PDF 2.0 Examples and Compatibility Notes

After nine long years of work, PDF 2.0 is available! For all who are interested in all the updates and changes, I’ll refer you to Duff Johnson’s excellent post over at the PDF Association website.
One of the things we’ve been asked often is whether PDF 2.0 is a different file format from PDF 1.7 or earlier formats. While technically they are different formats, in actuality, all those who developed PDF 2.0 put a strong emphasis on maintaining as much compatibility with PDF 1.7-aware systems as possible. Many PDF 2.0 files will function in PDF viewers that are not aware of PDF 2.0, albeit these PDF viewers will be unlikely to take advantage of the new features and capabilities of PDF 2.0.

PDF 2.0 Examples

Datalogics is happy to announce our donation of an initial set of example PDF 2.0 files to the PDF Association. We’re proud to help the PDF Association in the mission of providing technical resources and education to PDF practitioners. This set will be maintained by the PDF Association and provided under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. That is to say, you’ll be free to use and modify these files without any restriction other than giving credit to the PDF Association; and if you redistribute these you must do so under no more restrictive terms. See the PDF Association announcement for more details about the legal stuff.
For this article, I want to talk a bit about the technical side of these samples. If you open these example PDFs in Adobe Reader or Acrobat, you’ll get a warning about version incompatibility – but then you’ll see a perfectly useful view of the PDF. If you open these examples in a text editor, you’ll see these are specially constructed to be readable by PDF developers without further tools. These example PDF files will look very much like PDF 1.7 files, because of how compatible PDF 2.0 is with earlier versions of PDF. In fact, if you don’t read the comments within the PDF files, you might have a hard time seeing any differences at all!
We encourage you to take a “look inside” PDF with these examples. These PDFs are specially constructed to be readable even to those who aren’t yet PDF experts, and are based in part on PDFs we have built for our own in-house educational programs. Have a peek at what goes on under the PDF hood – we hope you come away with a better understanding of how PDF works. More importantly, we hope you’re able to see just how similar PDF 2.0 is to the PDF you already know and love.

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3 thoughts on “PDF 2.0 Examples and Compatibility Notes”

  1. Very useful examples! I am currently learning the PDF 2.0 ropes and was wondering if you had any other examples or know where to get/create any? I am looking for any 2.0 PDFs with inline images or have an unencrypted wrapper document.

    1. Jacky, I’m not aware of any freely available PDF 2.0 example files with inline images or unencrypted wrapper documents. There may be some in commercial test suites for purchase. The PDF 2.0 examples we provided through the PDF Association, all those are files we created from scratch using a hex editor & text editor. Of course, if you wanted to try creating and example we’d be happy to help proof it if you submit it as a pull request to the github repository.
      – Matt

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