Sustainability of Digital Formats: Planning for Library of Congress Collections

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PDF, Version 1.7, ExtensionLevel 3

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Format Description Properties Explanation of format description terms

Identification and description Explanation of format description terms

Full name PDF (Portable Document Format), version 1.7, ExtensionLevel 3

PDF (Portable Document Format), developed by Adobe Systems Incorporated, is described by Adobe as a general document representation language. PDF represents formatted, page-oriented documents. These documents may be structured or simple. They may contain text, images, graphics, and other multimedia content, such as video and audio. There is support for annotations, metadata, hypertext links, and bookmarks.

The original version 1.7 of the PDF format was released November 2006 and associated with Acrobat and Adobe Reader 8.0. Version 1.7 was published as ISO 32000-1 in July 2008.

ExtensionLevel 3 was published by Adobe in June 2008, in conjunction with the release of Acrobat 9.0. This ExtensionLevel will be incorporated into ExtensionLevel 5 and any future ExtensionLevels before a new BaseVersion is established through the ISO standardization process. It introduced support for substantial new functionality within PDF documents, including features in demand from the domains of architecture, engineering, and the geospatial community. These new features include: enforced viewer preferences, for example, to prevent inappropriate scaling of printouts; support for a new edition of ECMA-363 (Universal 3D File Format); support for embedding within PDF documents markup that supports information interchange of geospatial and 3D data associated with the document content. Also included in ExtensionLevel 3 are: support for rich media annotations (in particular, Flash video and some H.264 variants); support for a mechanism to save XML form data in PDF/A-2 conforming documents; support for specifying navigation display for a "portable" collection of documents using an SWF file; and enhancements to encryption and digital signature support.

Production phase In general, a final-state format for delivery to end users.
Relationship to other formats
    Subtype of PDF, Portable Document Format
    Extension of PDF_1_7, PDF, Version 1.7
    Has extension PDF_1_7_ext05, PDF, Version 1.7, ExtensionLevel 5
    May contain PDF_geospatial, PDF, Geospatial Encoding (Adobe)

Local use Explanation of format description terms

LC experience or existing holdings See PDF.
LC preference See PDF.

Sustainability factors Explanation of format description terms

Disclosure Published extension by Adobe Systems Incorporated to international standard, ISO 32000-1:2008.

Adobe Supplement to the ISO 32000, BaseVersion:1.7, ExtensionLevel:3, available at

ISO 32000-1:2008. Document management -- Portable document format -- Part 1: PDF 1.7. An equivalent document is PDF Reference, Sixth Edition, Version 1.7. November 2006. At

Adoption TBD
    Licensing and patents See PDF_1_7.
Transparency See PDF.
Self-documentation Version 1.4 and later of PDF can include XMP metadata packages. XMP is Adobe's framework for including arbitrary blocks of metadata, using a representation in RDF.
External dependencies See PDF_1_7.
Technical protection considerations See PDF.

Quality and functionality factors Explanation of format description terms

Normal rendering See PDF.
Integrity of document structure See PDF.
Integrity of layout and display See PDF.
Support for mathematics, formulae, etc. See PDF.
Functionality beyond normal rendering Annotations in video ("rich media") and 3D formats. Embedding of 3D measurement and markup important for transferring information in workflows for architecture, engineering, and construction. Embedding of geospatial measures for images (e.g. maps or satellite photos) and of structured data specifying the geographic coordinate system in use.

File type signifiers and format identifiers Explanation of format description terms

Tag Value Note
Filename extension pdf
See PDF.

Notes Explanation of format description terms

History PDF 1.7 was released in November 2006 in association with version 8 of Acrobat and Adobe Reader. In January 2007, Adobe announced the intention to pursue standardization through TC 171/SC 2 of ISO. This process led to publication as ISO 32000-1 in July 2008. With the release of Acrobat 9.0 in June 2008, Adobe published the specification of ExtensionLevel 3.

Format specifications Explanation of format description terms

Useful references


Last Updated: 02/27/2017