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Red-hot conference sessions in Orlando

May 18, 2006

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After attending some truly informative sessions during the first day of AGI's Adobe Acrobat and PDF Conference in Orlando, I thought I'd share my impressions of two of the most notable, on forms and the new PDF/A standard, respectively.

Forms are first on the agenda. I found this session to be really educational. The charming Ted Padova proved to be an entertaining speaker -- perhaps even more than intended, after his computer crashed mid-presentation. Although it initially looked as though every live demo technician's nightmare had been realized and the Adobe LiveCycle Designer software had caused the crash, but it turned out to be a simple power failure. Well, not really a power failure, but more a laptop battery that eventually ran out as the power strip wasn't actually plugged into the wall. Ah well, it looks as though we'll need to look harder for some scandal!

Ted Padova


Figure 1. Ted Padova: Coz every girl crazy 'bout a sharp dressed man.

The well-attended session was called "PDF Forms: Choosing the right tools" and focused on the uses of the two different forms infrastructures compatible with Acrobat: the native "Acroforms", and the external Adobe LiveCycle Designer. After a quick overview of the history of Acrobat Development, Ted relayed the origins of Adobe's Form Designer from Adobe's initial acquisition of Accelio in 2002 to its rebirth as Adobe Designer in late 2004.

Despite its many strengths, Padova argued that Adobe LiveCycle Designer still needs to be "Adobified" to be brought more in line with Adobe's other products. He cited several current interoperability issues, including the fact that some Acroforms features are not implemented in Designer, Designer forms not editable in Acrobat and that translation of JavaScript between Acrobat and Designer can be problematic. He then went on to detail some general procedures on the creation and use of forms with both products.

The other key session I wanted to address was "PDF/A - PDF for Archiving", presented by Leonard Rosenthol. To kick off the session, the initial questions thrown around were:

  • "Will your PDF's be PDF/A ready in 10, 20, 100 years time?"
  • "How will people view PDFs in 100 years time?"
  • "What if Adobe and PDF does not exist?"
  • "Why is it important to have a set of PDF archival standards?"

Rosenthol summarized the main reasons for specific PDF standards, including the point that as PDF has grown and matured, it has evolved from electronic paper to something more like a digital envelope. Further, he posited that there is a definite need for long-term electronic preservation of documents with true individual representation.

The PDF/A(rchival) standard was finalized recently by the International Standards Organization (ISO) in late-2005, but archivists are already meeting with the PDF/A committee to discuss successive versions that will allow for the equivalent long-term storage of 3D graphics, images and Flash movies.

The session then listed several tools that could be useful in achieving PDF/A compliance, including Aquaforest's Tiff Junction, PDF Tools AG's 3-Heights PDF Validate and Rosenthol's own company's PDF Appraiser, which allows the identification and resolution of PDF/A compliance issues.

That's all from me for today, but stay tuned for more on the show from Planet PDF!

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