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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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“PDF can do THAT?!”

PDF files deliver a complete package of information that defines a document; everything that’s needed to represent the text, graphics and layout that the recipient receives. To most people, PDF is “electronic paper” – the digital expression of a cellul …

The only digital document format

What is a “document”? A document is a record of some (typically written) content – a publication, a contract, a statement, a painting – at a moment in time. Until the advent of computers (and scanners), the media typically considered useable for such r …

Save the Date: PDF Days Europe 2018, May 14-16, in Berlin

PDF Days Europe is the most popular PDF event of the year. It’s where the PDF industry meets, and where institutional and corporate users come to learn what else PDF could do for them. The first two PDF Days will offer a broad range of educational sessions focussed on current and perennial topics in the world of PDF technology implementation.

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 …

Who owns PDF?


Most people closely identify PDF with Adobe Systems. We can’t fault the typical end-user for this perception – Adobe did invent PDF back in 1993, and has developed, maintained and distributed the ubiquitous free Adobe Reader and commercial Adobe Acrobat software ever since.

But Adobe no longer owns PDF. The company gave the format to the ISO in 2008 – the PDF specification is now formally known as ISO 32000. While the company still makes the most commonly-recognized PDF software, Adobe is now just one of many companies sending representatives to ISO 32000 meetings to discuss the next-generation PDF specification and the various subset standards for PDF.

Does it matter?

I’m often speaking with IT executives, CIOs, directors and other technical policy managers in large corporations and government agencies. The subject is generally a critical business-process or set of project requirements. All such managers want to avoid “vendor lock-in”. And with PDF, it seems, it’s still commonly believed that using a PDF technology solution implies some sort of commitment to Adobe Systems. It’s not so.

PDF is everywhere – in every country and almost every organization across the globe. It’s impossible to ignore, and for IT professionals, it makes a lot of sense to understand a little bit about it.

Here are some facts about PDF that every information management professional should know.

1o facts about PDF every IT professional should know

  1. PDF stands for Portable Document Format
  2. Unlike TIFF or JPEG, which are simply image formats, PDF is a type of electronic document
  3. PDF isn’t the only final-form electronic document technology, but it’s far-and-away the most dominant
  4. Adobe Systems invented but no longer owns PDF. On July 1, 2008, Adobe’s PDF Reference 1.7 became ISO 32000, an International Standard
  5. ISO 32000 is managed by representatives of industry and government in open meetings under parliamentary rules. Anyone can observe and participate
  6. ISO standards for PDF technology now include specifications for archival, accessibility, engineering, prepress and more
  7. Anyone may create applications that read and write PDF files without paying royalties to Adobe Systems or to anyone else
  8. Adobe is not the only provider of PDF creation, manipulation or viewing software, there are hundreds of other PDF technology vendors
  9. Tens of billions of PDF files exist today, with billions more created each year
  10. The very first PDF file was a tax form, specifically, an IRS form 1040

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Categories: PDF