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PDF Makes Strong Showing Down Under at Open Publish

July 30, 2004

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Sydney, Australia -- PDF played a part in a number of sessions that were "officially" outside the PDF track this year. The conference, staged in Sydney's CBD, has evolved from a strong XML/SGML base, which makes the increased prominence of PDF an encouraging sign for Adobe, whose focus in recent years has been on the integration of XML and PDF. This theme came together with an overview of the Intelligent Document Platform (IDP) from Adobe's Ian Palangio, who described the various products involved as modular, "snap-in" components that could be used according to specific workflow requirements.

Chris Dahl of ARTS PDF Solutions produced a different vision; outlining alternatives to Adobe-only solutions in the form of custom or 3rd-party options to implement server-based PDF creation, manipulation, and the administration of advanced Digital Rights Management (DRM).

Yesterday, the technical track brought us TOWER Software's Grant Allen. He introduced the concept of open source, and outlined several of the myriad open source PDF libraries in a little more depth. Allen also highlighted some potential issues related to open source in general; specifically, the relative lack of documentation compared to commercial offerings and increased lead-time at the start of a given project. One reason for this is the amount of research required prior to committing to a particular library -- if you have chosen incorrectly, you can pay dearly down the line.

Despite a few minor scheduling conflicts -- for example, a presentation on Xforms was run at the same time as another on InfoPath -- the show's sessions were generally well attended and the audiences receptive. Other than those few hiccups, the three-track system seems to be an effective way to make use of the time available, and I expect to see that format again next time around.

As for me, I had the privilege of speaking this morning on PDF accessibility and compliance, and was pleasantly surprised by the number of questions that came from the government-heavy audience. Apologies to those whose questions I wasn't able to answer today due to time constraints, but perhaps you can post them on the Planet PDF Forum. Or, you could ask me in person at next year's show -- any old excuse to return to beautiful Sydney!

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