Considering its notable release of Acrobat 8 just months ago, and withstanding some recent criticisms we've published, it's clear Adobe is not shy about raising the bar for the next generation of document collaboration and security software.
So it comes as little surprise that this year Adobe plans to drive towards ISO standardization of its PDF specification. According to Adobe Chief Software Architect Kevin Lynch, this means PDF will evolve from de facto security standard to de jure. As, he doesn't hesitate to add, "it should."Lynch's wordplay reflects more than just a fondness for latin. While PDF has long been the e-document security yardstick, steps are now being made to ensure it remains so with formal backing.
Before meritocrats panic, Kevin Lynch -- who joined Adobe as part of the Macromedia acquisition -- quickly explains that Adobe's decision to release the full PDF specification for ISO standardization reinforces their commitment to openness.
"As governments and organizations increasingly request open formats, maintenance of the PDF specification by an external and participatory organization will help continue to drive innovation and expand the rich PDF ecosystem that has evolved over the past 15 years," explains Lynch.
When Adobe published the PDF specification in 1993, it raised the bar for security and dependability among enterprises an in e-records keeping in general. PDF enabled the government, business and individual users to share the same quality standards for managing, conveying and preserving sensitive documents.
After 1995, Adobe began working with various groups to develop a tiered set of technical specifications for the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), working with them to deliver specialized sets of PDF as yardsticks for different purposes and multiple industries. For example, PDF for Archive (PDF/A) and PDF for Exchange (PDF/X) are standards sanctioned by the ISO. PDF for Engineering (PDF/E) and PDF for Universal Access (PDF/UA) are standards currently in the running. AIIM, which serves as administrator to PDF/A, PDF/E and PDF/UA, is now reviewing PDF for Healthcare (PDF/H) for its Best Practice Guide. AIIM holds secretariat status for the ISO Tech Committee, 171 SC2 for Document Management Applications, and is the administrator for the U.S. Technical Advisory Group to ISO TC 171, which represents the U.S. at international meetings. These positions make AIIM a critical player for Adobe's foray into complete standardization.
It is worth noting that Adobe did not become the de facto choice of document security by its merits alone. Of recent note, the firm joined forces with DocsCorp to increase PDF's mobility. The company certainly doesn't hesitate to look outward when it comes to improving the marketplace for PDF solutions. Collaborating with AIIM Adobe plans to release the complete PDF 1.7 specification (per the PDF Reference Manual) for AIIM's review, preceding submission to the ISO. AIIM will identify problems that need addressing and create a draft for ISO's Joint Working Group to develop and potentially approve as an International Standard.
AIIM President John Mancini says AIIM was pleased to receive the proposal from Adobe, considering they've served as administrators for its series of specialized ISO standard subsets for a number of years. "Over the last several years we have seen and in many cases helped facilitate a range of ongoing market and customer focused efforts around PDF," he says. "These efforts have grown so broadly that it now makes sense for Adobe to let the full specification serve as a unifying umbrella and submit it for approval under the formal ISO standards process." Those are tall words coming from the organization that acts as an international authority on Enterprise Content and Document Management.
Sounds like it will be a smooth and promising transition. Considering ISO has worked with Adobe for over a decade to create a multiplicity of PDF subsets to serve as industry standards, it’s a wonder this formalization of the broader specification did not occur earlier.