MARS - still seeking public input
Joel Geraci, Acrobat Technical Evangelist for Adobe, has commented on a previous post-
We are continuing to develop the Mars technology but it is still in a prerelease stage and are still actively seeking public input.
A new version of the Mars plug-in that supports Acrobat 9 and Reader 9 will be available soon.
This is very welcome but I am puzzled why there is not more interest in this. Maybe many people have moved on to Flash etc. and I am living in the past. Still, from the two Seybold conferences held in Amsterdam I can remember much interest in XML and PDF. The keynote by David Brailsford outlined some of the benefits of improved connections.
However, doing some searching found this from a 2001 interview with John Warnock
Zipper: There's a discussion at the moment about the technical future of PDF, and there's a close connection to XML. So I have to ask: Shouldn't PDF be totally encoded in XML? Do you see a chance for that?
Warnock: I don't see why. We have done all of the technical due diligence and, clearly, you can code PDF into XML. Does that make it easier to make an implementation? Not really. Does it add value in terms of file size? No, it probably costs file size. Could you have a single-threaded, hierarchically structured XML document that's a PDF file? Never, because the graphics rendering and the logical organization of a document sometimes are orthogonal.
So you have to have a structure for the graphics and a structure for the logical organization of the document, and when you have two trees and they have to point to each other, the XML syntax doesn't help you in any way.
We've gone through that discussion and we've asked, of what benefit is it to the user for this all to be in XML? Does it make any part of the problem easier? And the answer comes back, no. Does it add any value? Well, yes; you can say, "It's all in XML." But so what? The only benefit that may have would be a marketing benefit.
So maybe there never was an intention to be "XML friendly" with PDF. It still seems a good idea to me. How hard is it to take XML sources and create PDF? My impression is that such things are possible but not as easy as it could be.
As a blogger there is some basis for asking questions. So at the Futures conference the LCC organise alongside Total Print I will try to find out what people think about PDF and XML. the Online Information show is another occasion when there is a panel about publishing. Adobe will not be there, but PDf is a topic. My guess is that most people there still think about information with a print analogy in mind. So XML to PDF could be a large proportion of what is of interest.