There are not only different levels or versions of PDF, but there are also standards of PDF which are required for different consumers of the document. Each have their own specific requirements and each present their own challenges. I'm going to have a look at some of the requirements of PDF here and how using Arbortext products allow you to meet them.
Lets start by looking at why you want to create a PDF in the first place.
Some people are happy with just a plain old vanilla PDF. All they want is something that looks like a printed page so they can read it on their computer, stick it on a website or make paper copies. They're not too bothered about colour reproduction, download speeds, storage or accessibility. As long as it doesn't look rubbish, they're happy. That is fine. Nothing wrong with it at all. PDF is more than happy to give you this.
These are some of the reasons why there are different standards of PDF and why we're working hard to allow you to create them. This is also why PDF has a collection of features which allow you to create output which suits your consumers' needs. Features such as:
As PDF has evolved, different versions of PDF have been released, each typically tied to a version of Adobe Acrobat. The versions start at PDF 1.0 and progress through PDF 1.7. Different features are added as you progress through the versions so you need to be sure that you're outputting to the right version to include the feature you need. For example, you can't embed XMP metadata before version 1.4 and 3D graphics aren't supported before version 1.6.
To help people work with with these features and to ensure customer and supplier are talking the same language, a number of PDF standards are available. The two main ones are PDF/X and PDF/A, both ISO standards. There are other standards, but these are the two key ones to be aware of:
Each of these standards use (or actively disallow) different PDF features to ensure they work well in their intended use. It is always worth talking with those who will receive your PDFs to establish whether they'd like to receive it in one of these standards.
So what are we, PTC, doing about it?
APP Version 11 (which arrived in June) provided a significant upgrade to its PDF output capabilities and included:
The majority of these will be applied by default to PDF output from APP, including from Styler. The M010 release of APP's Version 11 (currently scheduled for December 2011) will also provide support for colour profiles which will then allow us, in the same release, to allow users to select the PDF/X or PDF/A standard they wish to output to. Once the APP functionality is in place, we will work on exposing it through Styler and PE.
Long-term, the APP engine will provide us with a great platform to extend our PDF support to include multimedia, 3D objects, interactivity, layers and so on. I would be very interested to hear your opinions on these features.
I hope the information here whets your appetite to learn more about PDF and encourages you to explore how you can produce better output using Arbortext tools. If you have any questions or have other PDF requirements, please feel free to get in touch.
Obviously, any forwards looking information here may change without notice.
Great information, Simon and just in right time. I was recently looking for the short and simple overview of different PDF standards.
And what's about embedding 3D in PDF published with Publishing Engine? Can you share any information on the functionality? Is it planned for the upcoming releases?
3D publishing in PDF is on the plan. Our PDF library can accept U3D objects so we will build on that. The objective is to provide a similar experience to HTML.