Introducing “Logical Structures”, a blog

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Duff standing by 1 turret on the U S S New Jersey, BB 62.Welcome to my new blog!

Logical Structures will concentrate on topics related to electronic documents, PDF technology and PDF accessibility, more or less the same topics I’ve covered since the late 1990s.

Usually, the purpose is education, but I’ll admit to sometimes being more interested in winning an argument. I’m actually a nice guy, or so my mother tells me. Emphatic and a little pedantic, perhaps, but I don’t yell. I try to write clearly and cleanly, but sometimes a bit too densely. Feel free to call me out; I’ll make adjustments.

Through 15 years of articles, blog-posts, comments, listserv rants, email diatribes and more, I’ve built a few distinct reputations. Some feel that I make lots of noise. For others, I’m a consumer advocate calling it like I see it, and a fearless defender of the PDF faith!

As always, you decide.

DISCLAIMER: While I hold several leadership positions in the electronic document and standards industry, I do not speak for US or ISO committees in this blog unless expressly noted and authorized. Logical Structures represents my personal views as the President of NetCentric Technologies, creators of the CommonLook suite of software and services. If I address (as I will) points related to PDF standards, I will remind the reader for whom I do and do not speak.

Screenshot of the internal structure of a PDF file showing the Alt. stright for a tagged PDF of a CommonLook brochure.

Why “Logical Structures”?

I saw my first PDF in 1994, in Madison, Wisconsin while working as a political consultant. I founded Document Solutions, Inc. about 14 months later in Oakland, CA.

After 16 years of marinating in PDF, I remain amazed. As a technology, PDF is at once elegant, flexible, capable… I could go on, but you get the point.

Given that at core it’s the static representation of a page, PDF is incredibly flexible. It’s crazy what this technology can do. You can save trees and serve people with PDF, and when you use PDF well, everyone can benefit.

PDF was designed as electronic printed paper. For a variety of reasons good and bad, PDF is a completely different technical challenge for accessibility as compared to relatively simple, text-based HTML.

The fundamental concepts underpinning accessibility in PDF are located in a document once known as the PDF Reference, now ISO 32000-1:2008, in Section 14.7 “Logical Structure”. It seemed appropriate that a semi-technical blog dedicated to promoting PDF accessibility should start from that point.

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