Free PDF to Word TXT Converter
What's the Difference between PDF and
Before Adobe's founders got rich and famous they had worked for
Xerox at the Palo Alto Research Centre. John Warnock and Chuck Geschke
were up to their ears in page description languages, which are programming
languages that describe page content above and beyond the basic
bitmap. According to John Warnock, PostScript was designed to be
a modern standard for electronic printing, and indeed that is precisely
what it became. PostScript is a computer programming language which
can integrate text and graphic data into a single content stream.
This is part of the reason for its massive success in the graphic
arts. Its wild child, the Portable Document Format, or PDF, is not
a programming language but a data format. PDF was not originally
designed or particularly intended for the graphic arts industry.
Instead it was created for a whole other purpose. These are the
two most important differences between PostScript and PDF.
But the story is more interesting than that. Originally PDF was
intended to provide device, application, operating system and font
independence for content. It was designed to be a vehicle for transporting
content so that it could be viewed anywhere regardless of the computing
platform. It placed no restrictions on the type of content, which
meant that absolutely anything could be contained in a PDF, including
dynamic content such as sound and video. So you could view all sorts
of stuff including cartoons in a PDF. Of course the same was true
of PostScript, even though such mad applications are hardly common
in the graphic arts.
The clear distinction between these two technologies started
blurring within months of PDF's introduction to the market. The
printing community, already drenched in PostScript blood following
years of making it work, embraced PDF to provide file independence
as well as the device independence PostScript assured.
But the massive scope of PDF meant that it was extremely common
for creators of PDFs to produce deeply traumatizing processing nightmares.
Unconstrained PDFs contained all sorts of wicked mutant data that
made it extremely difficult to get print-ready files through graphic
arts workflows. An entire sector of the software industry had grown
up around the PostScript frontier, as developers rushed to introduce
preflight checking tools that would check, fix and report PostScript
processing errors. PDF mayhem created yet further opportunities
for software developers, who turned their attention to assisting
with PDF file processing. The net result is an industry deeply wedded
to Adobe PostScript and to PDF. The former has lost ground as the
market has evolved and PDF has come to dominate graphic arts workflows.
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