Karl’s Corner: Bigger than ‘Save As PDF’

Editor’s Note:
Formerly CEO of Planet PDF, Karl De Abrew is now the CEO of Debenu (www.debenu.com) — maker of the Quick PDF Library (formerly iSEDQuickPDF | QuickPDF) (www.quickpdflibrary.com), a powerful royalty-free PDF developer SDK, and Benubird Pro, the easy-to-use personal document management system.

ARTS PDF and Planet PDF are both divisions of BinaryThing

I was browsing the Planet PDF Forum Talkback section the other day, and I noticed a response to last week’s column from none other than Thad McIlroy. Thad is an established expert in the technology and marketing issues surrounding electronic publishing, color imaging and the Internet who has authored a dozen books and over 180 articles on these subjects. McIlroy served for five years as Program Director for Seybold Seminars, which is the capacity in which I first met him.


You make some good and important points in your column.

Disposing first of the departure of Mr. Elop — that’s was so expected that there would have been something wrong if he DIDN’T announce his departure. They stay for a year, bundle up the cash, and ride into the sunset.

The Microsoft/Adobe situation is PROBABLY more complex. I say ‘probably’ because Microsoft has, if your readers will recall, taken on PDF before, in the form of the Microsoft e-Book format, initiative, etc. I recall distinctly, while still with Seybold, being summoned to Redmond and read the riot act. Can’t go into all the details, but ‘PDF is piffle’ perhaps captures the spirit.

So now Microsoft is planning another go at PDF. Given Microsoft’s severe ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), I’m certainly not burying my copy of Acrobat in the backyard as of now. The ramifications for each company are significant, so we can expect a great many moves and counter-moves in the months and years to follow. The whole lawsuit red herring is just the start.



It seems that Thad more interested in the larger ‘PDF under fire/Microsoft vs. PDF’ angle than the more narrow ‘Microsoft PDF vs. Adobe PDF’ that I addressed last week, and he makes a good point. Along with XPS for print and display, you could comfortably add InfoPath to the list of Microsoft PDF competitors on the forms side of the house. The scope of competition can be broadened even further to ‘Microsoft vs. Adobe’ if you take into account Adobe’s continued moves into the enterprise space and the pending release of Microsoft’s ‘Acrylic’ pixel-based painting and vector graphics application.

Speaking to the current PDF competitor currently leading the pack, Michael Jahn — himself a ‘face’ in the PDF community from his stints as Agfa’s PDF Evangelist and Enfocus Software’s Certified PDF Evangelist — downloaded the crucial components and trialed XPS. He had the following to say:

I guess what I am saying is ‘gee wiz, everyone calm down!’

It is not like Microsoft did something to make water undrinkable or changed the locks on all our doors for cryin’ out loud.


PDF is based on PostScript, which was invented over 20 years ago. That technology is now old enough to VOTE.

We all need to exchange digital documents that behave and display as expected, and Microsoft apparently listened and realized they had to change something besides a print setting or two.

Adobe PDF is a great thing, but it requires additional software to convert native application documents into PDF, and yet another application to view it.

This all invites the question: are Office 2003’s ‘Save As PDF’ feature and the XPS technology bona fide attempts by Microsoft to satisfy customer demand or just another attempt to take over the published document world? Could they be both?

What do you think? Please drop into the Planet PDF Forum Talkback section and let us know your thoughts.

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About the Author: Karl De Abrew

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