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Will the PDF file format ever be displaced?
That is practically impossible. When conceived by John Warnock in the late 198s and defined in the now-famous Camelot whitepaper in 199 the future PDF format was intended to serve a genuine business need that had no immediate answer at the time. That of having a self-contained cross-platform digital printout that wouldbine visual information from arbitrary sources and render onscreen and print identically anywhere on any system without relying on external resources s The concept the format and the apanying Acrobat app sparked a lot of interest but once Adobe made Acrobat Reader a free download and enabled viewing in browser (defining the concept of a browser extension jointly with Netscape along the way) it really took to the sky. Since then PDF as a format grew to support a multitude of featuresments and annotations; accessibility features; content protection encryption and access security; forms and data collection; professional printing features; interactivity multimedia 3D support file attachments robust metadata etc. When Adobe donated PDF do ISO s in 28 it opened new horizons for the format adoption. I remember estimates from circa 213 that there were over 2 bln PDF in freely indexable resources around Internet with up to twice that amount in various corporate repositories. Since then PDF even had to branch out into a family of several related standards for document archival ( PDF s ) engineering ( PDF s ) professional printing ( PDF s ) variable data printing ( PDF s ) and accessibility ( PDF s ) all of them feature-based subsets of functionality from the parent PDF specification. Which in itself is under active development s having just released a major new version 2.. PDF is even listed by Wikipedia as an example of a de-facto standard s ) As a technical product PDF is on masterpiece level. Tasked from the outset to be future-proof it is AFAIC the only document format to boast forwardpatibility. Just think about it you create a PDF document today then find a way to transfer it on a 25yoputer with a copy of Acrobat Reader and it opens and shows! No wonder PDF was chosen as a substrate for the ISO document archival standard to make sure a digital document archived today opens in 1 years. So back to your question. What is it that you feel can be improved enough for tasks and features above to throw PDF off its throne? Is that original business need not yet sufficiently addressed? You serously want to beat all of that listed? I really don see thating. There were several attempts of which Microsoft most recent XPS challenge s es to mind. Does XPS even ring a bell now? However at the time it seemed threatening considering Microsoft resource then apany roughly 1 times the size of Adobe. In reality the market just doesn need another format for the task PDF is coping just fine. There are areas of improvement to address of course PDF very nature of keeping the layout intact is less of an advantage in the mobile era. There are screen reflow technologies but they need to be more mature and widespread. While PDF can support anypression method there are more efficient alternatives for raster-only (scanned) content using the various flavours of MRC (think DjVu). Yet this ispletely at software vendors discretion and some implementations s are very solid already (not so great in Adobe own Acrobat product unfortunately). Anyway there may be new imagepression algorithms on the horizon and PDF is well set to support any of them without even any changes to the specification.