comp.text.pdf FAQ

-Section 3-

3.0 What is PDF?

PDF, or the Portable Document Format, is an object-oriented file structure based on a subset of Adobe PostScript commands. In otherwords, the file is broken down into simple objects (e.g., document,page, annotation, etc.). The file is recognized by MIME asapplication/pdf. (MIME stands for Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions and is documented in RFC 1521, for those interested. A subset of this specification is used by the World Wide Web to distribute documents.)

3.1 How do I view a PDF document?

There are several ways to view a PDF document. One is to go to and download their free Acrobat Reader. After installation of the Reader, you will be able to view PDF files. Alternatively, you may also download Aladdin's Ghostscript which allows you to view both PDF and PostScript files. You usually can find Ghostscript via . Finally, there is a "clone" viewer available at .

3.2 How do I create a PDF?

For Adobe's products, see section 2.2 above. However, I believe the newly released GhostScript 4.0 has a Distiller-like function, and Zeon has a "Distiller" available on their site (See section 3.1).

3.3 Is the PDF file specification published?

Yes, the PDF 1.0 spec is published as the "Portable Document FormatReference Manual" (Tim Bienz and Richard Cohn. Adobe SystemsIncoroporated. 1993. Addison-Wesley Publishing Company. ISBN0-201-62628-4). This document is available as PDF from and

The PDF 1.1 spec is an errata and available in PDF in Adobe's technote section of their website (

3.3.1 Where can I get it?

The book can usually be purchased from your local bookstore. If they don't have it, they should be able to special order it.

3.4 Can I edit a PDF document?

Before this question is answered, a quick backgrounder is appropriate:

The PDF format was designed to deliver exact copies of documents much like paper. This, of course, means that PDF was not designed to be edited. However, as time has passed some tools for editing PDF have been produced. You can consider PDF a word processing format which no longer contains information like styles, and paragraphs. If at all possible, obtain the original document for editing. If, however, your goal is to use some of the special features (e.g, interactivity, forms filling) available through these PDF editing products then see below.

Adobe Illustrator for the Macintosh v5.5 and higher allows for page-at-a-time PDF editing. The PDF file is actually edited graphically, so do not expect advanced layout features. Also, text can be added to documents as field text via the VerTec Solutions' TranZform plug-in, and general text can be added through The Plug-In Shop, Ltd.'s BannerPrint and Volume Builder. Others may be available as well.

3.5 How do I save an "X" document in PDF?

Besides Illustrator, no other app currently supports saving a documentas PDF. However, you can either print to PostScript and run thePostScript file through Distiller, or print to PDFWriter.

3.6 How do I open a PDF document in application "X"?

Unless X= Illustrator, or an Acrobat, or Acrobat-clone product, you cannot.

3.7 How do I import a PDF document into application "X"?

Currently, no applications allow for PDF import.

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