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Topic: Re: PDF grammar
Conf: (P-PDF) Developers, Msg: 57999
From: kt
Date: 5/29/2002 05:29 PM

> I'm not an expert on parsing but I would have thought it must be possible to
> write down the grammar for PDF or how does any application make sense of it?
> There are small grammar fragments in the PDF ref manual but not the complete
> thing. I was just wondering if someone had written down the grammar such that
> it could be fed into some parser generator like Yacc.

I think your question is a reasonable one. The PDF 1.3 spec does have tons
of tables listing all the possible keywords for all possible dictionary
entries, plus of course page operators of the Postscript type, but there is
no consolidated summary anywhere. This is a longstanding deficiency of the
reference manual. To figure out which values a given dictionary entry can
accept, you have to wade through tons of tables (which often have forward
references in them to additional dependencies). It's a frustrating morass of
disconnected data.

Addison-Wesley has just come out with a printed version of the PDF spec
which is 200 pages longer than the PDF version, so there may be new material
in there that is helpful. The book can be ordered at:

(If that URL breaks across 2 lines, be sure to enter it in your browser as
one line!)

Kas Thomas
Read the AcroRage column every week at

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