PDF, or Portable Document Format is a file format developed by Adobe in the 1990s to present documents, including text formatting and images, in a manner independent of application software, hardware, and operating systems. Based on the PostScript language, each PDF file encapsulates a complete description of a fixed-layout flat document, including the text, fonts, vector graphics, raster images and other information needed to display it. PDF was standardized as an open format, ISO 32000, in 2008, and no longer requires any royalties for its implementation.

pdf documents, files with a pdf format are widely used on the internet.

The legacy of pdf documents is undisputed. Their contributions to progress in information sharing and the electronic publication of both scholarly and general interest content cannot be overestimated.


In spite of the enormous benefits for knowledge sharing that come with the pdf format, there are still improvements possible when it comes to providing improved access to content:

  1. A first improvement is a broader adoption of "bookmarks" inside pdf documents. For instance the pdf document that defines the Central Product Classification (CPC) Version 2.1 doesn't have bookmarks. This considerably complicates understanding structure and finding information in a 618 page document…
  2. Even if one is interested in only one paragraph of a pdf document, the pdf file must be downloaded entirely, often megabytes.
  3. Pdf documents enforce an "entrenched" authors' attitude1 of producing works that must be acquired, accessed and read, as a whole (see also Print book or article. The resulting documents typically include a lot of (probably) unnecessary replicated and repeated content, served with a tiny layer of "original contribution".

The beforementioned improvement goals, and awareness of the "diseconomies amplified" by pdf documents, have inspired the #pdf2wiki conversion skill and services.

Quality content that is in the Public Domain — or in grey areas that are adjacent to it, as captured in (lengthy) pdf documents — is converted into information-centric wiki pages such as #cpc32 - Pulp, paper and paper products; printed matter and related articles. Each such page has features such as:

  • breadcrumbs (above the page's content), and
  • the tabs "Child items" and "Sibling items" (under the page's content).

As print books and articles, pdf documents are durable content actants, par excellence. This durability aspect implies that they must trail wiki pages in situations that need a more interactive way of knowledge sharing and growth.