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PDF Now ISO Standard

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has approved the PDF as a standard format for electronic documents. ISO has christened version 1.7 of PDF, the current working version, ISO 32000-1.

"As an ISO standard, we can ensure that this useful and widely popular format is easily available to all interested stakeholders," said ISO Secretary-General Alan Bryden in a statement. "The standard will benefit both software developers and users by encouraging the propagation and dissemination of a common technology that cuts across systems and is designed for long-term survival.”

Developed by Adobe Systems, PDF is a digital document format designed to preserve the layout and appearance of an electronic document -- or the scanned version of a paper document -- on different platforms. Adobe submitted the format to ISO for standardization in February 2007.

With Adobe relinquishing control of PDF, the ISO Document Management Applications Technical Committee will review any changes made to the format. The openly published standard provides the technical information required for writing software programs that can create and read PDF files, ensuring that organizations will always have some tools available to render PDFs, even if Adobe stops shipping its PDF viewer.

This is not the first version of PDF to be under ISO's care. The organization also oversees PDF/X, a subset for the printing industry, and PDF/A, for long-term archiving of documents.

In related news, Adobe has released the latest version of its free PDF viewer, Adobe Reader. The new version is the first to support PDFs with embedded interactive Flash animations, a feature made available with the recently released version 9 of Adobe's Acrobat PDF creator. The new reader also allows multiple users to annotate and update documents through the company's online collaboration service, Acrobat.com.

"PDF documents are well beyond simple visual representation of paper on a screen," said Bobby Caudill, group manager of global government solutions at Adobe.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the chief technology editor of Government Computing News (GCN.com).

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