Everything You Need to Know About PDFs

Whether you are an attorney, business professional, or student, PDFs are a fact of life. However, what are they exactly and how do they work? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about PDFs.

A Brief History of the PDF

PDFs or Portable Document Formats a digital document format based on PostScript coding language. The technology was originally developed by Adobe Inc. in 1998 and was eventually standardized as IOS 32000 in 2008.

Before the invention of the PDF, companies had no way to transfer large files between operating systems was nearly impossible. Transferring docs from Windows to Mac would cause data loss and the document would be unreadable. Adobe co-founder John Warnock sought to solve this problem.

Warnock wanted “the ability to exchange information between machines, between systems, between users in a way that ensured that the file would look the same wherever it went.”

This vision led Warnock and the team at Adobe to program a new file format that would enable users to send data between operating systems without data loss and with high-resolution clarity. After years of development, Adobe unveiled the PDF in 1991 and released it to the public in 1998.

However, Adobe Acrobat, the software app needed to use and operate PDFs, was not easily accessible to most people. The software was expensive, and the public did not understand the need for this technology. It was well ahead of its time but once it caught on, it was the hero of data storage and communication. Companies could send editable files to clients or each other without having to worry about how the Word doc would be read by a Mac computer.

Other PDF Technologies

While Adobe is the indisputable inventor of the PDF, other companies did rise to the occasion. Core w3c technologies like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Microsoft technologies based on OOXML like DjVu, EPUB, and Pages are considered close competitors. However, these systems do not transfer data between one another as well as Adobe Acrobat’s PDF. PDFs are compatible with many formats and purposes from archiving to engineering and graphics exchanges.

How It Works

PDFs fall into one of two categories: native PDFs and scanned PDFs. Native PDFs include any documents/data from electronic sources in the same operating system. For example, Word and Excel documents, HTML, Adobe InDesign, and computer-generated reports are all considered native data. Scanned PDFs, as the name would suggest are physical paper documents converted to electronic documents.

There are also additional PDF tools that can be added as extensions or plug-ins for search engines and software. These tools give users the ability to view PDF documents on all platforms without downloading Adobe Acrobat.

Since it rose to popularity in the early aughts, Adobe Acrobat and PDF documents have become invaluable to companies and individuals everywhere. In fact, statistics show that:

  • In April 2016, over 2.2 billion PDF files were available to the public
  • 73 million PDF files were saved every day in Google Drive and Mail
  • In 2018, PDFs accounted for 85% of all document formats on Bing
  • 2 billion PDFs are opened in Outlook every year
  • The US Department of Justice has over 1 billion PDFs in its database

Maximize Efficiency, Protect Privacy

PDFs are a phenomenal resource for businesses of any size and individuals. You can transfer documents safely and efficiently with only one document format. However, like any other type of software, PDFs can be vulnerable to hacking and viruses. If you open a PDF that is infected with a virus, you could potentially open a pandora’s box of issues with your computer.

The best way to ensure that your files remain virus-free is by entrusting your document conversion to a professional. At Acro Photo Print Inc. we can help you convert piles of important documents into searchable, editable, digital versions that are secure. Whether you need to create a digital archive for your legal practice or a PDF version of a physical document, our team can help.

Contact Acro Photo Print Inc. to find out how we can help!