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Files inside PDF

May 2024 by Peter Wyatt (PDF Association)

This article aims to explain the different ways by which PDF stores “files”.

What is meant by a “file” with PDF depends on your viewpoint, and may include notions and expectations derived from how HTML and other formats may do things, some of which differ from the metaphors used by PDF software.

Diverse interfaces foster various end-user understandings of what “files” exist inside any given PDF. This is especially true when we consider the many similar terms in use. Understandings differ or are ambiguous depending on the users’ background, and the terms themselves may have different technical meanings.

Accordingly, end users are sometimes perplexed as to why they cannot simply “download” the JPEG file of a photo in a PDF, or extract a font from PDF viewing software, yet they might be able to extract the embedded spreadsheet they’d attached.

If your role relates to digital preservation or file forensics then accurately understanding the kinds of data that can be in a PDF and how it is stored can be very important.

Integrity protection for encrypted documents: ISO TS 32004 is the latest Extension to PDF 2.0

May 2024 by PDF Association staff (PDF Association)
Announcement, PDF Association news


The latest ISO Extension to PDF 2.0 offers backwards-compatible integrity protection via Message Authentication Code (MAC).

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April 2024 by PDF Association staff (PDF Association)
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A new ISO extension to PDF 2.0 adds PDF support for the Khronos Group’s glTF 3D format.

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March 2024 by PDF Association staff (PDF Association)
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Based on WTPDF, ISO 14289-2 serves to assure institutions that the PDF Association’s requirements for creating and validating accessible PDF … Read more

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December 2023 by PDF Association staff (PDF Association)
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PDF Week Online 2024 consists of 16 PDF Association Working Group meetings and 2 ISO working group meetings.

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November 2023 by PDF Association staff (PDF Association)
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The new VSCode extension by the PDF Association provides PDF syntax awareness to this popular editor, and is designed to … Read more

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September 2023 by Peter Wyatt (PDF Association)
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PDF developers everywhere have a new resource; targeted test cases highlighting differences between implementations.

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June 2023 by PDF Association staff (PDF Association)
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The PDF Association is pleased to announce no-cost availability of ISO/TS 32003, adding support for AES-GCM to PDF 2.0.

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June 2023 by PDF Association staff (PDF Association)
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To celebrate the 30th anniversary of PDF technology the PDF Association has released a trailer for its forthcoming documentary.

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April 2023 by PDF Association staff (PDF Association)
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Now anyone can download the latest PDF specification, ISO 32000-2, at NO COST! What are you waiting for?

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September 2022 by PDF Association staff (PDF Association)
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The PDF Association publishes new guidance to aide in optimizing PDF files for maximally-efficient rendering and print.

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May 2022 by PDF Association
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33 educational sessions plus 2 keynotes in 2 days of networking opportunities at PDF Days Europe 2022, live in Berlin … Read more

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