XMLizing PDF

PDF has been around for some time and is widely used. Lately, with buying Macromedia, Adobe’s strategy towards PDF changes more and more, and IMO not in a good direction. The “open” standard is gradually closed down as Adobe adds features that forces you to buy their software. Anyway, 2007 is going to be interesting for the PDF world:

Microsoft popped up with their XPS which is similar to PDF but based on XML. That’s generally a good idea, but I don’t like Microsoft imposing their “interesting” XML-style on us (see WordML). Furthermore, they’ve reinvented the wheel by defining a completely new graphical XML language instead of leveraging existing standards.

Adobe answered with Mars, an “XML-friendly implementation of PDF syntax”. Without going into much detail with either standard, I prefer the Adobe approach because Mars is based on the standards SVG, PNG and JPEG. They’ve added only the stuff needed to make a round-trip from and to PDF.

Right now, I wish we had an answer coming from the real open community, something like OpenDocument, but for paged media. But throwing in yet another proposal won’t help much, I assume. We’ll have to see what happens and encourage Adobe to keep Mars as open as possible (for example by giving it to the W3C as a better alternative to SVG Print).

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