Adobe Public Sector Blog

I’ll bet you have an opinion on using PDF for Open Government

So, unless you live completely off the grid (which, of course, means you won’t be reading this), I’m willing to bet at some point in time you’ve interacted with the government via a PDF. There, I said it.

PDF files are everywhere, I don’t really need to beat that drum. However, there is a drum that probably DOES need just a little beating regarding the usefulness of some existing PDF files to various consumers of government information. Mind you, I did NOT say the usefulness of PDF, that this standard is useful should not be in question. What should be in question is the way some people CREATE PDF files and for what purpose!

Based on a “long” 6 years of working for Adobe, I feel safe in saying that the ISO32000 standard (better known as PDF) is one of the more misunderstood formats in use on the web today. Not a day goes by that I don’t hear or read a comment that is simply wrong.

So, one might ask, how is it that such a widely used format can become so misunderstood at the same time? Of course, there are many contributing factors, but few more apparent than the ability for anyone to create a PDF and post it without regard to any best practices or an understanding of how that PDF can or may be used. Self-publishing, as great as it is, can and has created a whole new set of problems! But, I digress…..

The reason I’m writing this post today is to appeal to those who create and consume government information/data to join a discussion to help identify and articulate a set of best practices for using PDF. I started the discussion with the recognizable concern of making information available to people and machines.

If you have any interest in this topic, please join me on Govloop and participate in this discussion:

I’m looking forward to a productive and spirited conversation!

Creativity in Government, Government initiatives, Government Innovation, Policy

Join the discussion

  • By zoobab - 2:15 AM on March 26, 2010  

    380 Swiss Francs as an entry price for a specification in order to decode what the Government is publishing?

    No thank you.

  • By Bobby Caudill - 3:50 AM on March 26, 2010  

    Thank you for your comment. If you have interest in the PDF standard, you can access the full documentation set free of charge here: