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.
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The Power of the Page

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PDF Developers Meet in Basel, Switzerland

A typical scene from the 2012 PDF Technical Conference.In the last week of March 2012 the PDF Association organized the world’s first PDF Technical Conference in Basel, Switzerland.

Organized by PDF Association Chairman Olaf Drümmer, over 60 PDF developers from more than a dozen countries were in attendance to expand their awareness of and thinking about PDF technology.

Adobe's door sign and paper showing the PDF Conference is here!Adobe Systems kindly donated their Basel offices to the cause of technical education, allowing a temporary overrun of their otherwise calm workspaces by hordes of developers from across the globe. Adobe’s staff were more than accommodating, the famous Swiss hospitality was on display and deeply appreciated by those led by Olaf who set up and operated the conference venue and technology.

As the world’s chosen format for electronic paper, PDF is an extraordinarily broad and deep technology, with capabilities that range from high-end printing to fillable forms to meeting the needs of disabled users who require special technology in order to read.

Conference topics were oriented to the needs and interests of developers; the idea was to present in-depth technical information, and to hold technical discussions. All conference sessions were recorded for the benefit of PDF Association members, including original slides and a recording of the presentation as delivered.

A typical scene from the 2012 PDF Technical Conference.According to participants, the two days of intensive technical sessions offered a unique opportunity to expand their knowledge of the Portable Document Format.  The Conference opened with a variation on the classic “7 minutes” format, a popular favorite. This time we began with “7 minutes with a PDF Standard” in which 7 speakers in no more than 7 minutes each covered PDF, PDF/A, PDF/E, PDF/UA, PDF/VT, PDF/X, PRC and XMP!

Following the introduction to PDF Standards the conference’s two tracks addressed several major topic areas. On Tuesday PDF/VT, a relatively new document targeted at transactional printing needs, was in the lead role, with three dedicated sessions. Other subjects addressed on the opening day included color, validation (business case, syntax and rendering), scanned PDF and digital signatures.

A typical scene at the PDF Technical Conference.Various ISO standards committee representatives, including PDF Association Vice Chairman and ISO 32000 Project Co-Leader Duff Johnson were on hand to promote participation in ISO Standards development and AIIM standards committees and to discuss developments in the forthcoming PDF 2.0, ISO 32000-2.

On Tuesday night the participants all gathered for a traditional Swiss cheese fondue just steps away from the conference venue. While we await survey results from the Conference participants, we feel reasonably confidant that everyone enjoyed the experience and came away satisfied!

Rene Jaun, of Access for All, presenting.On Wednesday PDF/UA took the stage. First we heard from a real-world end user, an unusually articulate end user, in fact. René Jaun, who is blind, demonstrated to an attentive audience the real and meaningful difference between merely tagged and well-tagged content. Next up, Duff Johnson introduced developers to some of the file format requirements of PDF/UA. Adobe Systems’ Matthew Hardy completed the trio of PDF/UA presentations with a brass-tacks technical discussion of the PDF tags mechanism.

Other sessions on Wednesday included deep technical discussions on transparency, PDF/A, PDF/A, Fonts and XMP.

Bill McCoy presenting on Ebooks.Bill McCoy, of the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF), opened and closed the day on Wednesday with a pair of presentations exploring the question of mobile and other devices, and in particular, how PDF stacks up against Ebook. His presentations were entertaining, informative and thought provoking. Association members are encouraged to review the recordings from the PDF Association Intranet at their leisure.

PDFUA Competence Center logoWhile the main part of the PDF Technical Conference closed at the end of Wednesday, a group of 17 members stayed for the first in-person meeting of the PDF Association’s PDF/UA Competence Center. We reviewed the status of PDF/UA and planned a variety of educational technical and promotional activities.

PDF Association members who attended are encouraged to review the recordings of the sessions they missed, and to respond to the PDF Technical Conference Survey to help the PDF Association plan the next successful PDF Technical Conference!

Tags: 2012 PDF Technical Conference, event
Categories: Digital Signatures, Forms, PDF, PDF/A, PDF/UA, PDF/VT, PDF/X, XMP