Saturday, February 03, 2007

Wow, things are really heating up in the standards arena in the past two weeks!

I think one of the saddest things I hear in the blogs is that people are thinking that Adobe is suddenly become interested in standards because they are reading about Microsoft XPS and OpenOffice XML (OpenXML) in the news and think Adobe has to somehow respond. The fact is that Adobe has been very active and proactive in this space for many years.

Here is a time line - click over this great graphic (thanks to Adobes Leonard Rosenthol) to review this;

Most people did not pay much attention when Adobe submitted Acrobat version 1.0 (PDF specification 1.0) to the IRS in 1993 - suddenly all Federal IRS forms were PDF, quickly followed by the States. When Big Brother adopts something, it becomes a defacto standard!

In my not too distant past, I worked for Actien-Gesellschaft für Anilin-Fabrikation (AGFA) as a consultant - AGFA was an Adobe vendor / partner, where we were using and promoting proprietary / secret sauce technology in our “standard” based ICC profiles and our AGFA “value added” PDF files. AGFA (who was owned by BAYER) was much larger than Adobe. It was Adobe that helped us implement PDF/X and helped us toward to embrace standards.

There has been a lot of "XPS vs PDF" noise lately on the blogs. I have recieved a lot of email asking what I think, having held the title "PDF Evangelist" while with AGFA and Enfocus. So - my thoughts - If XPS main thrust was to be a replacement of PDF as an exchangeable digital document file format, one could argue that XPS is irrelevant and unnecessary, as well as point out that Microsoft is too FAR behind PDF deployment wise. However, Microsoft is using this for a spool file and a printer page description language - So Vista will use XPS to print for the three core Microsoft applications (Word, Excel and PowerPoint) thereby eliminating the need for "Adobe anything" when printing to XPS RIPs inside future desktop printer ors network enabled printer. Me, I had always thought this was much less about replacing PDF and more about Microsoft removing Adobe from the document creation and printing equation. As for submitting XPS to a standards body, sorry, but having participated with CGATS, we were more interested in telling a vendor what we needed, and not the least interested in being blind sided by some document that was glad handed to us as the answer to some question we never proposed. Handing XPS to a standards body is like handing Sonny Barger a thong - He won't be interested in it – and it probably won't fit anyway.