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#0: 06-20-2013 @ 07:18:51 am
Link to this Post: http://www.machvergil.com/gamenight/messages.php?go=5876#5876

BountyHunterSAxBountyHunterSAx

  • Real Name:Ahmad Rasheed
  • Joined:2011-06-29

So, a small corner of my world has shaken this morning, and I'm not quite sure what to make of it.

I've always understood that PDF files are special because they cannot be edited (typically) and will appear the same across every computer regardless of what fonts you have installed, what defaults your word processor uses, etc. etc. Then I grew older and learned about PDF-forms that had editable fields, but outside of that at least were stable.

Today I was required to put a signature on such a PDF form. But (obviously) it's not gonna be possible to leave a field for that. And I'm way too lazy to have to go hunting for a scanner if it can be done more conveniently. Enter PDFEscape.com. Without creating an account or an installer I was able to load my PDF, edit it within the form fields, then edit it OUTSIDE the form fields including using "whiteout" and "image insertion" as well as text insertion. To be blunt: I could have made any changes I damn well pleased.

So, someone please explain to me: what is a PDF really? What makes it special/different from a .doc?


-AHMAD

This post was edited by BountyHunterSAx on June 20, 2013, 10:19 am


#1: 06-20-2013 @ 07:29:29 am
Link to this Post: http://www.machvergil.com/gamenight/messages.php?go=5877#5877

MachVergilMachVergil

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  • Real Name:Adam
  • Joined:2010-01-22

The Portable Document Format is a file type invented by Adobe. You can read about it in great detail on wikipedia here.

The TL;DR about it is that a PDF creates a zoom-able image of a document, rather than attempting to create a version of the document that is rendered at run-time, like a word processor document.  The PDF was invented during an era in which Microsoft Office wasn't available outside of Windows, free word processors really didn't exist, and yet there was a need for everyone with a computer to open a document.  PDFs are historically created by "printing to them" - which is to say you open your document and rather than hit "save" you hit "print."  The PDF writer software is seen as a printer to your computer, and you "print" the PDF, resulting in a static, fixed, image of your document that cannot be edited again by your word processor lest you overwrite the file.  Of course these days many professional word processors and modern OSes have a "Save to PDF" button since the printing to PDF thing may have seemed unintuitive.

Another thing to remember is Adobe's internet strategy has been, for a long time, to try and create standards that work on any web browser, regardless of OS, much like HTML itself.  This is why they invented Flash as a means to deliver multi-media content to any machine via a web browser. The PDF follows the same philosophy:  Wrote a document for your organization but worried the Mac/Linux users coming to your site won't be able to open it?  Save it as a PDF!  They can download a free plug-in for their browser and they can read it.

At the end of the day though, from a technical standpoint, a PDF is, basically, an image. Sometimes it's an image with vector-rendered text over it.  Sometimes its an image with input form fields.  This tool probably just takes this image in some sort of editor they threw together and, when you save it, it saves a new PDF based on your output, since the PDF standard is open enough (or perhaps hacked?) that other people can write programs that save to the format, and has been for a while (see case in point, the free PDF writer, cutePDF). Adobe writer makes its money from giving you the power to add features to your PDF and controlling the file standard itself - but other people have made a business out of providing features PDF normally doesn't allow for a while.  It doesn't surprise me you found a PDF editor, but it also doesn't sound like this PDF editor's job is to allow you take an official press release PDF from Microsoft and change the text to make it sounded like they said they hate all children and will use their bones to make 1,000,000 additional Xbox Ones at launch.

Does that answer your question? I wasn't entirely clear what it was you were looking for.

 

This post was edited by machvergil on June 20, 2013, 10:32 am


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#2: 06-20-2013 @ 07:41:36 am
Link to this Post: http://www.machvergil.com/gamenight/messages.php?go=5878#5878

BountyHunterSAxBountyHunterSAx

  • Real Name:Ahmad Rasheed
  • Joined:2011-06-29

It actually does - a lot, so thanks :)!

And yeah, the reason it's not clear what I'm asking is because I don't actually know myself. I guess, heretofore, if someone had asked me "What's a bmp?" I could tell them. "What's a PNG?" no problem. "Why is JPG different?" again, I've got this. My understanding of doc/docx and PDF was based on mutability. But if it's more a matter of one having been a proprietary format and the other being an open standard, that makes more sense.

Time to go 'hack a PDF' :).

-AHMAD


#3: 06-20-2013 @ 08:06:59 am
Link to this Post: http://www.machvergil.com/gamenight/messages.php?go=5880#5880

MachVergilMachVergil

MachVergil Photo.
  • Real Name:Adam
  • Joined:2010-01-22

Just for the sake of being technically correct (the best kind of correct) the PDF is NOT an open standard.  It still belongs to Adobe.  Its just that Adobe released the specifications of the format for free and I guess has been since 1993.  So Adobe owns it, but they don't care if you play with it (source)


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