After 30: PDF’s bright futureIn 2023, the volunteers and staff of the PDF Association were busier than ever, with new working groups, resources, and projects to meet the requests of PDF stakeholders worldwide.
Now 30, PDF continues growing in its role as the world’s chosen digital document format complementing the HTML/CSS technology that underpins the internet.
Likewise, the PDF Association continues growing as the home of PDF’s technical community serving PDF’s stakeholders worldwide.
Looking back on 2023
Over the past year, the PDF Association was busier than ever, with new technical working groups, resources, and projects to meet the requests of developers and other stakeholders seeking to understand and leverage standardized PDF technology.
In 2023 we focussed on resources, services, and standards development. Notable projects in the past year include the following:
ISO 32000-2 at no cost!
A key accomplishment was making ISO 32000-2 (PDF 2.0) available at no cost, along with several ISO-standardized extensions and errata corrections. This initiative is only the beginning; exciting developments are in store for PDF's specification in the year ahead.
Thanks, first and foremost, go to the project’s sponsors, Adobe, Apryse, and Foxit, for making this possible.
Advancing PDF’s Imaging Model
The public pdf-issues GitHub repo continues to collect errata reports on ISO 32000-2 (363 reported to-date, with 288 closed since the repo’s launch at the start of 2021). Issues related to PDF/A-4 and PDF/X-6 are now passed to respective ISO WGs for consideration in the upcoming dated revisions of those important standards.
As this repo is available to the public, and not only PDF Association members, we thank everyone in the broader PDF community for their interest in making PDF more understandable!
Extending PDF 2.0 with modern cryptography
Through the PDF Association-managed auspices of ISO TC 171 SC 2, we published ISO-standardized Extensions to PDF supporting modern cryptography (ISO/TS 32001, ISO/TS 32002 and ISO/TS 32003). They are available from the PDF Association at no cost under the terms of our agreement with ISO regarding ISO 32000-2.
STEP in PDF
We assisted in publishing ISO/TS 24064, an ISO Technical Specification extending PDF to include STEP data in Rich Media annotations.
Rules for nesting standard structure types
ISO published ISO/TS 32005 to support use of PDF 1.7 structure elements in a PDF 2.0 context; we made an informative matrix of the inclusion rules available at no cost.
PDF Cheat Sheets
Peter Wyatt, the PDF Association’s CTO, introduced the first PDF Cheat Sheets as quick reference and educational tools for developers. Updates and new cheat sheets are on the way!
PDF Differences (between implementations!)
We introduced PDF Differences, a GitHub repository of text cases highlighting differences between implementations, with a pre-release preview repo available to PDF Association members.
Techniques for Accessible PDF
We unveiled an example of our forthcoming Techniques for Accessible PDF, with much more to come in 2024!
PDF at 30
In May, 2023, at PDF Week, the first of our new series of technical conferences, we celebrated PDF’s 30th birthday. At PDF Week the PDF Association announced the start of work on a documentary film to chronicle the development of PDF technology.
We’ll complete this project in early 2024.
Our VSCode extension supporting PDF syntax
We recently released another of Peter’s initiatives, a VSCode extension providing developers with support for PDF Syntax. This tool is for developers interested in learning PDF as a page description language and for building text-based test files.
Development of this extension is another result of the PDF Association’s involvement in DARPA’s SafeDocs program.
Our work for DARPA
The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recognized the PDF Association for its contributions to the SafeDocs research program.
A really massive PDF corpus
We highlighted one of NASA’s contributions to DARPA’s SafeDocs program: a new large-scale corpus of PDF files to help developers understand variations in real-world PDFs. To our knowledge this is the single largest publicly available such corpus.
Changes at the Board of Directors
At the all-member meeting for 2023, the members elected Roman Toda (Foxit) to the Board of Directors. Roman Lasskiy (Nitro) joined the Board as a Candidate member, status to be ratified at the next all-member meeting in 2024.
Our Technical Working Groups (TWG), Liaison Working Groups (LWG), and Marketing Working Group (MWG) were very active this year!
Advancing the PDF Imaging Model
As the year closes we have settled on a strategy for 2024:
- The new Imaging Model Technical Working Group (TWG) will focus on defining the integration of HDR technology, new image formats and advanced color-management into PDF technology.
- The PDF TWG is exploring streaming capabilities and advancing compression in PDF.
- The Rich Media TWG will focus on animation and other rich media capabilities for PDF.
Other PDF community initiatives
- The PDF Reuse TWG and PDF/UA TWG completed their collaboration on developing normative requirements for reuse of tagged PDF, soon to be published by the PDF Association and ISO.
- The Aligning PDF/A and PDF/X Liaison Working Group (LWG) was established to coordinate a dated revision to both of these ISO standards.
- The PDF/UA Processor LWG made significant progress on mapping tags in PDF to their HTML counterparts and/or ARIA roles. They have begun investigating a PDF-AAM (Accessibility API Mapping) to help developers better reference in PDF. A sample of their mapping was included in the post, Bridging PDF and Web Accessibility.
- The PDF Accessibility LWG completed work on its initial set of fundamental Techniques for accessible PDF, and posted an example. These Techniques will be published in January or February of 2024, with many specific “use case” techniques to follow.
- We added the DocRM Liaison Working Group (LWG) to assist members interested in developing a document reference model covering semantic and structural elements in documents.
- We added the PDF Technology Marketing Working Group (MWG) to address subjects of concern and interest to PDF industry marketers. Among this group’s inspirations are the “PDF in the Wild” series and Thomas Zellmann’s article explaining why PDF 2.0 is the PDF bible.
- The Print Product Metadata LWG (PPM) continued its work on Application Notes which should be published in early 2024.
PDF Week events in 2024
In the new year we will continue to focus on meeting the needs of PDF’s technical community as a standards development organization. The PDF Association will hold three “PDF Week” events in which we integrate in-person Technical and Liaison Working Groups meetings with meetings of ISO TC 171 SC 2.
- PDF Week Online 2024 begins in early February
- PDF Week Tokyo 2024 is scheduled for May
- PDF Week Prague 2024 is slated for November.
As PDF technology moves into its 4th (!) decade it continues to evolve to meet changing needs in a wide and varied marketplace. From new specifications and standards for reusing PDF to advancing PDF’s imaging model, new developments in PDF’s specification, and more, the home of PDF’s technical community will be busier than ever.
Happy Holidays from the PDF Association!