back to article ISO certifies Adobe's PDF

The International Standardisation Organisation has ratified Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF) as an official international standard, though it won't make PDF documents load any faster. Adobe handed PDF to the Association for Information and Image Management about 18 months ago, which started the standardisation process. …


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  1. Calum Morrison
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    Sod Adobe Reader

    Use Foxit Reader instead; it opens instantly...

  2. David Cornes
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    "There is (another frikkin) update available for Acrobat"

    Does this mean Adobe is going to slow down punting out ever newer versions of the PDF Reader - with yet more pointless addins (an Internet search box??!) - which then nag you to install them incessantly?

    I wish they'd just put out a stripped down basic fast free viewer app, and save all the other gubbins for those that pay for it!

  3. Mark Land

    Mac, PDF

    My Old OS X Tiger has preview built in that opens PDF and a PDF printer built in that allows, for instance, to print Word docs into PDF format. Very useful. I wonder which version of PDF reader achieves the standard. I prefer the older versions as there were more lightweight.

    I think PDF would be more widespread if quality tools to create PDFs were available and free. You can create web pages with any text editor...You can create Word docs with OpenOffice.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Buggy, bloated, stupid hand-drag scrolling, upgrade-nagging...

    With so many features, ranging from the pointless and confusing to the mind-numbingly irritating, I'm surprised it's taken so long to become a standard.

  5. Brian Griffin
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    Agree with Calum

    I changed to foxit and was amazed to find that most of the delay in opening a PDF wasn't due to a complex file format that took a long time to decode, but was in fact just the Adobe reader doing god knows what while opening the file. Foxit opens pretty much instantly assuming the download's complete.

    Thumbs up to a great document format. Thumbs down for Adobe failing to come up with a quick lightweight free reader.

  6. Kevin Fields

    OpenOffice already creates PDF

    I've been very happy with the OpenOffice for creating PDF documents. Quick and easy, and, indeed, it is WYSIWOG. I'm also using Foxit Reader as my PDF reader of choice.

  7. Steven Raith



    can you say that?


    Steven R

  8. Dunstan Vavasour


    I was horrified to find that have removed Acrobat Reader - was this at Adobe's asking I wonder?

    Fortunately I have Acrobat Reader 5.0.5 stashed away, and ripping off whatever's installed and putting in 5.0.5 is an early job with any new machine.

  9. Daniel B.


    Good. Actually, PDF's basically the only format I know that is standard enough to be read by both official Adobe Readers and the free versions (like xpdf). I've been using PDF's since the old PageMaker 4.0 days, which freely included the Acrobat Distiller (no need for the full Acrobat version!) Even when I was the only one using PageMaker, I could export to PDF and print the thing anywhere.

    I think the reason PDF didn't really take off is because Office didn't include the Acrobat Distiller, and PageMaker didn't get much use outside the publishing areas... except for my dad & me, who used it for most documents. Fortunately, that gave me an edge in my highschool and early college research papers, the teacher was impressed at the mere looks of my paper and I got extra points for that. Oh well...

  10. Terry Blay
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    It does the job....

    Just because the reader has acquired bloatware and become a pain in the arse, doesn't mean the format/concept is bad at all, in fact I think it's great to be able to recieve/download a document from any platform (Windows, Mac, Linux, Unix etc. etc) and print it out exactly how it was meant to be printed.

    I use a third party (not Adobe) app to read and even create PDF docs, and it always works well for me... so it's a worthy standard (it's already a de-facto standard anyway)

    /two cents

  11. thomas k.

    older version

    Yes, still using 5.1myself

  12. Dale

    Foxit is my hero

    For reading PDFs, Foxit Reader is my hero. As others have pointed out, it's fast to load and free for everything I need to do with PDF documents (that is, read them). It has payware extra features that I don't need which nag if I accidentally click on them. After discovering Foxit, I have now uninstall Acrobat Reader both at home and at the office, and I vigourously deny any of those programs that offer to reinstall it as part of their installations.

    For creating PDFs, PDFCreator is freeware magic. It installs a printer driver which spits out a PDF document instead of paper. Easy peasy. I made it my default printer so that those programs that print immediately without presenting a Print dialog box (Word, for example) don't spew out paper when I accidentally click the wrong button on the toolbar.

  13. Joel Mansford

    Free client that allows form-filling?

    I'd really like the standard client to include support for saving completed forms. That would be _REALLY_ useful.

    As in, I develop (write?) a PDF form e-mail it to someone, they type in the boxes and return it both one printed + signed and one as an e-mail.

    Unfortunately both Foxit and Adobe charge for that functionality which means that there's little point in investing in the full authoring version knowing no client uses it.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Version 5 - That's nuttin'!

    I recently came across a CD from the US FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) called "MoneySmart" designed to teach various aspects of basic financial management - how to balance a check book, your rights as a consumer, etc.

    The CD was mastered in 2006, and is basically a Flash menu with links to various .PPT and .PDF files.

    When you click on link to a .PDF file, the CD tries to install Adobe Reader version 4.0, even if you have a current version of Adobe Reader already installed. When you click on a link to a .PPT file, the CD presents a File Open dialog and you to point it to powerpnt.exe - no OpenOffice.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As others have said

    As others have said, Foxit reader and PDFcreator are far superiour to Adobe Acrobat PDF reader.

  16. Rick Stockton
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    For EDITING pdf's .....

    OpenOffice 3.0 will read-modify-save them. (OpenOffice 2.x can only "export" a non-PDF document to PDF, it can't read them.)

    Unlike so-called "OOXML", the PDF format specification is complete and sufficient. (All by itself, without needing to "license" additional proprietary secrets under terms to be chosen by a convicted criminal corporation.) This is a standard people can actually USE.

    In the near future, use of PDF authorware might be much more common than it is today. Instead of trying to make glitzy fliers and other graphics-intensive documents from inside "text document" tools, native pdf editing might be a commonplace thing-- even in SOHO and Home environments, where no one is willing to pay $$$hundreds for Acrobat Professional.

  17. Chris Girocco

    All We Needed Was Venture Mark-up

    That mark-up rocked, was text-based, and completely professional. And I'm talking the old GEM version, not the rebloated Corel incarnation.

  18. Adrian Esdaile

    I Love Standards

    So, now PDF is a standard:

    1. Microsoft will 'extend' it as XPDF and bolt on embedded WMA, XLS and DOC file 'functionality' and also let XPDF be auto-executing files at root level.

    2. Linux freetards will recompile PDF in about 19 different flavours, all slightly mutally incompatible, all requiring about 760MB of wierd lib.* files to even run. Every *.nix will require kernel patches to run it, and the viewer app will have 273x273 pixel icons in 8 colours that you CAN'T RESIZE! And the 'File' menu will be on the bottom right corner, and will fold out upwards. And the view window will be a triangle, because triangles are 'more stable than quadrilaterals'. and there will be 27 buttons that take you back to the first page, and a hidden button to quit. But you'll be able to use EMACS shortcut keys (from an obscure 1991 build for DEC Alpha).

    3. Apple will jump to a highly advanced 937-bit self-aware cryptographic format that can display 3.57x10^12 colours (as long as they are all white), while immediately severing all support for 'antiquated and just UNCOOL' PDF. Perfect for up-skirt images taken in their new glass-floored Sydney cool-people-only store.

    4. Adobe will activate the top secret DRM they hid in PDF all those years ago, just waiting for this moment, and implement a pay-per-view system. Bugs in the viewer will change every 'e' in the document to an 'l', the number '7' will always print sideways, it won't print the colour green, documents with less than three pages will blue-screen, and it root kits your machine when you install it.

    5. Everyone else will go back to using LaTeX (oh, GOD, NO!)

    6. or failing that, vi and *.txt

    The thing I love about standards is that there are so many to chose from.

  19. Anonymous Coward
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    Re: Foxit

    Free, open source Sumatra PDF reader. Lightweight, fast, can run of a usb drive:

  20. Anonymous Coward
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    PDF is a great format: opens instantly in any reader apart from Adobe Reader. Google Docs also exports to it, which is fantastic.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Acrobat Reader 5?

    Good plan.

    Except that you can't open later versions of PDFs in older versions of the reader.

    Foxit for me, although I'll be taking a look at that Sumatra thing.

  22. John Widger
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    @Anon Cow Re: Foxit

    I agree with you but now use Open Office 3.0. I'm a miser for space as I started using computers in the days when you only had 1Kb and every byte counted. This was further enforced when I began using greedy M$ OSs and programs. Now, since switching to a Gnu/Linux distro, I have over a Tb free.

    Back on topic. Yes anything but Adobe.

  23. Anonymous Coward
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    don't blame the format coz the reader sucks

    the worst thing about working with PDFs has always been adobe's horrible, sluggish, bloated reader. the actual PDF file format itself is fine [certainly when compared to junk like microsoft's 'chm'].

    OSX's preview opens PDFs pretty damned near instantly and the built-in 'print to PDF' option in print dialogues makes creating PDFs a cinch. so i tend to create and store a lot of my docs as PDFs because it's a convenient cross-platform, non-proprietory and future-proof format.

    the biggest gripe i have with PDF is their non-editability. if i could open a PDF, make changes and then save again, it would be almost the perfect file format and i'd probably end up storing all my text docs as PDFs. it's really annoying to print out a PDF, read through it and spot a typo you missed while proof-reading and know that you'll have to open up the original app and document from which the PDF was created, fix the error and then reprint the PDF all over again.

    @Rick Stockton

    "... OpenOffice 3.0 will read-modify-save them..."

    you sure about that? i wasnae aware that there were any apps that could open PDFs in an editable form

  24. Eddie Johnson

    @Adrian Esdaile

    Too funny! But hopefully it won't use EMACS, it'll be based on JOVE!

    @Foxit Evangelists

    I installed Foxit because I too was fed up with a new version of Adobe Reader every week, a 50M download, and huge ass MSI packages installed both in user profiles and under program files.

    Yep Foxit opens faster :). Now open up a complex PDF, maybe one that includes vector graphics like a PdfCreator print from Autocad. Foxit takes forever to draw. Now drag the window to the other side of your screen, without even resizing it, and wait for Foxit to take forever *again* to redraw. Now resize the window down a little, because you don't need all that gray background outside the page border and wait for Foxit to take forever *again* to redraw.

    Now repeat this task with Adobe and see which one actually takes more time. At least Adobe properly caches the rendered screen image instead of starting over from scratch every time you move the window around.

    Foxit is good but its not there yet, it shows all the signs of amateurly written software that has never been firetested with large, complex documents.

    I do like how it remembers the last page I was on and the last printer used though.

  25. penthes
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    OK for reading, no good for analysing

    PDF has one major problem - no document structural markup, ie anything indicating what's a heading, where a paragraph starts and ends etc.

    Fine for viewing on screen and printing, but if you want a machine to read it, analyse it, extract information for search & discovery, then it's awful. Even worse if you want to extract tables or other structured information.

    HTML's actually a much better format for this.

    Unfortunately a lot of documents are getting published (and archived) in PDF only.

  26. stizzleswick


    ""... OpenOffice 3.0 will read-modify-save them..."

    you sure about that? i wasnae aware that there were any apps that could open PDFs in an editable form"

    Yep, the OOo "what's new" for 3.0 includes the capability to import PDF for editing. Besides that, there are several apps that can edit PDF files, beginning (of course) with Acrobat Professional, Adobe Illustrator (one page at a time), Freehand (was a bit rudimentary in the last version I used, but good enough to change some text)... and of course, if you only want to change some positioning or text content, any text editor will do (if you know a little about the actual PDF language -- it's a bit like an uprated version of Postscript). I'm certain there are a bunch of other applications out there that can do it, too.

    And to all those whining about "yet another standard," be advised that PDF has been THE standard in the printing industry for over a decade now, because it delivers exactly what the graphic designer has concocted in a small, cross-platform compatible and non-misinterpretable package. Anybody who has ever tried to get exactly what was designed over to the printer's in any application-proprietary file format or markup format (PDF is not a markup format, it's a page description language like Postscript!) will probably understand the seductiveness of the Portable Document Format.

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