The Gilbane Advisor

Curated content for content, computing, and digital experience professionsals

Tag: PDF (page 2 of 2)

Adobe to Release PDF for Industry Standardization

Adobe Systems Incorporated (Nasdaq:ADBE) announced that it intends to release the full Portable Document Format (PDF) 1.7 specification to AIIM, the Enterprise Content Management Association, for the purpose of publication by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). PDF has become a de facto global standard since Adobe published the complete PDF specification in 1993. Since 1995 Adobe has participated in various working groups that develop technical specifications for publication by ISO and worked within the ISO process to deliver specialized subsets of PDF as standards for specific industries and functions. Today, PDF for Archive (PDF/A) and PDF for Exchange (PDF/X) are ISO standards, and PDF for Engineering (PDF/E) and PDF for Universal Access (PDF/UA) are proposed standards. Additionally, PDF for Healthcare (PDF/H) is an AIIM proposed Best Practice Guide. AIIM serves as the administrator for PDF/A, PDF/E, PDF/UA and PDF/H. Adobe will release the full PDF 1.7 specification as defined in the PDF Reference Manual to AIIM for the purpose of submission to ISO. The joint committee formed under AIIM will identify issues to be addressed, as well as proposed solutions, and will develop a draft document that will then be presented to a Joint Working Group of ISO for development and approval as an International Standard. AIIM holds the secretariat for the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Committee (TC) 171 and 171 SC2 for Document Management Applications, and is the administrator for the U.S. Technical Advisory Group to ISO TC 171 that represents the U.S. at international meetings. www.adobe.com/devnet/pdf/pdf_reference.html

Adobe & Microsoft headed for battle over PDF

The Wall Street Journal reported today that talks between Adobe and Microsoft over the inclusion of PDF creation in the upcoming release of Office have broken down, and they speculate that Adobe will file an antitrust suit as a result. The issue is that MS was planning to include PDF creation for free, which is obviously a direct hit at Adobe’s Acrobat revenue. If you have been following Microsoft’s XPS (XML Paper Specification) development as we reported here, you won’t be too surprised.

It is too early to know exactly how this will play out, but anyone with applications or workflows that depend on heavy use of both Office and PDF needs to keep this on their radar!

UPDATE: Mary Jo Foley has more info on this.

More on Microsoft

One of the publications I find very useful and always relevant is Knowledge@Wharton, produced by the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Check out this timely article, Microsoft’s Multiple Challenges: Is its Size a Benefit or a Burden?

Excerpt: “Microsoft announces that it will spend about $2 billion to fend off rivals such as Google and thwart Sony’s video game ambitions, and the company loses more than $30 billion in market capitalization in a day. Fair trade or overreaction?” My favorite quote? Wharton finance professor Andrew Metrick’s comment that “$2 billion to Microsoft is like a pimple on an elephant.”

Certainly true, but the investment demonstrates the range of rivals Microsoft faces in retaining its “titan” status for the long-term.

Microsoft’s XPS to compete with Adobe’s PDF

As this news item reminded us today, vendors are gearing up for the launch of Vista and Office 12. We are already seeing vendors announcing support for both in various ways, but this will continue to build to a deluge of announcements over the next 6 months. XPS (XML Paper Specification) is one of the new pieces of Vista and Office 12 that bears paying attention to. While it is not likely to displace Adobe’s PDF (certainly not in the near term at least), it will certainly be used instead of PDF for certain applications. What those applications will be is something worth thinking about. There is more info on XPS from Microsoft here, including links to the specification, developer blogs etc.

Adobe & Macromedia

How did we become sheep? In fact eunuched sheep? Why is anyone pretending that the acquisition of Macromedia by Adobe has anything to do with the customers of either company? This is a deal only for the management and shareholders of Adobe and Macromedia. Anyone who pretends otherwise is a fool. Graphic designers and webmasters should be greeting this with the same enthusiasm that Buckingham Palace received the news of Prince Charles and Camilla.

Adobe is famous for making acquisitions that could be funded from the expense accounts of its senior executives. Most amount to spare change (and have a similar impact on Adobe’s corporate fortunes). Adobe’s last big purchases were Aldus and FrameMaker, both in the mid-90s. As far as I can tell PageMaker is the only extant product remaining from Adobe’s purchase of Aldus, and it’s on life support. A year ago Adobe made it clear to PageMaker users to upgrade to InDesign pronto, or face product upgrade and customer support hell. Adobe continues to pretend that FrameMaker is a going concern, but it’s an ill-kept secret in the industry that the next version of InDesign will be announced at FrameMaker’s graveside.

What’s the win for either company’s customers? Better products? Better customer service? More innovation? Give me a break! These are two great companies, leaders in their field both in terms of innovation and customer service. But they are competitors. And in the dog-eat-dog world that we call “capitalism,” the larger dog eats the Chihuahua for lunch, and we all call it “synergy.”

In today’s CNET we were offered the kind of analyst’s quote that passes for informed critique:

“Consolidation in the industry is not always the best thing,” said Bruce Heavin, co-founder of Lynda.com. “I’ve always seen Macromedia and Adobe get better when they were on each other’s heels. When Adobe had LiveMotion, I saw better things coming out of Flash. And GoLive has helped Dreamweaver progress.”

That said, Heavin said the acquisition could improve compatibility between products.
“I think it will make it easy for these programs to talk to each other,” Heavin said. “It could wind up making it easier for the customers and the users… In the end I think this will be somewhat (emphasis mine) of a good thing.”

I’d never heard of lynda.com before today. An authoritative expert, no doubt — the site helps “media designers & communicators understand how to use professional tools and design to enhance visual communication through web, print, and motion graphics.”
My first reaction to today’s news was “where are they going to dump FreeHand?” You may recall that Adobe ended up with FreeHand once before, after acquiring Aldus in 1994. Legal action by Altsys, FreeHand’s developer, and some semblance of a Federal anti-trust department, forced Adobe to return all rights for FreeHand to Altsys. And then Altsys promptly sold itself to Macromedia.

Those of us more than 11-years-old recall that Altsys’ big product was not FreeHand but Fontographer (FreeHand may have generated more cash, but Fontographer was the product that put Altsys on the map). Fontographer was the first, and, as far as I know, remains the best product for creating digital fonts (OpenType fonts excepted). I’d long ago forgotten about it, but see tonight that it remains available, buried on Macromedia’s site. So Adobe got that in the bargain (let this serve as a reminder to Adobe management — they probably didn’t notice along the way!).

The official FAQ of the announcement is a model of corporate bafflegab:

“Why are the companies joining now?”

“Both companies are experiencing great success and momentum and have great opportunities ahead of them, and believe that together, they will be better able to achieve their combined vision with greater synergy. We also believe the joining of two healthy companies will lead to a more successful combined company.”

Wow! That certainly makes sense to me!

Analysts who are trying to be provocative are positioning the takeover as a stab against Microsoft. According to Monday’s Wall Street Journal:

“Microsoft already regards PDF’s success as a long-term threat. The next version of Windows, code-named Longhorn and due out next year, is expected to include features to move documents around companies and the Internet, and aimed at eliminating the need for PDF.

‘There’s a huge battle brewing’ between Adobe and Microsoft, said Andy Warzecha, senior vice president of Meta Group, a unit of technology-research firm Gartner Inc., in Stamford, Conn.'”

Zowie! That faux-battle is a subject for a separate critique. But tell me how does the acquisition of Macromedia make the least bit of difference in this “battle”? Adding Flash to PDF makes no sense whatsoever (though no doubt, some engineers will find the bandaids to do so). SVG was Adobe’s “Flash-killer.” It seemed like a joke at first, but has gained W3C endorsement (including endorsement from Macromedia). It’s a more complex format than Flash, and far less ubiquitous, but offers significant features that Flash doesn’t even reach for. On top of that, SVG is a direct descendent of PDF, and shares much of the code base. Flash is the bastard cousin of PDF.

As I think about the acquisition tonight, only two things are clear to me. First, Adobe needed to do something that would make headlines to justify its recently inflated share price and reputation. With its share prices suddenly inflated into the stratosphere Adobe could afford to make an all-stock deal for Macromedia (Macromedia shareholders take note: sell ASAP). Second, there’s no better time to make an obviously anti-competitive acquisition than during the reign of George Bush II.

Appligent Releases APConductor; Web Services for PDF Document Workflows

Appligent Inc. introduced APConductor, which enables all of its other applications to be plugged into a complex workflow via a SOAP messaging framework. APConductor is the first member of Appligent’s Web Services Product Family, a server-based backbone that creates integration for customizing PDF documents. APConductor acts as a central dispatcher, directing requests from other applications to Appligent’s families of PDF processing components and returning the finished results. It also enables developers and integrators to quickly assemble PDF solutions by using a Web Services interface to communicate with Appligent’s component plug-ins, which allow companies to build a full suite of in-house solutions for document processing. APConductor can be used in both .NET and Java 2 Enterprise Edition environments. Appligent’s APConductor is now available. www.appligent.com

Xenos announces XML2PDF Merge

Xenos announced that it has developed XML2PDF Merge. It provides automated online merging of XML formatted data into PDF documents for Internet distribution, viewing and printing. Insurance and financial services companies require fast, simple, on-line solutions for their agents and customers to access and complete forms in real-time for policy and account applications, quotes, requests for information or trade confirmations. Xenos XML2PDF Merge provides an answer to these requirements. XML2PDF Merge implements ACORD forms standards. In a typical insurance application process, a customer meets with an insurance agent to purchase a new policy. The agent, connected to the insurance company’s network, fills out an application for the customer by entering all the required data on a Web form. This data is captured in XML format by the insurance company, processed and approved. Xenos XML2PDF Merge software fills in the fields on the PDF form with the appropriate XML data. The PDF document is then immediately returned to the agent over the Internet. www.xenos.com

Adobe releases Acrobat 4.0

Adobe Systems Inc. announced the latest version of Acrobat. Acrobat 4.0 adds a new set of annotation and security tools for transforming and conveying documents written in different formats. The new Adobe PDFMaker utility also lets users convert Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files from within those applications. Acrobat 4.0 captures Web pages or entire Web sites and turns them into fully formatted PDF files. The application also can secure files through a certificate system that validates users’ identities. 4.0 will ship in the second half of the year, at $249. Users can upgrade from earlier versions for $99. www.adobe.com

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