PDF document format has maintained stable growth while the competing formats have not passed the test of time and progress. Moreover, PDF is very likely to keep its popularity and usefulness for at least the next 25 years.
PDFs are secure, have versatile functionality, support access permissions, and look equally good online and printed. They are also easy to convert from and to different formats, which boosts software interoperability important in paperless offices. These are just a few reasons for PDF to remain the top paperless solution for modern enterprises and offices.
In the article, we will go the way from the first PDFs to today. You will learn the role of the PDF and ways of organizing a seamless digital document management process for your business.
The History of PDF as a Digital Document Format
We can't overestimate the role of PDF in tech evolution. The Portable Document Format, which PDF stands for, exists to replicate paper by digital documents. Though the tech environment is developing towards live connection, video conferencing, and face recognition, the annual quantity of PDF files is constantly increasing. There are trillions of PDFs out there.
John Warnock invented the digital document format while working on Adobe company's iconic products Photoshop and Illustrator. The Camelot project was the first attempt to create what we now know as the PDF format.
On the official sources, Adobe formulates the PDF digital document format's goal like following: "exchange information between machines, between systems, between users in a way that ensured that the file would look the same everywhere it went." This meant creating "a digital interchange format that preserved author intent," says David Parmenter, director of engineering for Adobe Document Cloud, "which is, at a high level, what a PDF tries to do."
But there will be no mistake in the more straightforward explanation: PDF's primary purpose is to replace the old-fashioned paper with digital documents and simplify the operations with the files.
In 1990, PDF withstood serious competition among other products with the same ambitions. But DjVu, Envoy, and Common Ground Digital Paper faded into oblivion while PDF remained and stood out for its versatility.
As time went by, PDF creators have enriched the format with additional capabilities that have only strengthened its dominance. It has started to support new visual elements, digital signatures, embedded multimedia, and security safeguards. With each new version, PDF has become more and more powerful. Now, it’s becoming the core paperless format.
Why Businesses Should Focus on PDF to Go Paperless
PDF rendering and using PDF files in digital document management have many advantages for modern business. No wonder companies use it widely and will not abandon PDF for at least the next couple of decades.
PDF is a secure format
Due to its built-in security, PDF deserved the trust to keep sensitive customer information. It's a format of choice for banking, insurance, medical documentation, and other industries where information security is essential.
Read More About Top 5 Industries That Need PDF Rendering
The ease of use
It's simple to create digital documents in any free application and combine them with other file types. All the users will see the document as intended, no matter what devices they use. Besides, you can generate PDFs from almost any source format and vice versa. You can use online PDF generators to convert a single file or fully automate the process if you need to process PDFs continuously.
This unique capability enables paperless document management. E-signature is as legally binding as hand-writing, and in many cases, it is much more convenient. The close rate of businesses can rise significantly due to the faster processing, so it is the most beneficial feature of the digital document format.
Control and visibility
We can always track changes in the PDF document, and it's the sole read-only file format that one can't alter and leave unnoticed. This feature makes PDFs the most reliable files for collaboration.
Document management regulatory compliance
Since PDFs track changes and are secure, they are suitable for record-keeping. When a business stores its documents and customer communications in PDF, it can quickly achieve compliance. Moreover, after getting the ISO standard certificate, the modern PDF format meets the following five sets of specifications:
- PDF/X. The X stands for eXchange, and the purpose of the digital document format set is its use in the print industry. Specializing in assuring that a document will print as it looks on screen is the key differentiator of the specification. It pays attention to fonts, color, images, etc.
- PDF/A (Archiving). Its purpose is in the definition. While being adopted over other digital document formats, PDF/A assures usability of the document over time, not depending on other resources.
- PDF/E. E is for Engineering, and the standard defines a format for digital document creation. Engineers use PDF/E in the workflow. It is a subset of PDF, an open and neutral format that suits tech documentation perfectly.
- PDF/UA (Universal Access). Universal accessible PDFs can give information on how to read digital documents to people with visual impairments. We use PDF/UA for screen readers.
- PDF/VT (Variable Transaction) leverages the PDF standard for variable data printing. The format integrates billing information with marketing information in digital documents like invoices.
Compliance with these standards guarantees that the PDF format will remain a secure and multifunctional option for businesses. Hence, the companies that have switched to PDF should have no trouble staying compliant in the future. Find out more about the future of PDF in the next section.
What’s the Future of the PDF Format? Ubiquity and Automated Rendering
In the future, we won’t have to worry about formats. Users will handle documents, just like people watch YouTube videos without taking care of its tech characteristics. To ensure such ubiquity, PDF will blend into applications and web services.
As the leading file format, PDF is likely to be chosen as a universal format for most applications. Hence, other documents will be automatically converted to PDF for a standardized user experience.
Since the demand for seamless document conversion will grow, software vendors will build PDF rendering functionality in their tools. By using APIs, they will add automated conversion as one of the features. Users won’t notice it. They will just see neat PDF documents on their screens.
Therefore, PDF rendering will be used to automatically generate paperless invoices, bills, late payment notices, and other customer communications across businesses.
The Easiest Way to Automatically Manage PDFs in the Paperless Future
To go through digital transformation and adopt paperless practices, every modern company needs seamless PDF file generation. Yet, it’s not always easy. PDF rendering implementation may be expensive and time-consuming unless you have the right software.
Inkit Render generates PDFs and other paperless file formats from HTML cutting the cost of development and maintenance. It also provides robust admin controls that enable organizations to track and retain records for reference and compliance.
By using technology from a secure, cloud-based partner, you can reduce the amount of time, energy, and money your organization spends regularly maintaining technology and storing your digital documents. PDF rendering is already optimizing multiple businesses and will remain essential in the future.