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PDF Format Becomes an International Standard

New York, Jul 02, 2008

The Portable Document Format (PDF), one of the most widely-used electronic document formats in the world, is now available as a standard through the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

ISO 32000-1, Document management -- Portable document format -- Part 1: PDF 1.7 supplies the essential information needed by developers of software that create PDF files, software that reads existing PDF files and interprets their contents for display and interaction, and products that read and/or write PDF files for a variety of other purposes.

PDF documents are used for a wide variety of personal and professional applications, including:

  • preservation of document fidelity independent of device or platform

  • merging of content from diverse sources

  • collaborative editing of documents using multiple platforms

  • digital signatures for authenticity

  • security and permissions to preserve control over content

  • accessibility of content to those with disabilities

  • extraction and reuse of content for use with other file formats

  • gathering data and integrating it with business systems using PDF forms

The new International Standard was created as a result of a decision by Adobe Systems Incorporated, original developer and copyright owner of the format, to relinquish control of publishing current and future specifications to ISO.

"By releasing the full PDF specification for ISO standardization, we are reinforcing our commitment to openness," said Kevin Lynch, chief technology officer at Adobe. "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."

ISO 32000-1 was developed by Technical Committee (TC) 171, Document management applications, Subcommittee (SC) 2, Application issues. TC 171/SC 2 will also develop subsequent parts of the standard, including future versions of the document format.

The United States holds both the chairmanship and the secretariat of TC 171/SC 2. Mr. Robert Breslawski of the Eastman Kodak Company – a company member of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) – chairs the subcommittee. The Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) – an ANSI member and accredited standards developer – serves as secretary. AIIM is also the administrator of the ANSI-accredited U.S. Technical Advisory Group to ISO TC 171/SC 2.

"As an ISO standard, we can ensure that this useful and widely popular format is easily available to all interested stakeholders," said Alan Bryden, ISO Secretary-General. "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."

For more information, view the ISO news release.

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