PDF Is Not An Open Or Reusable Format

Yes, I'm looking at you.

Note: Curriki gets bonus points for having the most convoluted search strings.


I understand the reusable part but not the open.


I'd say that PDFs are open in name only.

While the standard is available (and a real bargain at just under $400 US at the link above), using PDFs is an unnecessarily limited format to use for data.

Given other open formats, the ease with which they can be created, and their superiority for reuse, I have a difficult time understanding why someone creating "open" content would encumber that content within a PDF.

With Writing Spaces, Bill, I would loosely guess that we probably spend at least 50 human hours in prepping the manuscript for InDesign, formatting the manuscript in InDesign, and final proofing and correcting. At that point, we have used the publishing industry standard tool for creating a document ready for print (there is no better), and we send off a PDF to the printer. It's only five more minutes to adjust the PDF output for a version for sharing on the web. On the other hand, InDesign doesn't export a text well in any other format. So to then produce a different version of the manuscript means a lot more time. So I suspect in some instances that people are preparing texts in desktop publishing and PDF is the optimal solution for sharing what is produced.

Recently, our publisher attended a webinar by O'Reilly Media where they discussed how time consuming it has been for them to design XML templates and style sheets so that they can output their texts for various media. So from a publishing standpoint, it's not a trivial issue to work in other formats when the goal is to produce print versions.

I'm have pretty much a hard time converting or doing anything more to what the PDF is. Although there are a lot of publishers who release e-books and convert them into .pdf files. They're pretty usable to them but not to the a lot of people.

What would happen if you bypassed InDesign?

I'm thinking of something along the lines of BookBrewer.

And hey, if the Chronicle of Higher Ed is writing about it, it almost has to be yesterday's news ;).

There are converters available over internet where you can convert any files into PDF and vise versa.

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