Understanding PDF Standards – PDF/E

In 2008, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) purchased the PDF format and opened up the standard, freeing it from its proprietary state. With this acquisition, new PDF standards were introduced as well. These standards became staples for all PDFs created in the future.

In total, ISO created three standards for the PDF format: PDF/A, PDF/X, and PDF/E. This article will have a closer look at the latter. 

The PDF/E Standard

This particular PDF standard serves the purpose of reducing the paper load in engineering, construction, manufacturing, and geospatial work. It’s easy to remember if you think of the “E” standing for engineering.

PDF/E is based on the Adobe PDF 1.6 version. It is optimized for its purpose since it allows advanced media to be included in the document, such as:

  • animation
  • 3D graphics
  • videos
  • interactive media

PDF/E documents are not allowed to contain links to external media, javascript code that is not associated with 3D objects, and any kind of dynamic form.

The Benefits Of Using PDF/E?

Using this engineering standard comes with certain advantages to aid and improve the workflow in this sector.

Using PDF/E, there is no need to use any extra program. Such programs often come with a price tag. Furthermore, they often produce documents in a proprietary format that is seldom compatible across different programs. PDF documents, however, open in many different programs and even normal web browsers. The ISO standard, in particular, ensures that all kinds of engineers can open, view and use the documents.

All media inside the PDF is self-contained which means that it doesn’t have to be sent separately alongside the document. Compared to paper, PDF also provide a cheaper and easier method of sharing the documents.