For those who do more with heavy technical reference tomes than merely prop open the window, you’ll be interested to know of Adobe’s latest opus; the (now) 30.9 MB, 1,310 page PDF Reference (and accompanying Errata and Redaction Addendum).
When Adobe Systems originally decided to publish the PDF Reference, the document that describes in all significant detail the innards of PDF, was fairly manageable in scope. With a few months dedicated effort, a reasonably competent development team could (in theory) build software to make simple PDFs every bit as good as PDFs made with Adobe’s own code.
Since then, many third-party developers have tried their hand at PDF creation, manipulation and management with a wide variety of results. The challenge of “keeping up with Adobe” has grown massively since initial publication of the Reference, and most 3rd party developers don’t try – many of the newer features in PDF are simply unnecessary for their applications. Thus far, anyhow, Adobe has seen itself honor-bound to respect PDF files meeting a very broad definition of “valid”, no matter how old (or creaky) they may be.
The PDF Reference 1.7, the “Acrobat 8 update”, is now available for free download from Adobe’s PDF Technology Center.
by Duff Johnson