PDF was initially released over 23 years ago, it solved a very important problem. How could you provide an electronic equivalent to paper?
As a standard, like most things evolved over decades, it’s actually pretty awful. The specification reads like it was designed by an army of people who seldom spoke and had no long term plan.
That said, it is without a doubt still one of the most important file formats on the web. Its issues are a direct result of the era it was designed in, open standards were far from the norm, the desktop was king, and the internet was primarily used for email.
A lot has changed since then, but PDF itself, though it has had more features added to its specification, has not materially changed much. Some of the larger issues with the format include:
- They are often bloated large documents making them slow to download and render,
- The layout is generally fixed and not responsive making them awkward to read on a mobile device,