Nitro Blog

Nitro & PDF 2.0


As a leader in document productivity, Nitro always strives to be at the intersection of our customers’ needs, technology advancements, and breakthrough innovation. A new version of the PDF standard—PDF 2.0—is about to be released, and Nitro is ready to help our customers understand the impact and opportunity for their businesses.

What is PDF?

PDF (Portable Document Format) is the world’s most popular file format for document presentation. PDF has been around for almost 24 years and has been officially standardized as ISO-32000-1 since 2008. As the first and leading alternative to Adobe® Acrobat®, Nitro is strongly committed to the PDF standard, and we have developed our products to meet the needs of our customers and adhere to the PDF specification.

As a leading member of the PDF Association, Nitro directly contributes to the future of the PDF standard. Furthermore, Justin Durkan, Director of Engineering at Nitro, is an active Board Member of the PDF Association. Justin’s leadership on the Board gives Nitro a strong voice in contributing to the future of PDF and representing the needs of our customers.

What is PDF 2.0?

The latest version of the PDF standard, PDF 2.0 has been in development for almost a decade. Also known as ISO 32000-2, PDF 2.0 represents a significant update to the version and is expected to be published in May 2017.

The primary objective of this latest version is to clarify many of the ambiguities in the previous standard (PDF 1.7 or ISO 32000-1). These improvements will make it easier and faster for developers to create tools that can manage PDF documents.

PDF 2.0 introduces many new features to expand the capability of PDF documents, including:

  • Unencrypted wrapper document
  • AES 256 encryption
  • Unicode passwords
  • Support for UTF-8
  • CAdES digital signatures
  • Elliptically curve based certificates
  • Long-term validation of signatures (LTV)
  • Rendering changes for transparency
  • Document parts
  • Projection, 3D, sound, and video annotations
  • Geospatial coordinates
  • 3D in PRC format with 3D measurements
  • Pronunciation hints
  • Associated files
  • Additional standard structure elements and attributes for tagged PDF
  • Length fields for image data

PDF 2.0 will also deprecate a number of previous PDF features that are inconsistently supported or not broadly adopted, including:

  • XFA Forms
  • Movies and sound
  • Outdated, superfluous, non-portable, and redundant information

As an industry leader and Board member of the PDF Association, Nitro remains committed to the active improvement of the PDF standard. As with any new revision of the standard, certain features are more meaningful to our customers than others. We intend to carefully review the full range of PDF 2.0 features and work with our customers to identify the most relevant features for implementation in Nitro Pro.

Soon after the release of PDF 2.0, Nitro Pro will support opening, reading, and editing all documents that are created to the PDF 2.0 standard. Additionally, all new features that Nitro implements will be fully compliant with PDF 2.0 documents.

What happens next?

The arrival of PDF 2.0 will not bring any sudden changes to PDF usage or PDF-based applications, and most people will continue using their existing PDF documents as usual. Gradually, the new PDF 2.0 features will be adopted by organizations that require specific functionality in their PDF documents—a change that will usher in the spread of PDF 2.0 as developers begin to support it in popular applications.

Developers can choose to adopt individual pieces of PDF 2.0, as long as they implement those features completely. This will ensure that all PDF 2.0 documents can be shared across different organizations and applications without any change in functionality.

Once the new standard is published, Nitro will provide additional information pertaining to PDF 2.0 and potential implications for customers at

For a more in-depth look at the impact of PDF 2.0, read this interview with Justin Durkan, Nitro’s Director of Desktop Engineering and a PDF Association Board Member.