From PostScript® to Portable Document Format (PDF), Adobe has a tradition of establishing, supporting, and promoting standards. That tradition continues with our commitment to building technology solutions that embrace industry standards and meet customer requirements.
Adobe is an active member in dozens of standards bodies, working groups, and industry associations that develop standards worldwide — including XML-based industry standards. We contribute ongoing resources and publish, review, and share technology.
PDF is now an open standard
Adobe is known for developing PDF. It first became a de facto standard and is now a de jure standard known as ISO 32000-1. Exemplifying innovation through standards, PDF is everywhere. From day one, the PDF specification was publicly published by Adobe without any licensing restrictions, which helped it become the de facto worldwide standard for the reliable distribution and exchange of electronic documents. On January 29, 2007, Adobe announced its intent to release the full PDF 1.7 specification to AIIM, the enterprise content management association, for publication by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). ISO published the approved ISO 32000-1 standard based upon PDF 1.7 in July 2008. ISO will also produce future versions of the PDF specification. This provides a formal, open standard for the more than one billion PDF files in existence today and guides the hundreds of developers creating software to process PDF files.
Read the ISO press release.
Buy the ISO 32000-1 specification.
ETSI issues a standard for digital signatures in PDF
Adobe participated in developing the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) standard for use of ISO 32000 PDF digital signatures in the European Union, resulting in the publication of the five-part standard ETSI TS 102 778 in June 2009.
PRC is becoming an open standard
Adobe released control of the Product Representation Compact (PRC) specification for 3D visualization to ISO. The project will specify an open file format for creating different representations of 3D models. As an extension of the ISO 32000 standard effort, ISO is working to standardize the open PRC specification, which supports product manufacturing information (PMI) as an additional 3D data structure, as part of the PDF/E standard. Along with U3D, PRC is being embraced by the standards community as a robust, neutral file format for 3D engineering data exchange and long-term archival. AIIM has announced the formation of a working group to develop the PRC specification for presentation to ISO.
Read the AIIM FAQ.
PDF standards comparison
Because the complete PDF specification is now a formal, open standard (ISO 32000), it is possible to choose from a number of PDF types and still be confident that your approach is standards based. Each PDF standard is designed to meet the needs of different business professionals at varying stages in the content lifecycle.
|Specification or guideline||Purpose||Description|
"Conventional" PDF for a broad range of uses
|Contains the complete PDF specification and supersedes the 1.7 edition of the Adobe PDF Reference. This standard will become the foundation for all future generations of derivative standards.
ISO press release
ISO 32000 specification
Records managers, archivists, compliance managers
|Provides specifications for the creation, viewing, and printing of digital documents used for long-term preservation. PDF/A preserves and protects final documents of record as self-contained files. It does not allow references to external content since those items may not exist in the future. PDF/A-1 is based on PDF v1.4. PDF/A-2 is under development.
ISO 19005 specification
PDF/A resource page
ETSI TS 102 778
|PDF digital signatures
in the European Union
Anyone who needs document-based signatures to enable electronic processes
|Provides a standard that will facilitate more secure paperless business transactions throughout Europe, in conformance with European legislation. Maintained by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), ETSI TS 102 778 builds upon the ISO 32000 standard to define a series of profiles for PAdES — PDF Advanced Electronic Signatures that comply with European Directive 1999/93/EC.
ETSI press release
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5
Adobe digital signatures portfolio (PDF: )
Architects, engineers, construction professionals, manufacturing product teams
|Provides specifications for the creation, viewing, and printing of documents used in engineering workflows. PDF/E facilitates the exchange of documentation and drawings to share with others in the supply chain or streamline review and markup. It specifies PDF settings suitable for building, manufacturing, and geospatial workflows and supports interactive media, including animation and 3D. PDF/E-1 is based on PDF v1.6.
ISO 24517 specification
Creating PDF/E-ready files (PDF: 1.5M )
Print professionals, graphic designers, creative professionals
|Provides specifications for the creation, viewing, and printing of final print-ready or press-ready pages. PDF/X provides guidelines for PDF settings affecting critical aspects of printing, such as color space and trapping. It also restricts other content — such as embedded multimedia — that does not directly serve high-quality print production output.
ISO PDF/X specification
Healthcare providers and consumers
|Provides best practices and implementation guidelines to facilitate the capture, exchange, preservation, and protection of healthcare information. Following these guidelines provides a more secure electronic container that can store and transmit health information including personal documents, XML data, DICOM images and data, clinical notes, lab reports, electronic forms, scanned images, photographs, digital X-rays, and ECGs.
AIIM PDF Healthcare committee page
People with disabilities, IT managers in government or commercial enterprises, compliance managers
|Provides a set of guidelines for creating PDF files that are universally accessible. PDF/UA files enhance the readability of a document for people with disabilities, such as vision impairment or limited mobility. These guidelines can be used in conjunction with a wide variety of other PDF file creation settings.
AIIM PDF/UA committee page
Accessibility resource page
|Variable and transactional printing
|Provides specifications for the creation, viewing, and printing of print files, such as bank statements and business invoices, used in the variable and transactional printing industry .
AIIM PDF/VT committee page
Adobe is an active participant in dozens of standards organizations and committees worldwide, helping to ensure that businesses and government agencies can easily and more securely exchange information across the enterprise. Following is listing of some organizations Adobe is involved with.
- AIIM International
- American National Standards Institute (ANSI)
- Association for Cooperative Operations Research and Development (ACORD)
- British Standards Institute (BSI)
- International Conference on Harmonization (ICH)
- International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
- Japanese Standards Association (JSA)
- Mortgage Industry Standards Maintenance Organization (MISMO)
- National File Format
- Origo Services
- United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT)
- World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
- Accessibility Forum — Section 508
- Assistive Technology Industry of America (ATIA)
- European Blind Union, Technical Working Group
- Federal Enterprise Architecture Working Groups and Communities of Practice
- Industry Advisory Council
- UK eGovernment Unit Cabinet Office, Interoperability Working Group
- Universal Collaboration
- W3C Authoring Tools Accessibility Working Group (ATAG)
- W3C User Agent Accessibility Working Group (UAAG)
- W3C Web Content Accessibility Working Group (WCAG)
- American Foundation for the Blind
- Association for Information Management Professionals
- CENSA and GERA
- DAISY Consortium
- Drug Information Association
- National Federation of the Blind
- Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society
- Royal National Institute of the Blind