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Re: [Athen] Update: PDF Maker problems


From: chagnon@pubcom.com
Date: Sep 29, 2021 7:31AM

The export utilities by Adobe and Microsoft / Foxit are constantly leapfrogging each other, plus each can convert different parts of your Word content differently. Tables and footnotes are 2 examples that come quickly to mind.

Therefore, we recommend that our clients try both and see which method gives the best PDF for that particular Word document at that particular time. Guaranteed, the results will be different just a few months or weeks later when Microsoft, Foxit, or Adobe upgrade something. Hence, the leapfrogging effect.

To make the best choice, it might help to understand more about the PDF file format and the standards.

Adobe originally created the PDF file format in the late 1980s – early 1990s. Only Adobe's products could make and read a PDF file, and the Acrobat family of products eventually dominated the workplace for file exchange across platforms and between computer users.

In 2008, Adobe donated the PDF file format (not Acrobat, the software programs) to the ISO and it became an open standard (ISO 32000, to be specific) that today, is managed by ISO delegates and the PDF Association (disclaimer, I am a US delegate to the ISO and my firm is a member of the PDFa.org).

Any company can read the PDF standards and create programs to create, edit, and process PDF files because the standards are no longer proprietary to Adobe. Today we have hundreds of companies that create programs for PDFs. Maybe thousands.

But in the real world, Adobe's engineers are front and center on the ISO committees and working groups that create and manage the PDF standards. They are the most knowledgeable about the PDF format than any others in the world — in spite of the idiotic, bone-headed screw-ups they just put into the last update to Acrobat and the PDF Maker plug-in.

Foxit, CommonLook, and other companies mentioned in this thread are members of the PDF Association, but membership in the ISO committees, while not hidden, is also not broadcast either. It's an ISO thing. Those of us who are ISO members are there to work objectively to improve the standards, regardless of how our work affects our individual companies. So I do not know if Foxit is on the ISO standards committees.

My firm works with several companies that have software to create PDFs, and each one looks at Adobe-made PDFs and analyses them as they create their own PDF tools. I sure hope they don't repeat the bone-headed problems Adobe just released, but I would not be surprised if we started to see PathPathPath from their products, too.

Bottom line: don't blindly trust any of them.
Always test and verify the software's capabilities every few months.

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Bevi Chagnon | Designer, Accessibility Technician | <EMAIL REMOVED>
— — —
PubCom: Technologists for Accessible Design + Publishing
consulting ' training ' development ' design ' sec. 508 services
Upcoming classes at www.PubCom.com/classes
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Latest blog-newsletter – Simple Guide to Writing Alt-Text

-----Original Message-----
From: Steve Green < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
Sent: Wednesday, September 29, 2021 4:15 AM
To: WebAIM Discussion List < <EMAIL REMOVED> >; <EMAIL REMOVED>
Subject: RE: [WebAIM] [Athen] Update: PDF Maker problems

Returning to the topic of Microsoft's PDF export utility for Word (File / Save As / PDF), why do so many of you not use it? Are there any specific things it does badly?

I have done a comparison between it and the "Save As Adobe PDF" option, and the Microsoft export works better for all the content types that we deal with. Almost every document we work on needs to comply with both PDF/UA and WCAG 2.1 AA, so if the Microsoft export was problematic I think we would know about it.

That said, I am well aware that there are some content types that we never encounter, such as mathematical and chemical formulae, embedded audio and video and probably a lot more.

And to answer Susan's question, a well-produced PDF will invariably be more accessible than the source document, but the extent of the difference depends on the nature of the content. For example, in a PDF you can artifact all decorative images and shapes so they are not exposed to assistive technologies. You can't do that in a Word document. Even if you mark an image as decorative, screen readers announce "decorative image". This is extraordinarily annoying if the document contains a lot of decorative images or shapes such as lines, boxes and arrows.

You cannot use a screen reader's single-key navigation shortcuts in Word, so there is no way to jump to the next type of element such as a list, graphic or table. Also, it is easier to select different colours for the text and background in a PDF - I am not aware of a way to change the colour of the text in all paragraph styles at the same time in Word.

Steve Green
Managing Director
Test Partners Ltd

-----Original Message-----
From: WebAIM-Forum < <EMAIL REMOVED> > On Behalf Of Karen McCall
Sent: 28 September 2021 16:55
To: WebAIM Discussion List < <EMAIL REMOVED> >; <EMAIL REMOVED>
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] [Athen] Update: PDF Maker problems

I forgot to mention that PowerPDF has little or no keyboard support.

Cheers, Karen

-----Original Message-----
From: WebAIM-Forum < <EMAIL REMOVED> > On Behalf Of David Farough
Sent: Tuesday, September 28, 2021 11:46 AM
To: <EMAIL REMOVED> ; WebAIM Discussion List < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] [Athen] Update: PDF Maker problems

From the standpoint of a screen reader user, Foxit is a real pain to use.
Verry limited keyboard support for functionality; Poor or no undo capabilities; We use this at the office, but I have chosen to use Adobe at home instead.
-----Original Message-----
From: WebAIM-Forum < <EMAIL REMOVED> > On Behalf Of <EMAIL REMOVED>
Sent: Tuesday, September 28, 2021 11:28 AM
To: 'Access Technology Higher Education Network' < <EMAIL REMOVED> >; 'WebAIM Discussion List' < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] [Athen] Update: PDF Maker problems

Karen, here's FoxIt's website: https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.foxit.com%2F&amp;data%7C01%7C%7C2d5b533765cb4cb5fc6508d982970a50%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637684407487310570%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C1000&amp;sdataû5JvxWhuIEUPmldOy7vxHjRotjV8MdqhsvkEMUYfEQ%3D&amp;reserved=0

FYI, a couple years ago, folks inside FoxIt told us that they wrote Microsoft's PDF export utility for Word (that's File / Save As / PDF).

For those who need this information, Foxit's headquarters are in Fremont, California, but the company is incorporated in Fujian, China, and is listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange STAR Market (symbol 688095). It is not a US company, no matter what their website says.

Since we now have companies with offices around the world, always look for where a company is incorporated, and on which country's stock exchange it's listed. That shows a company's true pedigree.


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Bevi Chagnon | Designer, Accessibility Technician | <mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> > <EMAIL REMOVED>

- - -

PubCom: Technologists for Accessible Design + Publishing

consulting . training . development . design . sec. 508 services

Upcoming classes at <https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.pubcom.com%2Fclasses&amp;data%7C01%7C%7C2d5b533765cb4cb5fc6508d982970a50%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637684407487320567%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C1000&amp;sdata=q3vG%2Bs4WZ8yd31McPMy0YuJf92GCI6%2BPFTt849bBR7U%3D&amp;reserved=0> https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.pubcom.com%2Fclasses&amp;data%7C01%7C%7C2d5b533765cb4cb5fc6508d982970a50%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637684407487320567%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C1000&amp;sdata=q3vG%2Bs4WZ8yd31McPMy0YuJf92GCI6%2BPFTt849bBR7U%3D&amp;reserved=0

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<https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fmailchi.mp%2Fe694edcdfadd%2Fclass-discount-3266574&amp;data%7C01%7C%7C2d5b533765cb4cb5fc6508d982970a50%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637684407487320567%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C1000&amp;sdata=SS1OUusAKMcdBuhE8ZWtZSAzFIBHqPRi4AS8OFmh%2Fqc%3D&amp;reserved=0> Latest blog-newsletter - <https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pubcom.com%2Fblog%2F2020_07-20%2Falt-text_part-1.shtml&amp;data%7C01%7C%7C2d5b533765cb4cb5fc6508d982970a50%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637684407487320567%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C1000&amp;sdata=YHItaCuGGDd%2B0iyvAeAP3xf1Silzym1kXvXDmXhdjf4%3D&amp;reserved=0> Simple Guide to Writing Alt-Text

From: Karen McCall < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
Sent: Tuesday, September 28, 2021 11:11 AM
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network < <EMAIL REMOVED> >; <EMAIL REMOVED>
Cc: WebAIM Discussion List < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
Subject: RE: [Athen] Update: PDF Maker problems

I just bought Kofax PowerPDF - My instance of Nuance PowerPDF wouldn't install. Kofax bought the print part of Nuance in 2018 or 2019 so my guess is that Nuance is no longer supporting even the install of PowerPDF.

I bought the PowerPDF Advanced which has the tagging capability. Standard does not.

On an untagged PDF with headings, lists and page numbers in a coloured box, everything got tagged as a <P> even the lists. This means that for this 10 page document with at least 4 lists on each page, the lists are going to have to be manually tagged.

There is no Content Panel in PowerPDF.

For the untagged document, when I opened the Reading Order Panel (which you have to do EVERY time you want to use it - it is not added to the Navigation
Pane) and tried to designate both the page number and the image the page number was in/on, I was able to artifact the page number but the <Figure> tag was still in the Reading Order Panel but not in the Tags Tree and when I tried further remediation to get rid of the <Figure> tag, PowerPDF crashed.
I was using standard remediation techniques - nothing strange or outside of what I would normally try.

For a tagged PDF that I use as my benchmark accessible Word document then use the conversion tools to create the PDF, parts of table gridlines and decorative images were "stuck" to text and without a Content Panel, I couldn't remove them. They didn't show up in the Reading Order Panel but did show up in the Tags Tree. For example: "PathIntroductionPathPathPath".

When Kofax purchased the Nuance PowerPDF I did call them and ask about their continued commitment to accessible PDF and patiently went over tags and their importance. Even their developers had no clue what I was talking about and they didn't seem interested in further discussions.

Am trying to find a Foxit website where I can get Foxit. I had the Foxit for Business and was working with them on accessibility/tags but they lost interest and my complimentary copy ran out. I can find all sorts of third party download sites but want to purchase from Foxit.

One final note.for this post.on PowerPDF. Kofax hasn't improved the visibility of the "Autotag" button. It is a tiny button with no label to the left of the settings/Options button just above the Tags Tree. It has an even tinier plus sign on it so the visibility of the button looks like a "glitch"
in the software rather than a functional button. If you right click on No Tags Available, you can only add a Tags Root. However, the PowerPDF Ribbon in Word does create a tagged PDF by default.

Kofax PowerPDF Advanced is $179 USD or 238 CAD and is a one time payment. If there is a significant upgrade you would pay for it.

Will keep you updated on my research.

Cheers, Karen