Adobe e-doc format under siege

Adobe Systems' portable document format, long a de facto Internet standard, is under fire from competitors looking to muscle in on the electronic document market.

Autodesk, the leading maker of drafting software for architectural and engineering documents, recently began an aggressive advertising campaign urging customers to share documents in Autodesk's own Design Web Format (DWF) rather than in Adobe's PDF. In addition, Macromedia introduced FlashPaper, a new component based on the company's widespread Flash animation format that allows documents to easily be incorporated into Web pages and printed.

One of the most influential Web design writers, Jakob Nielsen, recently attacked the widespread use of PDF for displaying documents over the Web, declaring the format "unfit for human consumption." The challenges come at a key time for San Jose, Calif.-based Adobe, which attributed a major earnings boost last week to a new line of PDF-related products released earlier this year. While PDF is firmly established in the PC world, "I think there's always the possibility of a real threat," said Rob Lancaster, an analyst for research firm The Yankee Group. "Adobe is attempting to entrench itself within business applications, extending the capabilities of PDF beyond its typical role as viewing software, and a big part of that appeal rests on the ubiquity of the viewing capability."

News source: C|Net News.com

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