Chapter 13. PDF Standards

Adobe Systems introduced PDF to the world in 1993, including a public specification for the format. However, while many developers were able to create their own tools for reading and writing PDF documents, only Adobe could add or change features in the PDF language itself. Those changes were beneficial to Adobe’s business, but not always to various industries and market segments. For this reason, the print industry pursued the idea of developing a subset of PDF that could then be standardized through an international body such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The result of this work, and the first of the subsets, was PDF/X. A few years later a variety of government and business interests came together to produce PDF/A, the PDF subset focused on long-term archiving of PDF documents. It was the very public work on the development of PDF/A that led to other industries working to bring about the other standards listed here.

In 2007, Adobe recognized that it was time for the full PDF specification to be brought to the ISO. This led to the publication of ISO 32000-1, which turned PDF 1.7 into a fully open international standard.

PDF (ISO 32000)

ISO 32000-1 represents the formalization and publication of the complete PDF 1.7 edition of the Adobe PDF Reference and an open international standard. The ISO committee (TC171/SC2/WG8) spent many years producing a standard that was technically identical to the previous Adobe PDF 1.7, but had undergone ...

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