PDF: Supporting Document Interchange in the Collaborative Engineering Environment

Capture1.”Electronic paper” and web-enabled document

Adobe’s Portable Document Format (PDF) is rapidly gaining acceptance as a global standard file format for electronic document distribution, printing and archiving. Files in the PDF format serve as reliable “digital masters”: they are easy to exchange, view and print. Key to this acceptance is the fact that Adobe PDF files will consistently reproduce in full—both on-screen and when printed. The “look and feel” of the original document is maintained, including all the formatting, fonts, colours, embedded images and graphics of the file created by the original application. But unlike the original application file, the PDF document is platform-independent: it can be shared, viewed and printed by anyone using the Adobe® Acrobat® reader, which is freely available. To create PDF files, Adobe offers the complete Adobe® Acrobat® software package.

“Electronic paper”: a new class of documents While PDF was becoming widely used, the Internet was also gaining worldwide acceptance. Since then, the convergence of the web and PDF technologies has led to the widespread adoption of PDF as a reliable, universal standard for document display, printing and delivery via the Internet. Largely as a result of the acceptance of both PDF and the web, a new class of documents—“electronic paper”—has emerged. These are changing the nature of business communications, combining the benefits of the familiar printed page with the power of digital technology.

Initially PDF provided an integrated “view & print” solution for the office environment. This has now evolved and broadened in scope to “view & distribute”. Documents from any source can be converted and “captured” in PDF form, and can be viewed and reproduced correctly by anyone, anywhere, with any mainstream systems and printers. Throughout their use, PDF document files retain all the knowledge and content embedded in the original document, which is why they are ideal for enterprise-wide use.