RE: PDF's usefulness to the semantic web

I am an amateur in this game, but there is one consideration that needs to
be emphasised in this extremely useful discussion:  does the end user
(citizens of country X) or government agency involved care to this level of
depth what the standards source is?


Almost certainly no.


So my short contribution is that the answer to this fascinating debate is
that it should be answered from a user perspective.  Will they see pdf files
& forms & other widely used formats, including OOXML, in an eGov
environment?  Certainly.  Should we provide guidance on that to eGov service
providers in this document?  My own view is yes because our document won’t
be as useful to the wider world as it otherwise might be.


For example, we are in a debate in Australia right now on the use of pdf
smartforms in a government deployment.  One of the big issues is ‘is it safe
to play?’ from a citizen perspective, ie who is able to see the data I have
just entered in the form?  AND the answer turns out to be less than simple:
an active strategy is needed before the answer can be an ‘almost yes’.  I
suspect that guidance on this (both the need to consider such issues & how
to do so) would be appreciated by our audience.


Malcolm Crompton


From: []
On Behalf Of Dave McAllister
Sent: Wednesday, April 22, 2009 2:45 AM
To: Jose M. Alonso; Bobby Caudill
Cc: Owen Ambur; eGovernment Interest Group WG; Christopher Testa; Miguel
Ángel Amutio; John Sheridan
Subject: Re: PDF's usefulness to the semantic web


Well, let me express a few opinions here.

The concept of data on and to the web is a broad topic in its own right.
Does that “data” include audio?  Video?  How about existing documents that
should be readily available. 

Data (on and to the web) seems to fall into rough groupings (in a non
technical way) of static (not accessible to be changed by the consumer, e.g
documents, video, audio, DigSig), dynamic (able to be changed, including
forms) and conversational (active feedback and exchange, both sync and

W3C does not cover the myriad of data formats that have proliferated on the
web since the original days of hypertext (emphasis on text). 

Technically, you are correct in that the data formats of PDF are not “web”
standards.  However, the use cases for such technologies in implementation
is that they appear in a browser or web environment and as such should be
considered in best practices. Forms (and there are dozens of form standards)
are also separable from web standards; should we equally ignore them?   Ask
the average consumer whose browser opens a PDF file within the browser
confines whether it is a Web standard; I’d postulate that they neither know
nor care. 

My issue is not to identify the specific SDOs at this point, though I
believe that a widespread mission and charter should include such
recognition. W3C has an interesting set of standards, but how about IETF,
OASIS, DigSig in ETSI?   Where do those fit into this.

For instance, referencing point 4, while PDFs may be ISO, they are
controlled under AIIM.  I think we do have some level of connection to AIIM,
so should we include them because of that? 

The short point is that the document should at least recognize the existence
and use of standards for data, even though they are not W3C standards. Given
the attention that the current US administration may have placed on this
document in implying that it will be the vehicle for industry input, it
behooves us to make sure what we produce does not set up unfair trade
practices in its own right. (ref: OSTP, New Media Office)

As such, the “industry input” that I have to consider for Adobe is that
negative references to existing standards should then be equally removed.


On 4/21/09 1:19 AM, "Jose M. Alonso" <> wrote:

Dave, Bobby,

I think we are talking about ISSUE-18 again here, what standards 
besides W3C's should be added to the document. Some comments about this.

I'm sure we all agree on the usefulness and heavy use in government of 
several standards beyond W3C's. Said that, here's my rational _not_ to 
include those you are referring to (and others).

1) This is W3C and the document is titled? "... of the Web" and I 
prefer to stick to Web standards for now. For me, e.g. PDF/A and OOXML 
are not Web standards but something you can link to from the Web, as 
you can link to a ZIP file. Not an expert in the field and welcome any 
additional info but quite sure we could discuss for hours and hours 
what is Web and what is not and we would probably have as many 
versions as group participants.

2) I would like to see the Web-related use cases to add this or any 
other technology and not adding them just for growing the list of 
standards referenced in the document.

3) Why add only ISO ones, why not IETF ones or others'?
As an example, I recently learned about the study for the catalogue of 
standards usable by governments here in Spain, and heard Miguel Amutio 
speak about it saying 400 coming from dozens of bodies were analyzed. 
Not to mention other similar initiatives such as the U.S. TRM.

4) We don't have a liaison with ISO and I would prefer this Group not 
to make interpretations on the use of standards developed by other 
organizations without discussing with them how they fit in our work.

Scoping the Group's work was a difficult challenge and I don't think 
that broadening the scope now that the charter is about expire makes 

I think we should disregard this for now but discuss it when 
developing the 2nd charter, see if we should work on a broader suite 
of standards, setup a liaison with more SDOs, etc.

One more comment, you mention:
> On reading the document several times, it seems uncleaqr if we are 
> focused on transient data and remunging such, on archival and 
> temporal validation of such.  I think this came through in some of 
> the discussions on socila media in the last telecon.

I wish we had some text in the "Long Term" section but we don't yet. 
There were former IG Members tasked to provide use cases on the 
differences you mention. I remember we were going to get a use case on 
"Temporal Data" but unfortunately that didn't happen.

Sticking to the Web standards part above, I think that section was 
intended to talk about "Web Archiving" and maybe the closest view is 
that of the draft use case John submitted a while ago --

-- Jose

El 09/04/2009, a las 21:41, Dave McAllister escribió:
> Actually, I think it important that we do recognize and extend to 
> relevant standards. PDF (as in ISO 32000) is such, as are PDF/A, PDF/
> E, PDF/X.  There are also best practices based on such , e.g.  PDF/
> Healthcare. PDF/UA is approaching such status as well.
> It is interesting to note that right now neither Mars nor XPS are  
> formal standards, though I suspect XPS will be approved in Ecma 
> shortly (as was OOXML for th starting point of that most painful 
> standard process.
> On reading the document several times, it seems uncleaqr if we are 
> focused on transient data and remunging such, on archival and 
> temporal validation of such.  I think this came through in some of 
> the discussions on socila media in the last telecon.
> Reworking the world from PDF (to which there are numous independent 
> implementations)seems counter intuitive in this best practices style.
> davemc
> On 4/9/09 11:47 AM, "Owen Ambur" <> wrote:
> If PDF is expressly referenced, so too should Adobe’s Mars Project 
> -- -- as well as XFDL --
>  -- and XPS:
> Owen Ambur
> Co-Chair Emeritus, xmlCoP <>
> Co-Chair, AIIM StratML Committee <>
> Member, AIIM iECM Committee
> >
> Invited Expert, W3C eGov IG <>
> Communications/Membership Director, FIRM Board
> >
> Former Project Manager, <>
> Brief Bio <>
> From: [
> ] On Behalf Of Bobby Caudill
> Sent: Wednesday, April 08, 2009 10:11 AM
> To:
> Subject: PDF's usefulness to the semantic web
> Calling out PDF specifically here should be reconsidered.
> >From a semantic web perspective, PDF is more useful than many other 
> formats, including graphics, imagery, audio and video, all of which 
> are very useful formats for government to consider when becoming 
> transparent. Given that documents are machine readable as well as 
> human readable, technologies do exist today that are capable of 
> extracting an ontology, making the information more useful to the 
> semantic web.
> In addition, there simply are times when a secure container is 
> required for publishing information. While typical internet 
> technologies, such as outlined above, are very good for sharing and 
> transparency, they are not necessarily always appropriate for 
> information types that require assurances of authenticity, privacy, 
> authoritativeness, etc.
> Further, is the requirement to archive PSI. Again, with 
> consideration that many government processes are document based, PDF/
> a (ISO 19005-1:2005) provides a standards based approach to ensuring 
> the long term preservation of government information. PDF/a based 
> documents are both machine readable, making them searchable, 
> discoverable and available to the same technologies as an ISO 3200 
> PDF to extract ontologies. Likewise, the standard’s based nature of 
> PDF/a ensures the ability to allow human access to the documents 
> into the future.
> I am concerned that this paper is limiting it's focus and not taking 
> into consideration the wider view of government processes, many of 
> which depend upon more traditional document formats for legitimate 
> business reasons.
> Thank you for the consideration.
> Bobby Caudill
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> Bobby Caudill
> Solution Architect, Global Government Solutions
> Adobe Systems Incorporated
> 8201 Greensboro Dr., # 1000
> McLean, VA 22102
> 703.883.2872 - Office
> 703.855.9945 – Mobile
> @BobbyCaudill – Twitter
> Bobby Caudill – Facebook
> - Blog
> --
> Dave McAllister
> Director, Standards and Open Source
> 650-523-4942 (GC)
> 408-536-3881 (Office)
> Dwmcallister (Skype, Aim, YIM)

Dave McAllister
Director, Standards and Open Source
650-523-4942 (GC)
408-536-3881 (Office)
Dwmcallister (Skype, Aim, YIM)

Received on Tuesday, 21 April 2009 20:31:27 UTC