PDF Becomes ISO Standard, Cash Registers Ring at Adobe

Last Updated Jul 8, 2008 5:29 PM EDT

Adobe logoAfter announcing its intentions a year-and-a-half ago, Adobe's PDF file format has officially become a new ISO standard:
The new standard, ISO 32000-1, Document management â€" Portable document format â€" Part 1: PDF 1.7, is based on the PDF version 1.7 developed by Adobe. This International Standard supplies the essential information needed by developers of software that create PDF files (conforming writers), software that reads existing PDF files and interprets their contents for display and interaction (conforming readers), and PDF products that read and/or write PDF files for a variety of other purposes (conforming products).
When Adobe first started promoting PDF as a document format, it wanted to charge for the reader, but that went nowhere with the "maybe I can cruise the mall food court and fill up on samples instead of buying something" crowd.
At the time it seemed that with a free reader PDF would completely dominate document distribution, and back than the web consisted of documents rather than today's interactive hyperlink-soup. As an ISO-approved standard PDF could yet become the only way to represent documents - it's possible to imagine HTML being reduced to providing the text layout for web-based applications.
That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but there's still nothing like having a file format standard to do some magic for sales of your software for creating and manipulating those files, all the while giving you with a big head start on any competition. Of course, anyone who wants a copy of that open format -- well, they can buy it. Hey, corporate managers, you really didn't think that you'd get something for nothing, did you?
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    Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.