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The Evolution of PDF: Part 2

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Table of Contents

Continuing on from The Evolution of PDF: Part 1,  we find that Adobe Acrobat makes a huge leap in innovation and development of their product suite. Their goal is firmly set on a worldwide side for documents.

PDF/X-1 – A Standard in the Making

A consortium of companies came together to create the PDF/X-1 standard. It was released in 1998 to solve the reliability problem. The PDF/X-1 standard is based on the specifications for PDF 1.2 files. However, it provides a clear description of how a PDF file should be to allow blind transfers. A PDF/X-1 file means that you can be certain that all fonts have been included and all high-resolution images have been embedded.

While PDF/X-1 is based upon PDF 1.2, there are additional operators. These operators are listed in Adobe technote 5188.

  • The possibility to embed additional data such as copydot files
  • Support for ICC-based colours
  • The definition of art-box, trim, and bleed
  • A key that documents the file regardless of whether it has been locked.

PDF 1.3

Acrobat 4 was originally launched by Adobe in April 1999. It introduced PDF 1.3. It now supports:

  • 2-byte CID fonts
  • Specifications for OPI 2.0
  • DeviceN is a new color space that supports spot colors.
  • Smooth shading is a technology that allows you to blend colors or tints very smoothly.
  • Annotations

Acrobat had many novelties of its own, such as:

  • Support for page sizes up 5080x5080mm, up from 1143x1143mm
  • Webcapture
  • Acrobat Distiller has a number of preset configurations that make it easier to create PDF-files.
  • A confusing name change: The former Acrobat Exchange was renamed Acrobat. This is also the name of the entire suite of software.
  • Easy integration with Microsoft Office
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Adobe tried to charge for the bugfix, Acrobat 4.05. Adobe attempted to charge users for Acrobat 4.05. Adobe was kind enough to send Acrobat 4.05. to all registered users. However, it took us four months to receive it in Europe.

It was clear that PDF was an accepted format for information exchange by the time Acrobat 4.05 came out. Acrobat Reader was downloaded more than 100 million times from the internet. Many people are still convinced of the utility of PDF for file sharing, troubleshooting and soft-proofing.

Illustrator 9 and PDF 1.4 – Acrobat on the back burner

Adobe released Illustrator 9 in mid 2000. While it is not unusual to launch a new version for a drawing program, Illustrator 9 had one unique feature. It was the first application that supported PDF 1.4 and its transparency function. Adobe didn’t accompany a new PDF version with an updated version of Acrobat for the first time. The full specifications of PDF 1.4 were not released by Adobe, but technote 5407 described the transparency support in PDF.

Acrobat 5 – (version name: Brazil)

Acrobat 5 finally appeared in May 2001 and PDF 1.4 was born. The file format had not changed much.

  • The addition of transparency support allows objects like text and images to see through.
  • Improved security with 128-bit encryption, and the ability to set the quality of printing (PDFs can only be printed in low resolution).

Adobe has also included some extras to the PDF 1.4 file format for users:

  • JavaScript support was enhanced, with JavaScript 1.5 now available. Also, integration with databases has been improved.
  • “Tagged PDFs” are PDF files that include structural information about the data in the PDF document. A PDF-document can also contain meta-information such as defining titles and blocks of ,….
    • This allows you to easily create PDF-files that adapt to the device on which they will be used. This feature is intended for ebook publishers in the new market. It allows PDF files to be reused on multiple systems. Adobe now ships a PalmOS version of Acrobat Reader.
    • It will also make it simpler to reuse content
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Acrobat 5’s new features were well received by most users. These enhancements were available to users:

  • Acrobat 5 can display overprints. Acrobat 5 can display a green box if the user has placed a yellow box overprint on a background of cyan. This option is disabled by default.
  • Batch operations can be performed by Acrobat 5, which can be used to, among other things, export PDF files from folders to EPS-es.
  • Distiller 5 can compress images using DeviceN colors. Multitone PDF files will therefore be smaller.
  • Acrobat 5 and Distiller 5 use a better color management engine known as ACE, which allows for finer control.
  • Annotating PDF-files in Acrobat 5 is easier and more flexible than it can be anywhere else.

Acrobat 5 was an important upgrade for users.

  • Forms-functionality was greatly improved.
  • Acrobat’s user interface was more like Microsoft Office applications. Integration of Acrobat in Office was also improved.
  • Acrobat could be used to start Distiller and Catalog.
  • When a PDF file in Acrobat 5 is opened, thumbnails are automatically created.
  • You can now export data from a PDF file to an RTF format using new and improved export-filters. This allowed files to be exported to word processors with a consistent appearance.
  • Acrobat 5 was, however, a downgrade for some users. Adobe replaced the “Paper capture” plug-in that OCR scanned pages in order to create a text-based PDF using a very limited Web service.



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