Portable Document Format

Written by Kevin Tavolaro
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Portable Document Format was originally intended only as an in-house tool for Adobe Systems. The file format commonly known as PDF was created so that Adobe employees could freely exchange data documents, regardless of differences between computers, operating systems, or applications. PDF files were designed to be accessible by nearly all types of platforms, which quickly made the format popular outside of the company.

Initially, Adobe sold users the Acrobat Reader application that is still one of the most popular tools for viewing PDF files. However, the price of the software kept some people from purchasing it, effectively negating the entire purpose of a universal document format. As a result, Adobe began to provide Acrobat Reader as a free download, which can still be quickly accessed from numerous places on the Internet. As more users became equipped to access PDF files, the popularity of the format grew enormously, eclipsing two other emerging file-types which have since been forgotten.

Portable Document Format Files

PDF files possess several capabilities that are absent in common document formats. Unlike Word or Excel documents, PDF files are designed to appear exactly the same on all computers. Standard file formats such as HTML, Word, and Excel can often be automatically reconfigured according to the application being used to view it. This can result in resized text, realigned layouts, displaced images, and switched fonts. Even if these documents don't get accidentally altered due to a program's settings, they can just as easily be intentionally edited and rewritten using the parent program. If you're distributing important documents, such as customer invoices, inventory files, or instructions, you'll want to be certain that the recipient will see them exactly as they were intended.

PDF documents ensure the integrity of your data by building all aspects of a document into a solitary unit. This means that text, colors, graphs, photos, and layouts are all preserved in a PDF document, and are secured against automatic reconfiguration by a browser or application. PDF files are notoriously difficult to alter, which further protects the integrity of the data.

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