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Reporting issues in the PDF 2.0 specification

To support industry uptake of PDF 2.0, the specification’s ISO Project Leaders, working through the PDF Association, have established a public GitHub repository to facilitate the reporting of issues against ISO 32000-2:2020.
About the author: As CEO of the PDF Association and as an ISO Project Leader, Duff coordinates industry activities, represents industry stakeholders in a variety of settings and promotes the advancement and adoption of … Read more

As we recently announced, the latest edition of PDF 2.0 (ISO 32000-2:2020) was published by ISO in December, 2020. The latest edition of PDF 2.0 replaces the 2017 edition and includes a number of minor features and critical updates to normative references in addition to other corrections and clarifications.

Like any 1000-page technical document there are bound to be typos, mistakes, omissions, and ambiguities.  Although many subject matter experts reviewed this document during its 3 years of development, fresh eyes and active implementation may well identify new issues. To support industry adoption of PDF 2.0, the PDF ISO 32000 Project Leaders (Duff Johnson and Peter Wyatt), working through the PDF Association, have established a public “pdf-issues” GitHub repository for reporting any and all issues against ISO 32000-2:2020.

An accurate and clearly understandable PDF specification helps the entire PDF ecosystem and enhances interoperability. Consequently, every detail in the PDF specification matters; from spelling and grammar, to minor typos and formatting issues through to more significant ambiguous, vague or apparently contradictory statements:

  • What might seem like a minor formatting mistake can actually communicate important information such as whether the text represents a key, a key value or a reserved PDF keyword;
  • Improved cross-referencing to other clauses, tables, figures or external references can highlight otherwise obscure but important requirements, and assist users in locating all relevant information;
  • Descriptions of data may miss critical information such as the range of valid values;
  • A choice of word may imply nuances that would be better stated explicitly, especially for non-native English speakers.

GitHub markThe issues that will be tracked by this GitHub repo address only ISO 32000-2:2020 - the latest PDF 2.0 file format specification document. It is entirely vendor- and implementation-agnostic and doesn’t address software bugs whatsoever. The starting point for any new issue should be the text from the 2020 edition of the PDF 2.0 specification; older versions of PDF are not in scope.

A new GitHub Issue can be created by anyone with a free GitHub login. Once reported, it can be openly commented on and critiqued by everyone using the GitHub collaboration platform. Once general agreement is reached, each issue will be moderated by the ISO 32000 Project Leaders and presented at the next occurring PDF Association PDF Technical Working Group (TWG) meeting. This forum, composed of recognized industry and ISO experts, will then formalize an industry consensus for publication via a new PDF Association resource. If you are not yet a member of the PDF Association and would like to join this forum, please learn more about membership.

This process provides PDF developers everywhere with ongoing and timely guidance on all previously resolved issues identified in ISO 32000-2:2020, as well as visibility into the list of currently unresolved issues, ensuring maximum transparency and interoperability of PDF technology.

It should be noted that resolutions resulting from this process are not authorized by the ISO working group responsible for PDF (ISO TC 171 SC 2 WG 8) and may be changed in future ISO 32000 publications. As the next ISO 32000 publication is currently undecided, this process will actively help everyone using PDF 2.0 technology by providing timely industry-supported resolutions in the interim. The PDF Association holds the committee management role of ISO TC 171 SC 2, so everyone can be assured that all industry-supported resolutions will flow into the respective ISO working group process at the first opportunity.

We look forward to collaboratively improving ISO 32000-2:2020 with the entire PDF community. A number of Issues are already logged; please join the discussion today!

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