Re: Adobe's PDF

David C. Martin (
Tue, 20 Jul 1993 13:14:27 PDT

I don't understand why there is this foregone conclusion that PDF will
not support structure. I went to the announcement and spoke to the
product development manager and both the announcement and the individual
said that SGML structure would be incorporated into PDF.

Granted, it might not be there today, but I think that the PDF format
has more going for it right now than HTML (or HTML+). At least it has
the prospect of becoming as ubiquitous as PostScript :-)

There are many other concerns related to document interchange than those
being addresss by the WWW community. The presentation of the document
is paramount to many publishers and they would not consider the use of
something like HTML/+ to distribute their publications. Many are moving
to SGML, but their DTD's will differ among both publications and issues
(as the DTD matures) and PDF at least offers the hope of being able to
distribute an electronic version of the document w/o the loss of the
presentation or the structural information.

Now, this is only my $0.02, and I haven't read the PDF book (yet). But
my contacts in the publishing field look at PDF with great expectations
and are definitely considering it as a potential solution.

Daniel Miles Kehoe writes:


You made the point,

> Support for PDF should be through the same mechanism
> as handling PostScript documents or any other non-HTML document

I agree with you -- from the point of view of architecture, why
should PDF be a special case.

But consider my point of view as an information provider. Suppose I
have a book that contains text and drawings. I'd like to distribute a
hypertext version of the book. I'd like to know that the format I
pick for my drawings can be read by most (or all) WWW browsers. PDF
might be that format, for the reasons I outlined earlier. Is there a
better format to use as a default?

Furthermore, as an information provider, I want to distribute only
one version of my book. I can distribute a single PDF file with
assurance that any Mac or Windows user can read the document (and DOS
and UNIX users too, when Adobe achieves its promises). (This begs the
question, "will Acrobat catch on" -- but anyone can buy an Acrobat
reader in an Egghead Software store for $40 and I'm willing to take
that chance).

Suppose the first page of the book said...

"If you have a WWW browser and an Internet connection, click here for
a more current version of this book (across the net). If you are
using an Adobe PDF reader, click here to learn more about WWW and the
Internet (information in this local file)."

If the PDF link annotation were extended to accomodate URL/URNs, and
the user's WWW browser read PDF files, the user could bounce to a
newer (and structured) HTML version of the book. If they can't, well,
I'm still assured they can read the version they've got and maybe
they'll get web-happy later.

As an information provider, I want to be assured the format of the
files I distribute can be read by as many people as possible. I'm not
going to be distributing the majority of my books across the net
(that would limit my market for now). But I'd like to offer the
advantages of the Web's Internet hyperlinks to readers who can use
them. Of course, PDF ability doesn't have to built into every WWW
browser for this. I can hope some WWW browsers are installed with PDF
viewers as linked applications. But that still leaves me with the
problem of not knowing if I've picked a format that can read by most
WWW users. So I'd prefer to see native support for PDF in WWW

Of course, we need to recognize that this is wildly speculative right
now. I don't know that a WWW browser can accomodate PDF and I don't
know that Adobe would accept a proposal to extend the PDF link
annotation specification. But it's worth exploring.