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About the contributor
Duff Johnson

A veteran of the electronic document space, Duff Johnson is an independent consultant. He is Executive Director of the PDF Association and ISO Project co-Leader (and US TAG chair) for ISO 32000 and ISO 14289.
More contributions
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.

ISO TC 171 Meets, includes “PDF Week” in Mississauga


From May 21 through 25 the delegates assembled for a full ISO TC 171 meeting. The meetings were held at Microsoft’s conference facility (kindly donated for the purpose) and scheduled, orchestrated, managed and generally supervised by Betsy Fanning, AIIM’s Director of Standards and the Secretary for TC 171. The delegates from a dozen countries were greeted by the ISO member host, the Standards Council of Canada. SCC members NetCentric Technologies and Accessibil-iT hosted the traditional steakhouse dinner for members of the TC.

The following represents a quick summary of the PDF-specific developments in Mississauga.

PDF/A (Archive) – ISO 19005

While PDF/A-3 received a number of comments these were resolved at the table. At the conclusion of dispositioning the Committee decided to send ISO 19005-3 to publication. PDF/A-3 is essentially the same as PDF/A-2, but adds the ability to contain arbitrary attachments. Like PDF/A-2, it does not conflict or interfere with other parts of PDF/A.

PDF/E (Engineering) – ISO 24517 and PRC – ISO 14739

ISO/DIS 14739-1 (PRC) along with PDF/E met on Monday. PRC advanced, with a new DIS ballot scheduled for August. Development of PDF/E-2, which will be based on ISO 32000-1, is moving smartly, with a 2 month Committee Draft (CD) ballot to be issued in June.

PDF/UA (Universal Accessibility) – ISO 14289

While PDF/UA-1 is in an FDIS ballot the document was not discussed in Mississauga. A Work Item was created for PDF/UA-2 and Cherie Ekholm was confirmed as the Project Leader. Between May and September work will continue on PDF/UA-2 via an extension of the ad hoc committee created in Bellevue to study the need for PDF/UA-2.

PDF – ISO 32000

PDF itself is managed by the ISO 32000 committee. This organization is working through the first update to the venerable electronic document format since Adobe Systems gave PDF to the ISO in 2008. ISO 32000-2, PDF will move from 1.7 to version 2.0.

In Mississauga the ISO 32000 Committee took in reports from a variety of ad hoc committees. A number of these ad hoc committees will continue with updated assignments, with areas of continued development to include:

  • Rich Text (an Annex)
  • JavaScript and 3D JavaScript
  • Colour consistency for Separation and DeviceN colour spaces
  • File format syntax
  • Rendering validation
  • Implementation Limits
  • Re—writing tagged PDF (!)

PDF Association members are encouraged to get involved! The next PDF Week is scheduled for September 10-14 in Berlin.

Where do these Standards originate?

International Standards are created, developed and managed by committees of industry experts. Their time is volunteered by their respective companies for the purpose.

Each Committee manages a set of norms (a “Standard”) defined so as to encompass a large-scale business objective – “archive”, “engineering” and “accessibility” to name three.

Conformance with standards means that each vendor’s products and services can interoperate reliably with others. All users benefit with improved quality, reliability and functionality.

To get directly involved in the development of International Standards for PDF, contact Betsy Fanning, Standards Director at AIIM, the organization accredited by ANSI to manage standards development in this area.  Members of the PDF Association can also get help from the Board, or their chapter chairs.


Tags: ISO, Mississauga, TC 171, pdf week
Categories: PDF, PDF/E, PDF/UA