Tuesday, June 16, 2009
  Convert XPS to PDF/A
Our latest release of NiXPS SDK v2.6.3 features the ability to convert XPS to PDF/A. PDF/A-1b - Level B compliance in Part 1 to be precise.

To enable this, we have introduced a new API call: NOPackage.exportToPDFWithOptions.
It takes in an NOOptions object instance, which is an object that allows you to control aspects of the XPS to PDF conversion process. It contains key/value pairs, which can be set by means of the NOOptions.setOption(key,value) call.

Here is a code sample that demonstrates the conversion to PDF/A:

NOPackage lPackage = NOPackage.readPackageFromFile("in.xps");

NOOptions lOptions = new NOOptions();
lOptions.setOption("PDF Conformance","PDF/A-1B");

NOProgressReporter lReporter = new NOProgressReporter();
lPackage.exportToPDFWithOptions("out.pdf", lReporter, lOptions);

NOPackage.destroyPackage(ref lPackage);

Of course, this is supported in our C/C++ API (Mac OSX & Windows 32/54 bit), but is also available in C#, VB.NET and the other .NET based languages.

If you are working with the Windows Presentation Foundation, it is now very easy to convert your XAML content, via an XPSDocumentWriter, to PDF/A, by means of the NiXPS SDK.
Monday, June 15, 2009
  NiXPS SDK v2.6.3 released
We have released NiXPS SDK v2.6.3 today.
This is a maintenance update, free for all current customers of the NiXPS SDK.

We have invested a lot of time and effort in further optimizing the rendering and conversion, both speed and quality wise.
As a result you'll notice quicker rendering and conversion performance, smaller output files and an overall quality boost.

With v2.6.3 it is now becomes possible to generate PDF files that adhere to the PDF/A-1b ( ISO 19005-1:2005) standard.
This is a PDF substandard intended to limit the scope of the PDF specification to yield PDF files that can be trusted to be archived for long time. Some customers are operating in a setting that have a PDF/A requirement, and this ability will enable them to fulfill this. I am going to run a separate post on how you can setup the NiXPS SDK to generate PDF/A, in stead of 'regular' PDF.

The object API also gets a boost. Text selection operations are further optimized, which can yield speed increases of 5-10 times.

And, being a maintenance update, we are also fixing a few bugs with this release.
Almost all of them were reported by our customers, which I would like to thank again for providing their feedback to us.
A lot of customers are relying on our software in their products or server production setting, and the feedback we are getting allows us to further improve our software and provide a field tested, high quality SDK.

You can find the changelog for this v2.6.3 release here.
You can apply for your trial version here.
You'll receive a link to download the SDK.

Friday, June 12, 2009
  Windows 7 to be shipped in Europe without Internet Explorer
It has been reported that Windows 7 will be sold without Internet Explorer in the European Union.

This is ridiculous.

The EU closely monitors Microsoft, and rightly so. But this is not a good evolution.
If anything has been proven the last couple of years, it is that even when Microsoft supplies an internet browser with Windows, there is still competition possible. The Firefox rise is a testament to this.

Every OS that comes to the market now has an internet browser. It is like a file explorer, command shell, calculator, text editor, etc... Microsoft should be allowed to innovate in this space, and provide a browser with their OS.
Friday, June 05, 2009
  New stuff coming for NiXPS SDK v2.6.3
Our next NiXPS SDK v2.6.3 will have some new features we have been working on:

  1. PDF/A: it will be possible to convert an XPS file to a PDF that adheres to the PDF/A-1b standard.
  2. The ability to detect, and not subset, base 14 fonts when doing an XPS to PDF conversion. Which potentially reduces the resulting PDF file.
  3. More control over the metadata stored in the resulting PDF.

We also did a lot of work to improve the quality, speed and memory use of the rendering, and the XPS processing in general.

Expect the release next week. At the same time I will post an article on how the new functionality can be used.

Have a nice weekend!
  Last one about Adobe
Adobe has announced the steps it is going to taken with regards to the increasing amount of PDF security issues the world is being exposed to.

Here's the post.

In summary, Adobe is going to do 3 things:

  1. Code Hardening: (aka) From now on Adobe will start releasing code without bugs, really.
  2. Incident Response Process Improvements: (aka) Adobe will not wait weeks and weeks anymore before reacting on the next major security issue that pops with their software.
  3. Regular Security Update: (aka) Start your update engines! Adobe is going preparing an update treadmill so you can have all those valuable security patches quicker, and more regularly.

This last one actually puzzles me a bit, because it's not that the 'Adobe Updater' is a silent app on my machines.

Anyway, it's clear that the horse has left the stable, and Adobe is going in ├╝ber damage control and starts to chase it.

Fact is: with PDF more security troubles lie ahead, and Adobe admits this.
Adobe says that they will be better prepared to react.
Are you?

(and now I'm going to get off Adobe's/PDF's back for a while)
Monday, June 01, 2009
  Has PDF failed as a preferred document distribution format?
Has PDF failed as a preferred document distribution format?


It shows that PDF is ubiquitous and important enough that the bad guys see it as worthwhile to target


MP3, JPG and PNG are examples of equally ubiquitous formats that suffer less exploits.
The PDF format allows Javascript payloads that execute when attempting to view the file, this can be put to use as a formidable vector for exploit code.
PDF v1.8 viewers even contain a virtual machine to run flash programs.
From the e-security perspective, a 'vanilla' PDF document should be treated as an unknown application.

What to do?

Stop using 'plain' PDF, enforce a sub standard like PDF/A, PDF/X or other from the rich PDF patchwork.
Check out alternatives: XPS is a format that keeps behaving like a (fixed) document under all circumstances.

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