Adobe Acrobat keeps on truckin'

Ebook and web evangelists have plenty of unpleasant things to say about Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF). They say it is proprietary, a semi-closed system and antithetical to the freewheeling nature of the web. This is partially true (though PDF documents can be viewed via plugins in most browsers). Yet PDFs are a peerless way of preserving the intricacies of a print design layout for other viewers (without adding an extra layer of cost). The PDF carries with it typefaces and graphics and recreates the original design on other machines with almost perfect fidelity. The postscript language used by PDFs is the universal language of printers the world over. It is true that for web purposes, html5 would be a friendlier and more open road. Combined with new font hosting services, web designers may be able to assemble typographically sophisticated documents that display equally well on all browsers and for all users. Even the rather clumsy ebook formats may become more graphically capable. For the moment, however, PDFs remain the format of choice for print designers wanting to put content online without using code.