[pdftex] Adobe Battles Backward-Compatibility Woes

gnwiii at gmail.com gnwiii at gmail.com
Sun Apr 30 22:42:34 CEST 2006

On 4/30/06, Hilmar Preusse <hille42 at web.de> wrote:
> On 11.04.06 Joachim Trinkwitz (jtr at uni-bonn.de) wrote:
> > > I prefer open standards, but i cannot agree with making Adobe's
> > > PDF specification people's property.
> > > Making private property people's property is communism.
> > >
> > Then I think it's great to have so many communists around in big
> > companies and institutions, like IBM or CERN, who make their own
> > private properties people's properties - where would we stand when
> > CERN (which paid Tim Berners-Lee) would have asked to pay duties to
> > everyone who surfs the web???
> >
> Isn't the CERN an institution paid by the public e.g. the European
> community. I.e. it is paid by people from the taxes. From these kind
> of institutions I expect a little bit more to get back than from a
> private company.
> But, this is definitely off topic here.

As long as Adobe doesn't change the specification in a way that makes
existing documents stop working, there is nothing to prevent the
"people" from continuing to use the current PDF format.   The fact
that large companies and governments have chosen PDF as their
"archival" format means PDF created 5 years ago will have to remain
accessible long after Adobe is gone.  Adobe seems to be headed for
trouble.  Apple is fast becoming more infuential for real-world PDF
than Adobe, who have added so many features to their core apps
(Photoshop, Illustrator) that even professionals are turning to
simpler open source (gimp, cinepaint, inkscape) and Apple programs.

The TeX community has already done things that push the envelope of
Adobe's world (substitution of PDF for EPS when including figures).

The problem that I see is that Adobe may add things to the PDF
specification to the point that it becomes useless because someone
reading it for the first time won't know which parts need to be
implemented and which parts were written by Adobe's marketing people
trying to save the sinking ship. Meanwhile, Apple, cairo
<http://www.cairographics.org/>, pdftex, and others have implicitly
defined a practical subset of Adobe's PDF specification.   Imagine, in
2020 some junior programmer, perhaps the granddaughter of someone on
this list, will be handed a copy of the pdftex sources and told to
implement a viewer for .pdf documents created in 2002.

George N. White III <aa056 at chebucto.ns.ca>
Head of St. Margarets Bay, Nova Scotia

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