by lrosenth


December 4, 2007

Adobe has received word that the Ballot for approval of PDF 1.7 to become the ISO 32000 Standard (DIS) has passed by a vote of 13::1.

Countries voting positive with no comments:  Australia, Bulgaria, China, Japan, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine. (9)
Countries voting positive with comments: UK (13), USA (125), Germany (11), Switzerland (19).  (4)
Countries voting negative with comments: France (37). (1)   
Countries abstaining: Russia (1)
Italy sent comments but is not a voting (P) member.

Total votes 14.  

13 Positive is 93% (must be > 66.6%)  1 Negative is 7% (must be < 25%).  Clear winner!

Total comments (205).

Five countries added comments to their ballots for a total of 205 that will have to be resolved.

I have been nominated by the US Committee to be the technical editor so for the meeting of the International working group on ISO 32000 on January 21-23, 2008 I will come prepared with responses to all of the 205 comments. If the group can address all the comments to the satisfaction of all countries, especially the ones voting negatively, it is possible to finish at that meeting and publish the revised document. If the resolution is more complicated then we will enter a 2 month FDIS vote. The FDIS votes are not accompanied by comments so if we get no more negative votes at that time the revised document will be the one published as ISO 32000.

It may seem strange that the sponsoring country (US) is the one with the most comments (125) but I think that is a reflection of two things: the US committee contains a lot of knowledgeable people including several from Adobe, and we honestly found some mistakes that we felt must be corrected. To me this reflects the honesty with which this group has approached this whole effort. We could have held back to reduce the number but that is not the way this whole effort has been conducted and we are not about to start with any trickery.

The challenging part will be to get people to participate in the next release of the standard. Lots of people want standards but it takes a measurable resource commitment to participate.

Contact me at:


  • By Brin - 1:26 PM on December 4, 2007  

    Hello, nice site 🙂

  • By anonymous - 7:22 PM on December 4, 2007  

    why did the French refuse it? i want to see the comments. link please[I do not know a link, sorry. It is not my place to distribute ISO documents. You will have to see if you can get this detailed information from ISO directly. You could also try AIIM who holds the secretariat for this work. — Jim King]

  • By Dave Barnes - 7:27 PM on December 4, 2007  

    Why did les français vote negative?What were their comments (translated to English, of course)?[Same as previous question. Same answer also. Sorry. — Jim King]

  • By Brad - 7:43 PM on December 4, 2007  

    Congrats on becoming a standard. Does this mean that PDF will now be without any IP encumbrances (patents, etc) so that it may now become completely ubiquitous? I would like to use PDF, but I don’t want to have to buy Distiller. It’s very expensive.[PDF has not had any IP encumbrances in the past. Adobe had a completely open and free policy about PDF. You may still have to spend money to buy quality products. Having the PDF specification in public hands should encourage more developers which should increase competition, which might lower prices. But we will have to wait and see. — Jim King]

  • By Peter Andrews - 7:49 PM on December 4, 2007  

    Where can we find a list of the recommended changes? I’m curious what people thought needed reworking.Otherwise, excellent news.[Thanks. I have mentioned this on a couple of previous comments but let me get more specific about where to look. I do not know whether these comments are supposed to be reserved for committee members only or not. You can check the ISO website or the AIIM website and see if you can locate the information. If you are successful, please let me know or post another comment here. — Jim King]

  • By pestilence669 - 10:03 PM on December 4, 2007  

    Does this mean that PDF will fall into the public domain, or will implementors still be liable for licensing costs?[The specification for PDF will be under control of ISO. Adobe has never charged anyone for writing their own software for reading, writing, or processing PDF and we have no plans to change that. Some software that Adobe has created is charged for although one of the most widely used applications in the world is the free Adobe Reader.ISO’s policy for their standards is the RAND policy (reasonable and non-discriminatory licensing). Adobe has always done free licensing for PDF and we plan to continue that policy for PDF. — Jim King]

  • By Syed Shah - 10:24 PM on December 4, 2007  

    I have worked for a ISO certification body for the past couple of years 2005 – 2007. Over this period of time I have lost the faith in the ISO to be a benchmark for anything. The 9001 Quality Management can be achieved and maintained with no effort of quality assurance and little auditing is done by the certification body or the ISO. In fact I have never seen or heard from the ISO in the two years I have been certifying companies up to the 9001, 14001, 18001, 27001 standard. It has been a response from so many CEO’s, GM’s and other authority figures that a ISO standard is nothing but a marketing tool. I think this is the case here with the 32000, it’s nothing but a marketing tool for Adobe.[I am sorry you feel so negative toward ISO and ISO standards. Believe me this is a serious thing for Adobe as we are giving up control of one of the companies real jewels. The ISO committees and organizations that Adobe has been associated with have been excellent and we have full confidence that this standardization of PDF will work out well for everyone. But it is a change for Adobe and we are in the process of adjusting lots of our procedures for developing software that deals with PDF to accommodate this new world. Way bigger impact than marketing. — Jim King]

  • By Craig - 11:01 PM on December 4, 2007  

    Congratulations.Now Microsoft can implement ISO 32000 and include it default in Office (as originally planned) without needing to worry about Adobe sewing them.[Interesting observation even if it perpetuates a myth. Microsoft is a designated monopoly and there are things they cannot do. One of them is to give away software in order to cut off a revenue from a competitor. That has nothing to do with licensing or sewing (suing).Adobe has had a free and open licensing policy for anyone implementing software the deals with PDF from day one. We plan to continue that. We do license our top quality software, however. — Jim King]

  • By Tuomo Stauffer - 11:24 PM on December 4, 2007  

    Great news! Excluding that I’m a heavy mac ( and Linux, Windows ) user PDF is a nice format and now a standard. I’m sure we will see more, just get me a very good editor, not a word processor but a real publishing class one with decent price.

  • By Richard - 2:55 AM on December 5, 2007  

    What versions of Adobe Acrobat support PDF 1.7? When was it introduced into Adobe products?[PDF 1.7 is supported by Acrobat and LiveCycle products 8.0 first introduced about one year ago. PDF 1.7 is the “current” PDF standard. — Jim King]

  • By annie walker - 3:20 AM on December 5, 2007  

    Does this mean Adobe will be providing a version of Acrobat Reader for Solaris x86 or making Acrobat Reader an Open Source Project?[ISO will now control the PDF specification. Adobe will still make its own business decisions on what software to write and for which markets. My thoughts are that having ISO own the standard may encourage other developers to do more work with PDF. So that might bring you more software on more platforms with more quality and price points. We will have to wait and see. — Jim King]

  • By andrew - 3:22 AM on December 5, 2007  

    Finally… Congratulations 🙂

  • By Ron Bannon - 3:24 AM on December 5, 2007  

    I generate pdf directly from LaTeX and I am very happy to see that pdf 1.7 has become an ISO standard. Congratulations!

  • By Che Kristo - 4:01 AM on December 5, 2007  

    Great News! How smoothly this got through shows up just how much of a dogs breakfast OOXML was.

  • By Tom Hammers - 4:59 AM on December 5, 2007  

    That sucks. PDF sucks.

  • By Gershko - 8:19 AM on December 5, 2007  


  • By DoppelFrog - 9:16 AM on December 5, 2007  

    Good point; there are lots of ‘non Adobe’ products that generate (and read) PDF, including various Open Source options. You could just think of Adobe as being the premium brand in this space. :-)[Hundreds of developers, thousands of products, and billions of PDF files. And we do like to think of Adobe as the premium brand. Thanks. — Jim King]

  • By Dark Phoenix - 9:50 AM on December 5, 2007  

    Did Canada just not vote or something? They’re generally involved in stuff like this…[This ballot was done within ISO Technical Committee 171 (TC 171). Canada has not joined that committee. There were 15 voting member countries on that committee at the time of the ballot. — Jim King]

  • By Jacques - 10:14 AM on December 5, 2007  

    I used to hate PDFs, but in the past year or so I find them to be quite handy. This has got to be good news.

  • By Dave - 11:04 AM on December 5, 2007  

    Hi Jim,Congrats on achieving standardness! Kickass!I’ve heard whispers from developers in Adobe circles (and this may be FUD) that open source generators of PDF implement PDF only at a minimal level and never reach the sophistication nor feature completeness of something like Acrobat.The areas that I’ve heard open source is lacking in is in the areas of color and printing (fineness of typesetting?)I would imagine most open source PDF generators out there do not emit PDF Forms either.My question is, do you have knowledge of other products writing PDF and how they compare quality-wise to the Adobe implementation? Can you give a couple of examples of features that are mis/under-implemented in other products?I’d even be interested in reading a FUD’ish document comparing and contrasting Adobe’s products with others’ if you have one to share.Cheers,Dave[I have not personally done a study of competitive offerings to our PDF products. But I will sniff around a bit and see what I can learn. — Jim King]

  • By Joe Clark - 11:33 AM on December 5, 2007  

    I would like to know what Brad really means by “IP encumbrances.” The PDF spec, like, say, HTML, is and will remain a copyrighted document. I don’t know of any “patents” associated with it (anymore), but Brad’s “etc.” makes me suspect he’s a semi-informed open-source ideologue who insists that every single thing on the planet be “public domain,” a concept with specific and different meanings in different countries.The usage rights for PDF are actually much less restrictive than HTML’s, for example. But nobody, including Brad, can reasonably expect a day to arrive when PDF is not “encumbered” by “IP.” PDF *is* IP.[Your are getting into legal territory and I am not a lawyer. But copyright on a document pertains to that document and the words it contains. Copyright does not prevent someone from reading the document and acting on the information they learned including creating software. Software has been protected, when desired, by other means often patents and sometime by licensing specifications or libraries. Often by trade secret (just hide the information and hope no one learns it).Implementing against PDF has been unencumbered by Adobe as we license any patents essential to PDF development openly and freely. The existing specification is copyright by Adobe and the ISO 32000 one will be copyright by ISO. — Jim King]

  • By Francis - 12:37 PM on December 5, 2007  

    Congratulations!As soon as there is a link giving the comments of the french and reasons why they voted negative, I’m interested![I will post something as soon as I learn. My blog rather got the jump on things as I cannot find anything on the ISO site YET nor on AIIM. They will post information but I do not know to what level of detail.– Jim King]

  • By shishir - 2:28 PM on December 5, 2007  

    hi, congratulations for that. It will mean more wide spread usage of PDF, which doesnot seem good to me: it’s a pain to load, cut/paste and print them (espeicially on Linux/Unix). Acrobat is so slow and is default on browsers. There’s nothing like pstools for them (that I know of). And on open source side, few tools support their creation (LaTeX and what else?). I only hope that now I will have less reasons to be hesitant of PDF after this.cheers.

  • By Ritsaert Hornstra - 2:44 PM on December 5, 2007  

    Congratulations!But does this mean that for future revisions of the PDF format documents we have to pay ISO. At the moment you van just download the PDF manual from the adobe website.I always found the PDF standard quite bloated; so many options to do things, like the dozen image file formats embedded in PDFs. This is IMHO the most difficult part of the standard (it so huge due to it’s history) and may be a reason for an ISO member to say no. This is also the reason why PDF/A (eg a well defined subset of PDF with a set of optionals made obl.) seems far more reasonably as a standard than the whole of PDF 1.7![Adobe has made arrangements to continue to have the most recent specification on its website, even if it is the ISO specification. — Jim King]

  • By Dmitry Chestnykh - 4:58 PM on December 5, 2007  


    [Interesting observation even if it perpetuates a myth. Microsoft is a designated monopoly and there are things they cannot do. One of them is to give away software in order to cut off a revenue from a competitor. That has nothing to do with licensing or sewing (suing).Adobe has had a free and open licensing policy for anyone implementing software the deals with PDF from day one. We plan to continue that. We do license our top quality software, however. — Jim King]

    So you’ve made two mutually exclusive statements. Which one is right?[I do not understand what is mutually exclusive.Adobe is perfectly willing to let any other vendor develop whatever software they want that processes PDF.That is one statement.Adobe is not willing to let a company use unfair business practices, to, for instance, reduce the sales of one of Adobe’s products.That is a second statement.They are not mutually exclusive as far as I can tell. Microsoft can fit under both situations and the second one overrules the first as far as Adobe is concerned. It does not mean that we do not have the first policy. — Jim King]

  • By Dave - 5:05 PM on December 5, 2007  

    OpenOffice supports the creation of PDF. I’ve been using this in my business for years without any compatability issues, e.g. exchanging financial information with my accountant or producing downloadable PDF brochures. I’m not very technically minded but I do understand the value of open source. I just wish more people knew that a non-technical person can run a successful business without ever going anywhere near a Microsoft product. You think PDF is bloated? Look at Word and Excel! I’m glad my (free) office software supports PDF and the specification will be an ISO standard.

  • By Henrik Holmegaard, technical writer, mag.scient.soc. - 2:41 AM on December 6, 2007  

    Thank you for taking the time to share your views offline and online. The fundamental issues with the PostScript Level 2 rendering models were made plain in Seybold Publications, (1) October 1989 on the limitations of the Type 1 model and (2) July 1991 on the limitations of the CSA-CRD model that does not support the screen.Apple’s policy on the problems these rendering models have brought about is open since the models do not support referencing back to the character connection space and the colour connection space which is catastrophic for softcopy, but Adobe’s policy has been closed and the present position is unclear. Will Adobe participate in public discussions in particular on the limitations of the Type 1 composition model, and on the commercial and cultural consequences of this model for the shift to softcopy in the European Union and the United States?Before answering, please have a word with Adobe’s Color Workflow Expert.Best wishes,Henrik Holmegaardtechnical writer, mag.scient.soc.[Surprise! I am one of Adobe’s Color Workflow Experts. I was part of the team that put managed color into PostScript Level 2 and PDF. I do not understand your references to the problems and cannot seem to locate a copy of those Seybold Reports. Perhaps you can fill me in privately and I can respond in more detail.With respect to Type 1 fonts. I think you may be referring to the fact that PDF uses glyph indexes and getting back to Unicode is tricky. We have introduced many years ago a ToUnicode table that is now widely used for that. The issue of using glyph indexes and Unicode is worthy of a future blog. — Jim King]

  • By Niko Neugebauer - 3:10 AM on December 6, 2007  

    Very good news, indeed!PDF is a standard de-facto for a lot of operations, and standardizing it is a necessary step.Nothing is perfect, but lets hope that ISO 32000 will be a bit more close to perfection then PDF 1.7.[Sorry but ISO 32000 is PDF 1.7. The ISO document was edited to follow ISO rules and to eliminate Adobe dependencies but both define the same set of files. — Jim King]

  • By Keng - 9:12 AM on December 6, 2007  

    What do you think about the Russian position? Not “no”, but not “yes”. More strange that the French refusing…[There could be many reasons for abstaining and I have no additional information. Sorry. — Jim King]

  • By Mike - 4:52 PM on December 6, 2007  

    To Ritsaert, The Free Software Foundation has pledged to develop “a free, high-quality and fully functional set of libraries and programs that implement the PDF file format and associated technologies to the coming ISO standard, ISO 32000” under the GNU FDL.

  • By Dmitry Chestnykh - 2:31 AM on December 7, 2007  

    They are not mutually exclusive as far as I can tell. Microsoft can fit under both situations and the second one overrules the first as far as Adobe is concerned. It does not mean that we do not have the first policy.

    So how do Adobe decide whether a company “uses unfair practices” or not? What if I develop a product which uses PDF and you decide that I use those unfair practices?[I would hope that you would not use unfair business practices. The PDF software is still available from Microsoft if you go download it yourself. This establishes the fact that Adobe does not stop anyone from writing and supplying software to work on PDF. The Microsoft software is not loaded automatically with the OS installation because they decided not to do that. Perhaps that is evidence that they decided not to do something that could be an unfair business practice. Maybe not.– Jim King]

  • By Reece - 1:08 PM on December 7, 2007  

    There is an existing Open Source PDF reader in the Open Source domain; that is Poppler (, which is a fork of XPDF. It is used in the KPDF and Okular? viewers, and possibly others as well. The base Poppler/XPDF code provide converters to text, html and postscript. I’m not sure what version of PDF this supports, though.Congrats on getting PDF standardised.

  • By Emre - 7:15 AM on December 9, 2007  

    Very good news, indeed! Big Thanks 😉

  • By Michael Jahn - 10:28 PM on December 9, 2007  

    I am thrilled to learn that PDF is now ISO – I look forward to Mars (the XML representation of PDF) will soon follow suit, and hope to see you soon and shake your hand ![Michael: Nice to hear from you! The process isn’t completely finished yet. We have an approved with comments draft international standard (DIS). We need to resolve the comments to everyone’s satisfaction before it can be published which is the final step. There is an international committee meeting the week of January 20, 2008 where this will be reviewed. — Jim King]

  • By James - 3:51 AM on December 16, 2007  

    Just to clarify the issue with Microsoft and unfair business practices.

    Microsoft is a designated monopoly and there are things they cannot do. One of them is to give away software in order to cut off a revenue from a competitor.

    The “things they cannot do” is determined by the US government, not by Adobe as assumed by:

    So how do Adobe decide whether a company “uses unfair practices” or not? What if I develop a product which uses PDF and you decide that I use those unfair practices?

  • By Henk Gianotten - 7:45 AM on December 27, 2007  

    Congratulations! For you, the crew and John Warnock. Henrik’s question regarding Type 1 and Unicode is very important. I think. [Thanks and John says thanks. OK, I will write a blog about Type 1 and Unicode very soon. — Jim King]

  • By PDF Converter - 11:53 AM on January 30, 2008  

    Does it mean that this will affect the way that the FDA deals with electronic regulatory submissions?[No! It changes nothing that I know of. It make PDF an even better choice. –Jim King]

  • By Software developer - 8:43 AM on March 11, 2008  

    I think that the USA was a country with the most comments because Americans are interested in their future.

  • By zoobab - 6:47 AM on November 18, 2008  

    Is there a list of patents owned by Adobe covering ISO32000?Can you send me the list to zoobab at regards,[This is a great question because others have asked it also.There is no fixed list of patents owned by Adobe that are known to cover ISO 32000. One reason is that exactly what any given patent covers is quite an arguable topic and a second reason is that the list might be ever changing.Adobe has signed and delivered a patent pledge to ISO stating that it is prepared to grant a free of charge license to an unrestricted number of applicants on a worldwide, non-discriminatory basis and under other reasonable terms and conditions to make, use, and sell implementations of PDF 1.7 (ISO 32000-1).I would hope that that would suffice. Beyond that, the question is now in the hands of ISO for the future. – Jim King]

  • By Ralph H - 9:00 AM on January 28, 2010  

    Great to hear that PDF 1.7 is an open standard. Two questions.1) Where can I download the specs? (IEEE standards for the 802.X stack are freely available)[ Where can I get more details on why my Linux .PDF viewer doesn’t show any part of the document I downloaded?[Probably an encrypted file. Who supplied the Linux viewer? ]I suspect the Adobe extensions to PDF 1.7 are the issue, but can’t be sure. The wikipedia page on the PDF file format only mentions XFA as an extension to 1.7, but XFA was introduced in 1.5(I tend not to install Adobe software on Linux as the installers require that they be run as root, something that doesn’t make sense for user application software, especially a document viewing application which doesn’t need root priviledges)