20110710-012500.jpgMarie Lebert’s review of the past forty years of ebooks continues over at Project Gutenberg News with eBooks: 1993 – PDF, from past to present. Lebert’s post focuses mainly on the timeline of the format’s evolution, so I heartily recommend you supplement it with Nate Hoffelder’s OMG PDF WTF at The Digital Reader, which highlights some of the format’s huge security issues.


  1. A plain vanilla PDF file by itself is not a vulnerability actually. That problem comes from the Adobe Reader software. If you open a typical PDF file in a third party reader or one of the many built in OS system programs that is only looking for text even if it has some type of trojan coding in it that code cannot function. It’s the Adobe Reader that is trying to use these latest non-text functions that opens up all the vulnerability. Stay away from Adobe reader and use the plain vanilla third party functions and you will stay safe.

  2. That’s a “review”? What about the initial competition Acrobat had with a WordPerfect version of a PDF format (WP didn’t promote it well, and it went directly to the history’s footnotes section without passing Go)? What about the initial versions and their head-butting with PostScript, their irregular capabilities when printing to various printing platforms, and their initial rejection by computer graphics users as being too buggy for serious production? What about mentioning the different PDF outputs, text and image, and their mixed successes over time? What about mentioning Adobe’s marketing and promotion machine for Acrobat, second only to Microsoft’s spreading of Windows in businesses, and perhaps Adobe’s own marketing of Photoshop and Illustrator over their competitors? That’s not a review; that’s the equivalent of saying about Mutiny on the Bounty: “Charles Laughton was in it, and it was very wet.”

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