The Advantages of PDF's
PDF stands for portable document format. The technology was developed by Adobe and based on a language called Postscript.
There are two big advantages to using PDF documents for distributing information:
First, PDF maintains the original look of the document. Fonts, photos, graphics and layouts almost always appear identical to the original. That's important if you have put a lot of effort into design, organization and presentation. You want the intended viewer to be impacted by the power of your presentation, not confused by strange fonts, paragraphs that spill off the page and photos shifted to wrong locations.
The second advantage is that documents created in Postscript are platform independent. This means that anyone with the right software using Apple Macintosh, Microsoft Windows or even some PDAs can view a PDF document. Files that are made in Postscript can be printed on any printer that understands Postscript, regardless of what kind of computer is connected to the printer. Likewise, regardless of what type of computer creates a PDF file, it can be viewed on any computer with PDF viewing software.
Originally and still the most powerful way to create PDF documents is to use Adobe Acrobat. While the Adobe PDF reader is free, Acrobat is not. Fortunately an increasing number of other programs now include the ability to output PDFs.
Microsoft Word has the ability to save a document as a PDF. So do many of the de-facto standard graphics applications like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.
A new technology called Macromedia Flash Paper allows users to easily create PDFs, and perhaps more importantly, "PDF style" documents that can be viewed with Flash. We have used this new technology with great success for CD-ROM document deployment.