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PDF goes to ISO: Some background

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Duff Johnson

Since 2011, Duff has worked in the ECM industry specializing in PDF technology since 1995. An industry leader, Duff co-chairs the international committee that manages ISO 32000, the specification for the PDF file format. Responsible for marketing and product...  More



I was on vacation when Adobe announced that the latest 1.7 edition of the venerable PDF Reference was to be shepherded towards an ISO Standard via AIIM.

Now the initial dust cloud is settling, I'll address this move in two articles. For brevity's sake, I will provide links for the technical terms used.

First I checked Adobe's own FAQ for the move to ISO -- it is certainly forthright. Perhaps like most others in this business, I next thought: "great idea, just what all the stick-in-the-muds have been waiting for." Some worthy contributions have appeared in the blogosphere, especially from RedMonk, and the comments on Scobleizer and Duane's World are also interesting. Overall, the news is well-received.

My participation in AIIM's PDF/UA (Universal Accessibility) Standards Committee for the past two years has provided some perspective on PDF in real-world standards development terms. Like anyone else, software developers like to set lofty goals for their more considered efforts, while committees tend to punt on the harder stuff. Developer Committees, on the other hand, are notably forthright in their respect for the concerns of unabashed and articulate consumers of the eventual end products. The trick is getting everyone together in the same room - and conceptually, on the same page. Most end-users don't talk developer-ese, and software standards, of necessity, are developer-oriented documents.

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