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The 10 things you need to know about PDF

PDF Day Australia will look at what PDF is, where it’s going and how organisations can use the technology to solve business problems.

PDF Day Australia will take place on 25 November, and will look at the strategic perspective on what PDF is, where it’s going and how organisations can better leverage the technology to solve business problems.

With PDF Day Australia approaching on 25 November in Sydney it is important to stay across the latest advancements in the world of PDF.  PDF Day Australia will be hosted by ISO 32000 committee co-chairman Peter Wyatt R&D General Manager at Canon Information Systems Research Australia (CiSRA) and Matt Kuznicki, Chairman of the PDF Association, and will look at the strategic perspective on what PDF is, where it’s going and how organisations can better leverage the technology to solve business problems.

Just in case you won’t make the event we have scanned the work of the PDF Association and interviewed Peter Wyatt from Canon to come up with the 10 things you should know about PDF.

1.The top two business drivers behind PDF are meeting a) archival requirements, making sure reliable records of documents are retained for many years into the future, this is known as PDF/A and b) useability and accessibility, known as PDF/UA. There are many e-government initiatives happening around the world to ensure that information is made accessible to those who speak other languages and who may have a disability.

2.As “digital paper”, the Portable Document Format (PDF) is both the de facto standard and an open vendor neutral international standard for electronic documents worldwide. No other technology comes close to PDF in both operational flexibility and marketplace acceptance. But with the latest PDF standards, PDF has grown far beyond “digital paper” and can provide rich, interactive documents with multimedia, 3D content and semantics.

3.In Web terms, PDF has existed for a very long time. Any technology that’s accepted to the extent that it can serve as a broad-based, universally accepted standard would have to be relatively old. The specification that defines PDF has changed and improved over time. As a result, not all PDFs are created equal, and not all PDF software is equal in terms of its ability to process PDF.

4.Adobe no longer owns or controls PDF. Although they have around 80 per cent of the market, there are many other companies providing alternatives and addressing the needs of specific industries. Now that PDF is managed by the International Committees of the ISO, an independent PDF Association promotes understanding and adoption of the various International Standards for PDF to vendors, end users, and governments. Importantly the PDF Association can provide businesses with the tools and knowledge to assess the compliance and compatibility of their PDF enabled tools and workflows.

5.PDF/A is the ISO standard for archiving electronic documents using the PDF format. The first part, PDF/A-1, was published on October 1, 2005 and was known as ‘digital paper’. The second and third parts, PDF/A-2 (2011) and PDF/A-3 (2012), enhance PDF/A with support for additional features, including options for combining several PDF/A files into a single PDF/A collection, or embedding source files, XML or other data into a single archivable file.

6.PDF 2.0 will spawn a set of updated subset standards designed to leverage the first PDF standard developed entirely in the open, vendor-neutral world of international standards. This includes the next generation of archival, accessibility, engineering, printing and other industry-specific specifications based on PDF.

7.Acceptance of PDF as a first class citizen of the web technology stack will spread, with developers, implementers and users increasingly leveraging PDF’s capabilities throughout their workflows alongside the open web platform.

8.Government will continue to expand not only its own use of PDF, but is requiring commercial entities to meet various standards for document formats, including PDF.

9.Digital signatures are being increasingly used to streamline business in our modern world. Digital signatures can ensure the integrity of document (that a document has not been tampered), the authenticity of a document (the author of a document is who we think it is), and non-repudiation of a document (an author cannot deny their authorship). The concept of digital signatures in PDF was introduced back in 2000 with PDF 1.3, but has since been constantly updated to reflect modern practices and digital signature technologies.

10.PDF Day Australia will be held on 25 November in Sydney and will provide practical, actionable information for CIOs, CTOs, regulators, ICT leaders, archivists and accessibility experts. There are strictly no sales pitches allowed at the educational event, all content has been reviewed and approved by the PDF Association’s Program Committee for quality and appropriateness. Tickets are first-come-first-served, and cost $50.

Credits to PDF Association and Peter Wyatt CiSRA.

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