Adobe Turns PDF Over to Standards Body

Adobe Systems turned over the full Portable Document Format (PDF) 1.7 specification to AIIM, the Enterprise Content Management Association, for publication by the International Standards Organization (ISO). Yep, that's a mouthful. Why would Adobe bother? The company claims that this is simply the "next logical step" for the PDF format. However, it is more likely that the main reason for the move is Microsoft's competing XPS format. Both technologies allow customers to print documents without needing the actual application that created it. Adobe is just taking precautionary steps to make sure XPS doesn't make PDF disappear.

"We're handing it over to a group that will eventually drive it to become a recognized ISO standard. We're doing it because we feel it's the next logical extension of where PDF has been in the past and where it needs to go in the future. This move, making the entire PDF specification an ISO standard, will go to allay concerns that some people have voiced that at some point in the future it could go away," said Sarah Rosenbaum, director of product management at Adobe.

"By releasing the full PDF specification for ISO standardization, we are reinforcing our commitment to openness. As governments and organizations increasingly request open formats, maintenance of the PDF specification by an external and participatory organization will help continue to drive innovation and expand the rich PDF ecosystem that has evolved over the past 15 years," said Kevin Lynch, chief software architect and SVP of the platform business unit at Adobe.

News source: InformationWeek

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

New Vista Home Page Launches

Next Story

Shanghai stages 4G telephony rollout, claims a world first

34 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

Now that you delcared the non MS format to be so superior.

Explain why PDF is better, and why XPS shoudl die, and do it without usign stuff like "because it's MS", "becuase it's not MS" and "MS sucks, MS is teh evil"


and after you've done that, you can go into details on what technical details makes a "real" standard

HawkMan said,
Now that you delcared the non MS format to be so superior.

Explain why PDF is better, and why XPS shoudl die, and do it without usign stuff like "because it's MS", "becuase it's not MS" and "MS sucks, MS is teh evil"


and after you've done that, you can go into details on what technical details makes a "real" standard

.... ms IS teh evil, but!

HawkMan said,
Now that you delcared the non MS format to be so superior.

Explain why PDF is better, and why XPS shoudl die, and do it without usign stuff like "because it's MS", "becuase it's not MS" and "MS sucks, MS is teh evil"


and after you've done that, you can go into details on what technical details makes a "real" standard


And from your statements I'd assume you think that XPS is better. Why do you think that? What technical details make it a "real" standard?

not_cool said,

And from your statements I'd assume you think that XPS is better. Why do you think that? What technical details make it a "real" standard?

And from your reply I'd assume you think he thinks XPS is better, Why do you think that?

No I didn't say that actuall, I just wanted to know the reasons behind his well thoguht out reply.

personally I think there's room for both, and only time will tell if one is better or not.

it's funny how everyone is for competition when it's against an MS format, but when MS brings up a competing format, in a monopolized arena, then it's bad... go figure...

Hey guys, just to set the facts straight, Microsoft already offers the Save as PDF as a plugin today don't they? I don't want to get into an argument, but the facts are that PDF has always been a de facto standard that anyone is free to implement. Given their status as a monopoly (as determined by others, not Adobe), antitrust regulations determine whether or not Microsoft is allowed to bundle products and technology, NOT Adobe.

Regardless, I would like to propose that PDF being in a neutral third party standards body also removes any future speculation about this and hope we can all agree it is a good thing for all PDF users. Regardless of what you believe in the past, this should be embraced as a win-win right?

Cheers!

Duane (my last word)


I have to disagree with you that the antitrust regulartors determine what Microsoft should bundle when it comes to PDF. Microsoft had the save as PDF as part of Office by default and then suddenly removed it. Is it the official statement of Adobe that they did not cause Microsoft to remove PDF ability as part of the default installation?

Furthermore, do you see anything anti-competitive by Microsoft providing save as PDF functionality as part of the default installation? If so, why? Is it because of the addition of XPS along-side it?

There are many questions that Adobe must answer the public to regain some respect from the IT community. Your company may not think it is necessary to respond because it probably will not impact the use of PDF anyway, but I would strongly urge you to reconsider. As it stands right now, there is not much trust in Adobe because of the reports of what happened with Office 2007.

If Adobe truly wants PDF to be standard they would approach Microsoft and the EU and allow Microsoft to position the save as PDF option as an integral part of Office 2007. This could be depoyed in a Service Pack to existing customers. What other reason would you have for not wanting it in Office? It makes more business sense to include it in Office for millions of customers then it does for it to be only given to thousands that take the time to search for add-ons.

I have very little respect for Adobe. The Save-to-PDF feature in Office 2007 would've been terrific for the industry. Instead, Adobe whines about intellectual property and raises a big stink when someone develops a competing technology. That sounds rather monopolistic to me.

BTW, for everyone who hates how bloated and slow Adobe Reader is, try out FoxIt reader (http://www.foxitsoftware.com). It's smaller and loads documents twice as fast (no joke, I've tested this myself). It's also free and ad-free. I don't plan on installing Adobe Reader ever again.

makes me wonder why Adobe never raised a big stink about OpenOffice's implementation. it seems like the 'free license' to make and parse PDF's only applies if you're not a widespread company like Microsoft.

Well FoxIt Reader would be great if it implemented FULL support for the PDF standard (e.g. 3D embedded objects, hardware acceleration, etc.) instead of just crashing for specialized documents that make use of the advanced features.

to The_Descryptor:

You were actually correct in your blog - we already submitted PDF/A, PDF/X along with others to ISO. We had just not submitted the parent spec. That has now been done. As noted above, we submitted these long before any XPS speculation.

Hey - just want to set the record straight. I work for Adobe and have been involved in internal and external conversations long before Metro was announced and long before they announced OOXML and XPS were going to ECMA. It is purely a logical decision for business. It no longer makes sense for Adobe to continue to manage PDF internally without the inclusion of the vast number of stakeholders, including other implementers, into the future direction of the spec. We could have continued to do that internally, but that would have duplicated the functionality of standards bodies so it made good business sense to use what was available (AIIM and ISO). Also - given that PDF/A and PDF/X amongst others were already at ISO, we had requests to add more functionality into those specifications to the point where they would be almost as complete as the full PDF spec. Rather than do that, it made sense to just donate the full spec. You shoudl note that PDF/A and other related specifications were also donated to ISO long before Metro/XPS.

Duane Nickull - Sr. Technology Evangelist, Adobe Systems (http://technoracle.blogspot.com)

So, if ISO standardisation has been on the cards for so long, why did Adobe get Microsoft to remove the Save-To-PDF feature?

You shoudl note that PDF/A and other related specifications were also donated to ISO long before Metro/XPS.


And that matters how exactly?

antaris said,
So, if ISO standardisation has been on the cards for so long, why did Adobe get Microsoft to remove the Save-To-PDF feature?

Fact: PDF has always been an open standard that anyone is free to implement. Given their status as a monopoly, antitrust regulations determine whether or not Microsoft is allowed to bundle products and technology, not Adobe.

Regardless of what you believe or whether or not you like or hate Adobe, as an ISO (or AIIM) standard, Adobe would not have any say on who can implement PDF. Simply stated, the IP is no longer under Adobe's control. The move to bring PDF to ISO shows that we have no intent on constraining anyone from implementing it.

nickull said,

Someone earlier on this thread claimed that we did this as a response to XPS.

yes, but if what you say is true there is one problem. Because that would mean Adobe was complaining about office when they already knew it wouldn't matter any way. I don't even find the words how disgusted I aim by that kind of anti-competitive behavior.

That doesn't make any sense. How the hell can they expect to get an ISO standard when they try and make the creation of it proprietary?

You know, if they'd gotten their heads out of their asses and just let Microsoft include PDF creation in Office 2007 by default, or at least agreed to their appeasment conditions (like including the adobe acrobat reader in every vista install, etc which would have given them more market exposure than they give Yahoo with all that bloatware they include in Acrobat installs), they'd get ISO certification no sweat.

Idiots.

Both technologies allow customers to print documents without needing the actual application that created it.

That is NOT what makes them unique, though. You can do that with Word files (Word viewer is free).

PDF and XPS are special because the appearance of the document is the same on any platform or reader, regardless of things like which fonts you have installed on your system. I believe they also tend to be more printer-friendly.

I remember making a fool of myself by claiming it was already a ISO spec in my neoblog, so I'm quite glad to see it's being submitted to them.

XPS is a great format, and has many advantages over PDF - such as it's fantastic integration into .NET 3.0 / WPF. I find this feature very helpful when programming.

Currently, the PDF and AFP formats are the de facto standard in the commercial production print industry. XPS *might* take over a portion of the home/personal market, but MS is many days late and a dollar short if they want to get their foot into the lucrative commercial door. It's going to be an uphill battle for them, but IMHO any competition is good.

That'd be right, after forcing Microsoft to remove the PDF plug-in from Office 2007 OOTB, now, on the eve of it's release, they do this.