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Adobe's PDF Format Now An International Standard

The International Organization for Standardization will assume responsibility for publishing specs for the current version, and for updating and developing future versions.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) said Thursday that it has approved Adobe's venerable Portable Document Format publishing specification as an international standard.

The move follows a recent decision by Adobe to release PDF to the ISO, which will assume responsibility for publishing specifications for the current 1.7 version, and for updating and developing future versions.

"By releasing the full PDF specification for ISO standardization, we are reinforcing our commitment to openness," Adobe chief technology officer Kevin Lynch said in a statement.

"As governments and organizations increasingly request open standards, maintenance of the PDF specification by an external and participatory organization will help continue to drive innovation and expand the rich PDF ecosystem," said Lynch.

Adobe introduced PDF in 1993. Since then, it's been used by millions of consumers and businesses to create and publish documents through Adobe's Acrobat application.

"As an ISO standard, we can ensure that this useful and widely popular format is easily available to all interested stakeholders," ISO secretary-general Alan Bryden said in a statement. "The standard will benefit both software developers and users by encouraging the propagation and dissemination of a common technology."

ISO recognition for PDF could open the door for its use by governments and public agencies that are required to use standardized technologies. It could also ensure that it continues to command significant market share over Microsoft's rival XML Paper Specification.

The ISO recently drew complaints from open source advocates for fast-tracking approval of Microsoft's Office Open XML document format.

Technically, the new PDF standard is called ISO 32000-1, Document management -- Portable document format -- Part 1: PDF 1.7. The betting here is that most people will continue to just call it PDF.

The full specification can be purchased from ISO national member institutes for about $360.

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