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The official guide to the Portable Document Format.

This book details the most current specification of Adobe Systems' Portable Document Format (PDF), the de facto standard for electronic information exchange. PDF enables documents created on any platform or with any application to be reliably viewed and printed anywhere. More than 200 million copies of the PDF-based Adobe Acrobat Reader application have been distributed around the world.

Updated and expanded specifically to document the new features of PDF 1.4, as incorporated into Acrobat 5.0 and Adobe's products for Network Publishing, the book introduces and explains all key aspects of the PDF format, including the Adobe imaging model and the relationship of PDF to the PostScript page description language and PDF architecture, syntax, graphics operators, fonts, and rendering. In addition, the book looks in depth at PDF's sophisticated interactive and document interchange features.

New to this edition is in-depth coverage of the new transparent imaging model, which allows text, images, and graphics to be painted with varying degrees of opacity. Other key topics covered include:

  • Tagged PDF for image and text recovery, search and indexing, and conversion to RTF, HTML, or even speech
  • Advanced JBIG2 image compression support
  • Improvements to bookmarking and annotations
  • Accessibility of content to those with disabilities
  • Enhancements to interactive forms, such as multiple-selection list boxes, XML form submissions, remote collaboration, and digital signatures
  • Metadata streams, a new metadata architecture

Comprehensive, authoritative, and up-to-date, PDF Reference, Third Edition is anessential resource for all developers writing programs that read or generate PDF files, and for any professional working with PDF in business, prepress, graphic design, or other applications.


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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
Intended for developers and programmers, this guide to Adobe Systems' Portable Document Format (PDF) details the current specification of the application. It introduces and explains the major aspects of the PDF format, including the imaging model, architecture, syntax, graphics, operators, fonts, and rendering. Twelve pages of color illustrations demonstrate key applications. A companion CD-ROM contains the text in PDF. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780201758399
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley
  • Publication date: 12/28/2001
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 976
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Adobe Systems Incorporated, founded in 1982, is a leading provider of graphic design, publishing, and imaging software for Web and print production, and the second-largest desktop software company in the world. The company builds award-winning software solutions for Web and graphic designers, professional publishers, document-intensive organizations, business users, and consumers.

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction.

About This Book.
Introduction to PDF 1.4 Features.
Related Publications.
Intellectual Property.

2. Overview.

Imaging Model.
Other General Properties.
Using PDF.
PDF and the PostScript Language.

3. Syntax.

Lexical Conventions.
File Structure.
Document Structure.
Content Streams and Resources.
Common Data Structures.
File Specifications.

4. Graphics.

Graphics Objects.
Coordinate Systems.
Graphics State.
Path Construction and Painting.
Color Spaces.
External Objects.
Form XObjects.
PostScript XObjects.

5. Text.

Organization and Use of Fonts.
Text State Parameters and Operators.
Text Objects.
Introduction to Font Data Structures.
Simple Fonts.
Composite Fonts.
Font Descriptors.
Embedded Font Programs.
ToUnicode CMaps.

6. Rendering.

CIE-Based Color to Device Color.
Conversions among Device Color Spaces.
Transfer Functions.
Scan Conversion Details.

7. Transparency.

Overview of Transparency.
Basic Compositing Computations.
Transparency Groups.
Soft Masks.
Specifying Transparency in PDF.
Color Space and Rendering Issues.

8. Interactive Features.

Viewer Preferences.
Document-Level Navigation.
Page-Level Navigation.
Interactive Forms.

9. Document Interchange.

Procedure Sets.
File Identifiers.
Page-Piece Dictionaries.
Marked Content.
Logical Structure.
Tagged PDF.
Accessibility Support.
Web Capture.
Prepress Support.

Appendix A. Operator Summary.
Appendix B. Operators in Type 4 Functions.

Arithmetic Operators.
Relational, Boolean, and Bitwise Operators.
Conditional Operators.
Stack Operators.

Appendix C. Implementation Limits.

General Implementation Limits.
Implementation Limits Affecting Web Capture.

Appendix D. Character Sets and Encodings.

Latin Character Set and Encodings.
Expert Set and MacExpertEncoding.
Symbol Set and Encoding.
ZapfDingbats Set and Encoding.

Appendix E. PDF Name Registry.
Appendix F. Linearized PDF.

Background and Assumptions.
Linearized PDF Document Structure.
Hint Tables.
Access Strategies.

Appendix G. Example PDF Files.

Minimal PDF File.
Simple Text String Example.
Simple Graphics Example.
Page Tree Example.
Outline Hierarchy Example.
Updating Example.

Appendix H. Compatibility and Implementation Notes.

PDF Version Numbers.
Feature Compatibility.
Implementation Notes.


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The origins of the Portable Document Format and the Adobe(R) Acrobat(R) product family date to early 1990. At that time, the PostScript(R) page description language was rapidly becoming the worldwide standard for the production of the printed page. PDF builds on the PostScript page description language by layering a document structure and interactive navigation features on PostScript's underlying imaging model, providing a convenient, efficient mechanism enabling documents to be reliably viewed and printed anywhere.

The PDF specification was first published at the same time the first Acrobat products were introduced in 1993. Since then, updated versions of the specification have been and continue to be available from Adobe via the World Wide Web. This book is the third professionally published edition of the specification. Like its predecessor, it is completely self-contained, including the precise documentation of the underlying imaging model from PostScript along with the PDF-specific features that are combined in version 1.4 of the PDF standard.

Over the past eight years, aided by the explosive growth of the Internet, PDF has become the de facto standard for the electronic exchange of documents. Well over 200 million copies of the free Acrobat Reader(R) application have been distributed around the world, facilitating efficient sharing of digital content. In addition, PDF is now the industry standard for the intermediate representation of printed material in electronic prepress systems for conventional printing applications. As major corporations, government agencies, and educational institutions streamline their operations by replacing paper-based workflow withelectronic exchange of information, the impact and opportunity for the application of PDF will continue to grow at a rapid pace.

PDF is the file format that underlies Adobe ePaper(R) Solutions, a family of products supporting Adobe's vision for Network Publishing—the process of creating, managing, and accessing digital content on diverse platforms and devices. ePaper fulfills a set of requirements related to business process needs for the global desktop user, including:

  • Preservation of document fidelity across the enterprise, independently of the device, platform, and software
  • Merging of content from diverse sources—Web sites, word processing and spreadsheet programs, scanned documents, photos, and graphics—into one self-contained document while maintaining the integrity of all original source documents
  • Real-time collaborative editing of documents from multiple locations or platforms
  • Digital signatures to certify authenticity
  • Security and permissions to allow the creator to retain control of the document and associated rights
  • Accessibility of content to those with disabilities
  • Extraction and reuse of content using other file formats and applications

A significant number of third-party developers and systems integrators offer customized enhancements and extensions to Adobe's core family of products. Adobe publishes the PDF specification in order to encourage the development of such third-party applications.

The emergence of PDF as a standard for electronic information exchange is the result of concerted effort by many individuals in both the private and public sectors. dedication of Adobe employees, our industry partners, and our customers, the widespread acceptance of PDF could not have been achieved. We thank all of you for your continuing support and creative contributions to the success of PDF.

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