PDF In-Depth

Editorial: When the dust settles, what can we expect from Flashy acquisition?

The future of PDF and Flash


Historically, it can hardly be said that the two companies have co-existed peacefully: their shared past includes a slew of patent infringement lawsuits on both sides and hard-fought battles for the hearts and dollars of designers with the FreeHand-Illustrator feud. Let's not forget about Flashpaper, Macromedia's PDF-competitive foray into the realm of static documents for online viewing. Designers aside, it seems that most eyes are firmly focused on the shared future of PDF and Flash. What will the merger mean for the two flagship technologies?

PDF stands to benefit from the greater reach of Flash -- cross-product nagware and improved integration can see to that. Combine that with the PDF output functionality to be included in Office "12," and we can expect an impressive boom in PDF viewing and creation capability as these initiatives come to fruition. Further, increased cross-testing should result in more robust Flash-based multimedia content in PDF.

Flashpaper, or perhaps a PDF hybrid thereof, could see new life as a subset of PDF streamlined for online viewing. While PDFs can be embedded in HTML web pages, the Flashpaper solution is more elegant for short, simple documents. Will Adobe/Macromedia build a cut-down, lightning-fast browser plug-in that opens Flash or PDF documents, but omits more advanced functionality? What about true support for mobile devices? Unfortunately, definitive answers to these questions and more will not be forthcoming until the deal is finalized. Until then, we can only hope, and wait.

One thing's certain: at least we can look forward to a future free of Adobe vs. Macromedia patent infringement suits.

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