The top reasons PDF hasn’t been replaced (yet)

PDF is as old as VHS tapes, but it hasn’t been replaced yet.  Here’s why. And a look at the future.

1. The PDF standard accommodates a wide range of uses

PDF is available in a variety of formats for specialized uses, including PDF/X for printing, PDF/A for document archiving, and PDF/E for engineering and technical documentation. These variations didn’t exist when PDF was first invented. They were developed to answer big market needs.

2. Alternative solutions just didn’t hold up

Over the years, many third-party providers released alternatives to PDF. The most notable was Microsoft XPS. It was first introduced for Windows Vista and was widely touted as a PDF killer, but it failed to win over an audience already familiar with PDF. Microsoft later released OpenXPS, though much like its predecessor, it also failed to gain traction. Much like Betamax compared to VHS, it wasn’t better enough than PDF to displace it.

3. PDF is an ISO standard

Adobe relinquished control of PDF to the International Organization for Standardization in 2008. The benefits are that PDF is no longer controlled by one company, and instead can be extended and advanced by a group of interested stakeholders that represent broad-based business needs, and a wide base of innovative companies.

4. PDF continues to evolve

PDF continues to remain relevant thanks in large part to innovative companies like Foxit. Foxit redefined what a free PDF “reader” was by adding annotation. And the rapid adoption of mobile devices drove Foxit to develop Foxit MobilePDF, making PDF use on mobile devices more user friendly than ever. It also gives consumers a cost-effective alternative to Adobe. Furthermore, PDF solutions like Foxit PDF Toolkit provided a more versatile experience, including functions like batch conversion of Word to PDF and converting a webpage to PDF.

Bottom line: PDF’s evolution extends well beyond Adobe. Third-party providers have jumped into the innovation forefront by extending PDF’s capabilities, and therefore it’s lifetime.

What’s next?

To understand what needs to happen next with PDF, just look at the problems with the current state of affairs: We suffer from document deluge in an era of content commerce. Who among us has not spent too much time looking for the latest version of a document? Who hasn’t sent a document to the wrong recipient? How effectively do you pass around proposals, press releases, contracts, and position papers?

We are connected to our family members through Find My iPhone, connected to our houses through our Nest thermostats, even connected to our pets through microchips. We run our lives and businesses on documents and we’ve lost connection with them. This is the problem that Foxit ConnectedPDF™ will solve. It is yet another extension to the PDF standard, another innovation from Foxit, and another reason PDF will last another ten years—at least.

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