implementing rich media in PDF. Simply login to the Member Area, "Manage Communities" and join the Rich Media TWG today! Meetings start in late May.
Patrick Gallot, has been working with software developers and PDFs since 2000. At Datalogics, he is the lead technical support Engineer for the Adobe PDF Library and Datalogics PDF Java Toolkit, helping our customers resolve their complex questions and challenges. He is also active in the PDF community, presents at industry trade shows and events, and is a regular contributor …