PDF In-Depth

Why PDF?

Smaller file-size, yet fully searchable

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When converting to a PDF file, it's usually possible to reduce the file-size substantially below that of the original source files. Even for scanned documents, conversion to PDF generally means smaller files - and more importantly, scanned pages can be made into searchable PDFs.

WHY YOU MIGHT CARE: Although hard-drives are getting larger and larger, a 195kb PDF file is usually preferred over a 2.95 MB Word file, especially if users aren't expected to edit it.

Self-contained

Unlike most authoring formats, a properly-made PDF file includes all content, fonts, images, structure, signatures, encryption, scripts and other resources necessary to the appearance and proper function of the file in an ISO 32000 conforming reader.

PDF just works everywhere; it has no server or style-sheet dependencies, and each page may be extracted into it's own self-contained PDF file.

WHY YOU MIGHT CARE: Self-contained files are inherently rugged and adaptable, for example, they can go offline, be emailed, FTPed or accessed in any preferred manner, always with the same result.

Stylized page with lock.

Makes content from any source accessible to users with disabilities

One of the great beauties of PDF is the ability to make almost any source content accessible to users with disabilities who must use Assistive Technology (AT) in order to read. From scanned documents to drawings, diagrams and multilingual content, PDF files may be tagged to provide a complete, high-quality reading and navigating experience.

Many applications can't generate accessible content by themselves, but converted to PDF, these documents may be structured and tagged for complete accessibility.

Stylized page with blind user.

WHY YOU MIGHT CARE: For Federal agencies and contractors, Section 508 requires that electronic documents be accessible. Other jurisdictions are beginning to adopt similar regulations, and many businesses are choosing to post accessible content.

A multiplatform International Standard

PDF is a truly multiplatform technology, and it's here to stay. PDF is equally at home on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, UNIX, Android and any other operating system.

International Organization for Standardization logo.

No-one has ever had to pay Adobe a royalty to make PDF files, and the company has published the PDF Reference since the beginning. Until recently, Adobe kept the copyright and updated the Reference, the "rules of the road" for PDF, as they wished.

In 2008, Adobe ceded control of the PDF specification to ISO, the International Standards Organization. Now known as ISO 32000, PDF is an International Standard; it is no longer owned by Adobe Systems but is managed by diverse members of the electronic document industry, with free and open access to all interested parties as observers or full voting members.

WHY YOU MIGHT CARE: While PDF is everywhere, one lingering doubt for some has been the idea that Adobe Systems "owned" PDF and therefore, adopting PDF for critical business functions would create a vulnerability. Turning over PDF to ISO is the categorical solution to this concern -- Adobe Systems or no, PDF is here to stay, and no-one owns your PDF files except you.

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