The just-released 2nd edition of PDF 2.0, ISO 32000-2:2020 replaces the 2017 edition. This is the finalized publication that we previously discussed; what ISO calls a ‘dated revision’.
In addition to many important clarifications and corrections to the 2017 publication, this new edition includes critical updates to the normative references (see clause 2) and character collections (see this article) that underlie all PDF technology. All PDF developers should procure this edition.
Published mere weeks earlier in 2020 are a variety of PDF subset specifications based on the new ISO 32000-2:2020, which is essential to their implementation. This article provides a high-level overview.
The new specification of PDF/A provides normative guidance on archiving of new features and other changes associated with PDF 2.0 including page level output intents and improvements to tagged PDF. As such it provides an archival pathway for PDF 2.0 files without loss of PDF 2.0 features.
As with the other PDF/A specifications, PDF/A does not require or provide mechanisms for authentication; it’s strictly intended to facilitate long-term preservation.
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Twenty years ago PDF/X led the way in ISO-standardized PDF technology with specifications oriented towards digital data exchange in graphic arts (the “X” in PDF/X is for eXchange).
The latest-generation PDF/X incorporates all of the features and benefits of the PDF/X‐1a, PDF/X‐3 and PDF/X‐4 specifications while adding support for new features in PDF 2.0 such as page level output intents, black point compensation, halftone origins and CxF/X-4 spot colour characterisation data. For the first time PDF/X-6 permits PDF/X files to have annotations, including digital signatures, form fields and videos, reducing complexity in multi-channel workflows.
PDF/X files are traditionally self-contained. The new optional conformance levels in PDF/X-6 (conformance levels n and p) accommodate a wider variety of process optimizations and workflows as they allow ICC profiles to be maintained externally.
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The PDF/VT-3 standard builds on PDF/X-6 (defined in ISO 15930-9) to provide support for the PDF 2.0 imaging model in the variable and transactional printing context.
PDF/VT-3 allows use of graphic object definitions to specify graphical content data only once, independent of the number of times it is referenced in the file, and include hinting information allowing for a variety of processing optimisation strategies. PDF/VT-3 accommodates both fully self-contained PDF/X-6 models as well as external data-dependent PDF/X-6p and PDF/X-6n workflows.
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A new ISO standard, PDF/R-1 (for “raster”) was originally developed as “PDF/raster” by a volunteer committee of the PDF Association at the request of the TWAIN Working Group. PDF/R describes a tightly-restricted subset of PDF intended exclusively for storing, transporting and exchanging multi-page raster-image documents, especially scanned documents and photographs.
PDF/R provides the portability and flexibility of PDF while offering the core functionality of TIFF. The format supports uncompressed bitonal, grayscale and RGB images as well as JPEG or lossless CCITT Group 4 Fax compression. PDF/R-1 is capable of being generated directly in very small embedded systems such as scanners.
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This functionality includes the following features, among others:
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