by lrosenth


October 2, 2007

I have written around this subject before but I have never given it a complete run through. I am going to do that now. On January 29, 2007 Adobe Systems announced that it would work with AIIM and ISO’s Technical Committee (TC) 171 to make PDF 1.7 an ISO standard.

Following this announcement, on July 2, 2007, the PDF 1.7 Reference, converted to follow ISO template and styling rules, was sent out as a Draft International Standard (DIS) ballot to country standard’s organizations that are members of ISO/TC 171 using the ISO “Fast Track” procedure. This process is managed by AIIM on behalf of ISO.

The ballot closes on December 2, 2007. Following ISO rules, if the ballot passes and all comments can be resolved, then the DIS will become an ISO Standard: “ISO 32000 — Document management — Portable document format — PDF 1.7”. If the ballot passes but one or more ballots contain unresolved comments then, after addressing the comments, a second Final Draft International Standard (FDIS) ballot that lasts 2 months will be conducted. If that passes (no comments allowed) then it will become an ISO Standard.

Since after a standard has been approved it takes ISO several months to officially publish it, we can expect the ISO 32000 PDF 1.7 standard document to be published by ISO sometime in 2008.

Additional Notes:

  • There are currently 14 countries that are voting P-members of ISO TC 171.
  • Adobe converted the PDF 1.7 Reference into an ISO Draft by 1) using the ISO template and styling directives, 2) removing all Adobe and Acrobat specific information making the document truly vendor neutral, 3) removing obsolete material and 4) adding some material required by ISO including terms and definitions and required introductory material. The draft was also required to use International English spelling and not American English spelling.
  • Once PDF becomes an ISO standard, Adobe will be just one of many implementors of that standard. Adobe expects to participate on the ISO committees determining changes that should be included in a revised standard.
  • Adobe has agreed to abide by ISO intellectual property rules governing patents licensing.
  • Adobe will continue to innovate with respect to Acrobat, LiveCycle and PDF, and will work with the ISO committees on subsequent versions of the ISO 32000 standard.
  • AIIM, with Adobe’s support, submitted PDF 1.7 to ISO TC 171 for fast track processing as an existing de facto standard. A rather different approach could have been to have some other organization, like ECMA, standardize PDF and then submit it to ISO as their existing standard. It would also have been possible to submit to the Joint Technical Committee (JTC1) which is a cooperation between ISO and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). The same path through AIIM to ISO TC 171 has been followed in establishing PDF/A (ISO 19005) and PDF/E (ISO 24517). PDF/X (ISO 15930) took yet a different path.

Further Information:

  • AIIM PDF Standard:
  • ISO Process:
  • PDF 1.7 Reference:
  • Q&A on Adobe website:
  • Adobe Contact: Nora Calvillo <>


  • By Ed Smith-Rowland - 6:06 AM on December 5, 2007  

    I enjoy reading the inside scoop on PDF (or any other software project).I would like to hear what’s different in PDF 1.7 vs. 1.6, 1.5, etc.Partly I am wondering from a technical point how much more work it would take Free software developers to support the new standard relative to what they have now.But I am also interested in the history ;-)[Each release of PDF has been a superset. We have almost never removed a feature. I will try to create a future blog to show what was added with each release. With some effort you can create this yourself because in the introductory sections of each specification it lists the changes made in the level. Almost all of the specifications are still available on Adobe’s website. — Jim King]

  • By denon prawiraatmadja - 9:56 AM on July 6, 2008  

    dear sir/madamwe are from Indonesian digital records preservation company, we gave some of our clients to keep their records in xml format, would it be anble format as adobe pdf/a announced as internatonal standards?thanks[PDF/A is and has been an ISO standard for many years. It is an excellent format for archiving unchanging documents. The recent announcement is for PDF which is the full language which has now been published as an ISO specification. – Jim King]