The PDF, or portable document format, represents the gold standard in document sharing. PDFs come packaged with all text, fonts, and images embedded in the file, which allows them to be displayed independent of applications, operating systems, or hardware. They’re highly compressed files, which makes emailing, downloading, and printing them quick and easy. And their open standard platform means that anyone can develop, use, sell, and distribute PDF software and implementations.
But that simplified nature doesn’t mean that working with PDFs is easy. Hundreds of different readers and editors exist, all with varying degrees of usability.
Adobe, which created the PDF in the 1990s and granted all royalty-free rights to the format in 2008, owns the three most widely used: Reader (free), Acrobat Standard (entry level), and Acrobat Pro (comprehensive).