Integrity is key
15 Sep 2017
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PDF translates to Portable Document Format, a format which holds document data and is meant to be portable (transferable, shareable) without the document’s structure and content being compromised. The format was created by Adobe Systems in around 1990s. Its specifications was released free of charge in 1993. Of course, the format begun as a proprietary format.
I remember pdf as a file that could only be opened by Adobe Acrobat, a memorable name along with a memorable icon, when i was a kid. Back then I don’t really understand its purpose and was quite confused on why we need another file format to display documents when we can readily use Office to view them. My thoughts of it remained the same for many years actually, until one day during high school I felt the itch to read more about the format on Wikipedia. I know, forgive my ignorance, please. 😶 Now that I suddenly had flashbacks after handling many pdf files earlier this week, I think writing an opinion on pdf as a way to share or print documents is a good idea.
The main emphasis and the trophy that pdf carries is it holds document data and structure in a way that is only readable and not editable by applications. This means the content of the documents, being it contains tables, custom fonts, images and what not, will be preserved like the way it is when it is exported from an application. When it is exported, the content (practically) will never be editable again, meaning that if you want to change something you will need to edit the original document and export a new pdf overwriting the old one.
The huge advantage is you will be a able to share the pdf without having to worry if the recipient would accidentally edit them, like one would when opening a document with Office tools. What I find really beneficial of this is if you use a different Office tools, like me who uses LibreOffice Writer instead of Microsoft Office Word, exporting a pdf instead of giving someone the
odt file will ensure that your document structure is intact.
Expanding on the previous point, if you use an older version of Office and then open a document which was created by a newer version, there are chances that your document may mess up in some way. In my experience, I once brought my retirement notice document to a local cyber cafe. I made the document with a Word 2016 at home, and the cafe uses Office 2010. To my surprise, when I opened the document, it seemed almost all of the whitespaces are gone! Dang and then I had to insert all those spaces back before printing it, which was a complete waste of time. If I had exported the document as a pdf beforehand, I could’ve easily avoid such an issue. and so do you.
Yes, I am aware that this might be one of the rare cases that would happen. Eventhough the document was modified with Word 2016, the original document was created with Word Online. Maybe the issue originates from there. Who knows. Either way, safe methods are always welcome, and exporting something to PDF doesn’t really take that much effort and time.
Given how the pdf specifications is open to everyone, and the age of the format itself, many applications can export content to pdf, and there are also a handful number of pdf readers aside from Acrobat itself. The release of the format as an open format in 2008 further enable great support from many applications, and the sheer size of this format makes it seems like a standard to the point where you can find books formatted in pdf. You can even “print” something to pdf and print the pdf file later on if you don’t have a printer (this is what I like the most of pdf).
A person do not even need to own an office tool or have to install it (which usually are huge in size) in order to view your pdf file and this is a very great accessibility for your document if you want to share it to many people at once.
With pdf containing untempered document structure, again, this makes viewing a single pdf the same in any applications you use. Gives a sense of uniformity and respects the original document that it was exported from.
So, back to the title of the entry, I really think pdf is better if not best way to share your documents to your friend, or for printing purposes. Since it preserves the structure, somebody else can view the document without it being incompatible, open it anywhere with a pdf reader, and even print it with the structure being intact. All of this with the huge integrity of your document.
Since I realise the power of such a format, I definitely have started to use it extensively in situation where I need to print or share a document. Of course, you and I will still need to share the original document file if the document is being worked as a collaboration. I see pdf as a way to share finalised documents that no longer needs to be edited. I mean yeah, logically that is what it is. 😬
I hope I shared something beneficial today. Thank you!
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