The ABCs Of The PDF: J-L

First off, my apologies. It has been awhile since the last posting in this series, and there is still yet more to uncover and discover. So for this posting, its about the figures behind the PDF world and information behind PDF links and some tips. If you’re stalking up on some backgrounder bits and PDF facts in preparation for the 2007 Conference, then by all means, read on.

John E. Warnock

The name, the man, the father behind the PDF, Dr. John E. Warnock. Along with Charles Geschke, he co-founded Adobe Systems, Inc. in 1982. Before that, he worked as a computer scientist at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in 1978, where he first developed the Post Script language (aka “Interpress” in its early Camelot development), the page description language which would be the building blocks of the PDF.

For the first two years of the company, Warnock served as president of Adobe Systems Inc. and then was CEO until his retirement from that position in 2000. Warnock has led an active career of achievements in computer technology, being highly distinguished in numerous associations and winner of countless awards for his innovation and influence. He is now co-chairman of Adobe with Charles Geshcke.

Also interesting to note is that he has an Adobe typeface named after him—Warnock Pro. Here is a quoted description: “Warnock Pro’s structure is both rational and dynamic, striking a balance between innovation and restraint.” I wonder if the look of the typeface design reflects his personality. . . .

Kurt Foss

As regular day-to-day PDF user, you hardly notice how quickly names can stick in your head—Kurt Foss being one of them. I first came upon Kurt Foss in the beginning of my PDF research, when I read many blogs and searched many articles (I still do). And his were among the top of the research piles.

And doing a bit of research on Foss himself, you’ll find that he has a major presence in the PDF world too. As a long time veteran of the PDF industry, his attraction to the PDF world was a passion for the format, a curiosity about the potential uses and users of the format: “I became increasingly aware of looming technological changes that seemed poised to change the way my profession worked. So I immersed myself in learning about it.” One of his most “notable notables,” in fact, was being one of the first to globally publish newspaper pages in the PDF format, experimenting with how the digital format could work for the printed word.

Foss started out as an Adobe evangelist with the company from 1993-2003 when Acrobat was still in its first version. Since then, he has been web editor of both PDFZone and Planet PDF, and has written articles on issues surrounding the uses of the PDF format. Currently, Foss is the online editor of the Acrobat User Community, a site you may have heard of or been to at one point or another for resources and tips. He has written numerous posts, commenting, reviewing and reporting anything and everything having to do with PDF.


Linking within a PDF file itself is a great way in which to include more background content within your file. Yet, the hypertext link, itself, has a background history of its own, one associated with Vannevar Bush’s influential work ,“As We May Think.”

The paper contained the first rough concept of the computer, called the Memex, an idea which inspired the creation of the actual hypertext as we know it today. The term “hypertext” was first coined by Ted Nelson in 1965, and its invention is usually accredited to him and American scientist, Douglas Engelbart. In 1968, with Engelbart’s historic “Mother of All Demos,” the first hypertext interface was demoed. And by 1980, Tim Berners-Lee, also another famous name, created a hypertext database system, a system created out of a motivation that became the same driving force behind the World Wide Web and the Internet—to meet the demand of automatic information sharing. The implementation of such hypertext link databases in the late 80’s eventually led to the first stages of the World Wide Web.

Of course, needless to say, when you add links within your PDF, you create the same mini-network of information resources and sites. However, behind the convenience of endless information resources, is the frustration of usability. Web usability guru, Jakob Nielsen , has a few words on the use of links and the PDF, which might come in handy in making that PDF user-friendly and informative.

Hope this helps out with that small talk. ‘Till next time!