I’m becoming concerned whether Adobe is really serious about Mars. My evidence:
1. The FAQ has not be updated since 27 Oct 2006.
2. At the end of the FAQ it reads:
Q: When will the Mars format be frozen for 1.0?
A: A date for this has not yet been set.
Q: When will the Mars plug-in be available?
A: It is planned to be available before the end of the year.
This all seems very tentative.
As Joe Wilcox observes here:
“Adobe’s competitive response to XPS makes sense. PDF’s heritage predates the populist Web, and Adobe created the format for the purpose of mimicking paper documents. In the 21st century, however, digital documents are often containers that likely will never be printed. Paper’s relevance — and so the need to mimic — has greatly diminished.”
All of this is, on the surface, true (except perhaps the “makes sense” part). Does tossing high-fidelity page-oriented PDF into an XML container really address this issue?
I think even more significant is Adobe’s clearly stated, and obviously honestly intended, design to make PDF an ISO standard. My cynical blog entry is here: . But, as Adobe and others point out, subsets of PDF, very useful subsets I’d say, are already ISO standards, including “Several trade-specific subsets of the PDF spec are either ISO approved or in the approval process, including PDF/X for printers, PDF/E for engineers, PDF/A for archivists and PDF/UA for making documents compliant with Section 508 regulations.” (http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,2088277,00.asp).
These aspects of PDF, including, of course, the entire spec, only serve to “encrypt” as standards that which makes PDF uniquely the “Portable Document Format.” PDF as an XPS competitor is not uniquely PDF, in the historic sense of the format, and with the entire PDF spec submitted to ISO, Mars needs to succeed within this process. Do we really think it can?
I think that Adobe is far more interested in Apollo (http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/apollo/). Although this is a very different beast than Mars, I believe Adobe knows that its future lies much moreso with this kind of technology than it does on the not-very-hospitable planet Mars.