Ideas for interoperable self-updating PDF documents

One criticism that is commonly levelled at PDF is that when looking at a PDF document, the user generally has no easy way of knowing whether the document they’re looking at is current or not.

While this isn’t an issue when browsing the web, it can be problematic for users viewing previously downloaded documents.

Technical documentation, regulatory guidance, academic preprints, … These are only a few examples in which being a few versions behind can matter a great deal. Besides traditional versioning, one could also imagine PDF form data and annotations being propagated in similar ways.

There already exist proprietary solutions that accomplish some or all of these goals, but a truly universal solution would of course have to be standardized. This got us thinking: what would an interoperable versioning & updating mechanism for PDF look like?

That already leads to a number of interesting questions:

  • To what degree can we leverage existing technologies?
  • What are the security implications?
  • How do we reconcile this with the “PDF as a permanent record” paradigm?

Join our session to hear our thoughts on these topics and see some of these ideas in action.