McCoy on the future of PDF

Bill McCoy’s article, “Takeaways on the Future of Documents: Report from the 2015 PDF Technical Conference,” offers some interesting thoughts on the future of PDF. I can’t find much to disagree with. PDF is in practice a format for reproducing a specific document appearance, and that’s becoming less important as the variety of computing devices increases. He makes a point I hadn’t thought of, that the “de facto interoperable PDF format” is well behind the latest specifications, which may explain why I haven’t seen complaints that JHOVE doesn’t know about ISO 32000 PDF!

He mentions that “the upcoming version 2 ISO Standard has truly been collaboratively developed – the specifications are no longer a rubber-stamp of Adobe’s latest Acrobat features (as was the case with the original ISO 32000 eight years ago).” This isn’t necessarily a pure advantage, though. It costs money to get ISO 32000, but it’s identical with PDF 1.7, so you can get the spec for free. The next ISO specification might be harder to get hold of without paying money, making it a less “open” standard in ISO’s hands than it was in Adobe’s “proprietary” hands.

PDF, has he said, will be with us “for a long, long time to come,” so it’s still safe as a preservation format, preferably within the constraints of PDF/A-1 or A-2.

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