Adobe’s PDF format is no longer Adobe’s. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) recently voted to approve PDF as an international document format standard. The vote passed 13-to-one in favor and PDF will become ISO Standard 32000.
Although already somewhat of a default standard, the official seal of approval means the format’s future is no longer in proprietary hands, though of course Adobe does intend to participate in the ISO committees which will oversee the future of PDF and decide what new features to implement.
What makes the news somewhat confusing is that certain subsets of PDF were already ISO approved standards — for instance PDF/Archive (PDF/A) and PDF/Exchange (PDF/X) — but this the first time that the entire PDF specification has run the ISO gauntlet and it means that you needn’t fear proprietary meddling in the future of PDF documents.
ISO approval may not mean much for the average user, however, it does add another file format the to the growing list of standardized office document formats like ODF — and that’s big news for government organizations concerned with document compatibility.
Although Adobe has said from the beginning that the submission of PDF to the ISO approval process had nothing to do Microsoft’s XPS format — often referred to, at least within the Redmond campus, as a PDF-killer — PDF’s newfound ISO blessing will likely mean a premature death for Microsoft’s XPS.