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ISO certifies Adobe's PDF

Standard delivers, albeit at leisurely pace

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The International Standardisation Organisation has ratified Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF) as an official international standard, though it won't make PDF documents load any faster.

Adobe handed PDF to the Association for Information and Image Management about 18 months ago, which started the standardisation process. The company is hoping that being an ISO standard will encourage more governmental, and large-corporate, use of PDF documents.

PDF was, at one point, promoted as a superior alternative to HTML for laying out pages, encapsulated by the acronym WYSIWOG - what you see is what others get. But punters balked at the idea of paying $50 for the reader, killing any aspirations in that space.

At the time it seemed that with a free reader PDF would completely dominate document distribution, and back than the web consisted of documents rather than today's interactive hyperlink-soup. As an ISO-approved standard PDF could yet become the only way to represent documents - it's possible to imagine HTML being reduced to providing the text layout for web-based applications.

The new standard is version 1.7 of the PDF spec, henceforth to be known as "ISO 32000-1:2008", and is available (as a PDF) for only 370 Swiss Francs. ®

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