Goals and Motivations

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The goal of the GNU PDF project is to develop and provide a free, high-quality and fully functional set of libraries and programs that implement the PDF file format, and associated technologies.

We are working to implement support for the following technologies and specs:

  • PDF 1.7
  • PDF/A-1 (ISO 19005-1:2005)
  • Extensible Metadata Platform (XMP)
  • XML Forms Architecture v2.4 (XFA)

PDF Usage in Industry

PDF has become the de-facto standard for documentation sharing in the industry.

Almost all enterprises uses PDF documents to communicate all kinds of information: manuals, design documents, presentations, etc, even if it is originally composed with OpenOffice, LaTeX or some other word processor.

Almost all enterprises use proprietary tools to compose, read and manipulate PDF files. Thus, the workers of these enterprises are forced to use proprietary programs.

PDF Usage by Governments

The use of PDF documents by many governments as a communication medium with the citizens invest particular significance. Right now there are not free software solutions implementing PDF Forms. As the result, millions of citizens are forced to use propietary software in order to ask for public bounties, to access social insurance services, to pay taxes and many other activities that require communication with public agencies.

This is quite dangerous, since these companies could get access to our private information. In the actual state of things, proprietary software makers are mandatory intermediates between us and our governments.

PDF is Going to be an International Standard

PDF 1.7 will be ISO 32000

As in June 2007, the enterprise that developed the PDF format is working with ISO to get the sixth revision of the PDF specification (1.7, released in Nov 2006) appointed as an international standard called ISO 32000.

So PDF will be soon an international standard for information sharing in the form of documents. It is expected that governments and public agencies will use the new standarized format; after all, it is already the de-facto standard.

So we will need to be able to use free software to manipulate ISO 32000 documents. That means we need free software capable to operate on PDF 1.7 documents.

Long-term archiving and ISO 19005 (PDF/A)

The ISO 32000 standard is not yet ready. But a standard called ISO 19005 has been approved in Nov 2005.

The ISO 19005 standard defines a document format named PDF/A to be used in long-term preservation and archiving of information. PDF/A is a proper subset of the PDF 1.4 specification.

From the "Why PDF/A?" section from the official ISO 19005-1:2005 FAQ:

Tremendous quantities of valuable information are currently
being created and saved all over the world as PDF, and a
specification solution is needed to ensure that digital PDF
documents remain readable, renderable and accesible for the
long-term. PDF/A is designed to be that specification

Many organizations are introducing PDF/A in their archiving procedures:

  • The US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
  • The Swedish National Archives
  • ...

On the other hand, all the vendors that officially report PDF/A-1 support are companies offering proprietary PDF products.

Graphics and ISO 15930 (PDF/X)

PDF/X is another ISO subset of the PDF standard. Its purpose is graphics exchange with high device independence: prepress digital data exchange.

Several companies support this standard.

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