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After 30: PDF’s bright future 

In 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.
About the author: The PDF Association staff delivers a vendor-neutral platform for PDF’s stakeholders, facilitating the development of open specifications and ISO standards for PDF technology. The staff are located in Germany, the … Read more
PDF Association staff

PDF Association staff
December 21, 2023


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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!

ISO 32000 sponsored by Adobe, Apryse and Foxit.

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 second PDF Week in San Francisco included an open Symposium to discuss the future of PDF’s Imaging Model. This work is now proceeding in three technical working groups.

Simulated HDR and SDR images of Chartres Cathedral.
Featured image credit: Michelle

PDF errata

Screen-shot of correction to issue 81.

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

PDF 2.0 security shield with crypto terms surrounding it

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.


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

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!

Figurative example of correct and incorrect use of the ActualText property.

PDF at 30

Beyond Camelot: The Story of PDF

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

PDF Association VSCode extension logo.

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

DARPA SafeDocs logo

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.

Technical communities

Communities menu on pdfa.orgOur 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: 

Other PDF community initiatives

PDF Week events in 2024

PDF Week Online logoIn 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.


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!

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