With Ever-Changing Technology, Will PDF Stay Relevant?
From its debut in 1996 to its demise at the end of 2020, Flash Player had a massive impact on the Internet. For a time, web design revolved around making websites based on Flash. Although its presence on the web had diminished significantly by the time it was officially discontinued, a large amount of content suddenly became inaccessible when support for Flash ended.
Considering the fate of Flash, professionals may be wary of becoming overly reliant on technologies and formats. The PDF is one such area of concern for many organizations. Only three years older than Flash, the PDF is still impressively common because of its uses. Will it stay relevant?
The facts say that PDF is likely here to stay—find out why.
Can PDF Be Replaced?
With the breakneck pace of technological development, it’s not hard to imagine that a new format might someday appear to take PDF’s place. Should that happen, businesses could face immense costs migrating critical data from PDF into a new format. Ultimately, the widespread use of PDF is one of the factors that defends the format.
With more than 2 trillion PDF documents in existence and billions of PDFs publicly available on the web, the ubiquity of the format lends it a degree of future-proofing. The PDF/A standard has been adopted by many organizations as their long-term archival solution for data storage. Combined with the fact that no competing formats have ever come close to achieving the same level of adoption as PDF, the format is likely here to stay.
More than ubiquity, PDF is protected by its longevity: unlike Flash, PDF still fulfills vital purposes for professionals.
PDF’s Versatility Makes It a Favorite in Business
From creating perfect-looking reports that print correctly every time to creating flyers, handouts, and more, businesses of every shape and size rely on PDFs daily. Some use the format to create sales catalogs and order sheets, while others use its fillable field capabilities to create easy-to-use digital forms as replacements for slow, hard-copy-based processes. With the right PDF software, it’s even possible to use the format in industries with complex needs for safeguarding information, such as in the healthcare and legal sectors. No other format offers the same level of flexibility for business users.
A Secure Document Format for the Future
The PDF format also provides users with security solutions that are easily accessible with the appropriate software tools. With support not only for AES-256 bit encryption but also public and private key cryptography and certificate-based security, PDF is already equipped for safety in an era where there are more than 1,000 data breaches every year. While Flash was notorious for its significant security holes, PDF continues to grow more secure over time.
Continuous Development Keeps PDF Relevant
When Flash reached its end-of-life phase, it hadn’t seen substantial improvements outside of security patches for many years. Behind the PDF file format is a working group of industry players and professional developers periodically updating the standard.
The most recent revision, PDF 2.0, was released in 2017 with an extensive array of new features and improvements. In early 2021, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) released a revised version of its digital document standards, which rely specifically on PDF.
The PDF format remains relevant not only because of its versatility in business and its rich security features, but also because it continues to adapt to changing needs. Although no one can predict the future of technology with certainty, all signs currently point to the humble PDF being here to stay.