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Difference Between PDF and CDF

pdfPDF vs. CDF

Portable Document Format (also known as PDF) is a generic term that is mostly associated with Adobe PDF. Adobe PDF represents two dimensional documents in a way that allows them to be changed independent of software, hardware, and operating system of the application. Each file is comprised of all the features of any fixed layout 2D document, including text, fonts, images, and 2D vector graphics –the newest permutation of Adobe PDF includes the ability to embed 3D drawings in the document with the use of Acrobat 3D (using U3D or PRC).

Compound Document Format (also known as CDF) is a document file format that is electronic. It was developed by the W3C. The W3C is the World Wide Web Consortium. It is the main international standards organisation that was put in use specifically to run the World Wide Web (or, simply the internet). It was created to ensure that industry members had compatibility and agreement in the inception of new standards –thusly, the creation of CDF as an electronic document file. CDF contains a wide range of formats that include, but are not limited to SVG, XHTML, SMIL, and XForms.

Adobe PDF is a royalty free software that allows users to read and write PDF files without having to pay anything to Adobe itself –who holds the patents to the PDF software. There are three specific technologies used in the running of the PDF format: a subset of PostScript programming language, used for generating the layout and the graphics; a font embedding (or replacement) system, which allows fonts to travel with the documents; and a structured storage system, used to bundle all the elements and associated content into a single file (with data compression wherever it is necessary).

The OpenDocument Foundation previously supported the OpenDocument Format (or ODF). This foundation has since changed its alliances and has started the active promotion of the CDF. The OpenDocument Foundation was founded in 2002 as a means to promote open standards based XML or RDF document formats for use specifically with desktop computers. As of 11 November 2007, the official website for the OpenDocument foundation has been shut down –this is probably a signifier that the foundation itself is being shut down. As it relates to the CDF format, it is still the primary format being promoted by the foundation as it still stands.


1. Adobe PDF represents a two dimensional document in a way that allows it to be changed independent of its software, hardware, or operating system; CDF is an electronic document file format developed by the W3C.

2. Adobe PDF uses three technologies to run the PDF format: PostScript, a font embedding system, and a structured storage system; CDF is backed by the OpenDocument Foundation and supports many formats including SVG, XHTML, and XForms.

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