Adobe cedes control of PDF

We now have a new standard for finished document exchange: Portable Document Format, aka PDF.

Actually, PDF has been the de facto standard for several years now. But the Adobe corporation, which is responsible for software products such as Photoshop, has now ceded control over the document format to the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO).

For me this news is worth celebrating as it brings closer the day when I shall no longer have to suffer people sending me finished documents in Microsoft Word format. My usual response to such unsolicited email attachments is to ask whether I’m expected to edit the documents, improve their English or whatever. Word files are also bloated, and are a security risk as it is easy for those with malicious intent to hide viruses and other digital nasties within them.

I wish corporate communications officers, civil servants and others who distribute finished documents in Word format would understand just how inconsiderate this behaviour is. Word is not a standard, or at least will not be so until Microsoft adopts the Open Document Format (ODF) and stops attempting to de-rail the ISO-recognised ODF with its proprietary OpenXML technology.

In case you didn’t know, you can export to PDF files documents created with newer versions of Microsoft Office, and all versions of OpenOffice.org, iWork and other popular office applications. For Mac users, PDF is the native metafile format for Apple’s OS X operating system.

Adobe’s action in relinquishing control of the data format it created puts Microsoft to shame.