Current developments at the PDF Association 2021

Now that the most important event of the year around PDF technology and software has been completed and the PDF Association’s Online PDF Days 2021  has ended successfully with 38 webinars and over 2,000 registered participants, we would like to give a brief insight into the upcoming, further developments at the PDF Association.

The PDF Association, based in Berlin, is an international association of member organisations and individuals whose aim is to promote the development of PDF technology on the one hand and to offer mutual support on the other. The PDF Association e.V. is a global organisation that was founded in 2006 as the PDF/A Competence Center. In 2011, the organisation expanded its scope to cover all aspects of PDF technology.

The PDF Association is made up of many, diverse members. These include: Businesses, non-profit organisations, government agencies as well as consultants from over 20 countries worldwide. With its developments and events as well as working groups, the PA also wants to address developers of PDF solutions or be a contact for companies that work with PDF in document management and enterprise content management. In addition, users who want to advance the implementation of PDF technology in their companies can also benefit, for example.

What are the most important current developments within the PDF Association?

  • 3D technology in PDF format
  • E-mail archiving with PDF
  • Securing PDF
  • Problems with PDF standards
  • New functions for member services

On 3D technology in PDF

The further development of 3D technology is important for PDF Association members interested in the AEC, aerospace and automotive industries, among others. Back in September, the PDF Association published a more detailed article on the subject of 3D PDF:

3D PDF is often used when working with plan and design data. It is particularly convenient if this data can also be distributed and archived so that all team members can use it (even without the original CAD file). The PDF Association currently wants to promote the development of standardised 3D technologies in the PDF context and, among other things, further expand support for STEP in PDF. A STEP file is a 3D model file formatted in STEP (i.e. standard for the exchange of product data), which is the ISO standard exchange format.

More about using 3D content with Acrobat:

On email archiving with PDF

An exciting collaboration has arisen with the University of Illinois. Specifically, a technical specification is to be developed to support the concept of email archiving with PDF. The project is to start before the end of the year.

More on the topic of e-mail archiving with PDF:

On the topic of securing PDF

Peter Wyatt, CTO of the PDF Association, who represents the PDF industry in DARPA’s SafeDocs programme, has spent much of 2021 improving the Arlington PDF Model, a specification-derived, machine-readable definition of the full PDF Document Object Model (DOM) as defined in the PDF 2.0 specification. The model is freely available via GitHub.

Problems with the PDF standards

Peter Wyatt also created and maintains the pdf-issues repository on GitHub. It serves as a central facility for PDF developers to post requests for clarification or issues they find in the latest PDF specifications around PDF 2.0. All developers – not just PDF Association members – are encouraged to post their concerns, which are then regularly reviewed by the PDF Association’s PDF Technical Working Group. With 100 issues already closed, this has been very successful in helping everyone in the PDF industry achieve the highest possible level of interoperability and reliability.

New features for member services

Recently, the PDF Association’s Feature Support pages have been revamped to allow members to express their support for the latest ISO standards via the product presentation on A new “call-to-action” feature at the top of each page now creates new opportunities for members to drive traffic to their own products, services and thought leadership content.

Outlook into 2022

The planning of the first live event on PDF technology for the third quarter of 2022 has begun. Further projects, such as new standards, new resources and new technologies are in preparation.

Additional hint and tip: To keep an eye on the next steps in the development of ISO standards for PDF technology, you should also keep an eye on the ISO status page: Here you will also find the results of the meetings of the ISO committee responsible for the file format specifications for PDF, PDF/A, PDF/UA, PDF/R, ECMAscript for PDF and related standards.