Fremont, Calif.-based Foxit Software wants to push the PDF format into the digital world with the release of its new ConnectedPDF application.

Calling it more than a mere upgrade to its PDF technology, Foxit CTO Steven Li said this release will create a new "Internet of Documents" by embedding identity and intelligence into the PDF.

Developed as an extension to the PDF format, ConnectedPDF (cPDF) offers extensive functionality delivered through the cloud, including document locating and tracking, file update notification, shared and synchronized reviews, remote file protection, data collection and more.

In fact it brings to the table functionality that is normally only available with more sophisticated document management system implementations, Li said.

Foxit was founded in 2001 and has been working on the electronic publishing and documenting field focusing on the implementation of PDF core technology.

PDF Problems

Li said there has been little innovation in the PDF space relative to the wider document management industry.

“People have taken them for granted. They believe that innovation is in the DMS (Document Management Space) and CMS (Content Management System) space, but they have overlooked innovation in the document format itself,” he said. “However, it offers an irreplaceable link between the [enterprise] system and the users and it is also the only piece of software that offers additional control at the users hand."

The problem is that the documents that are stored in the system are simply treated as a collection of information bits. With PDF, however, it’s different.

“With a document format and particularly in an open document format, it presents a whole different set of opportunities. Documents are not only just collections of bits, they are actually pages,” he said.

“There is structure and annotation and access controls that are available on the terminal devices themselves. These are all impossible where you download a document and then you are down.”

ConnectedPDF Format

Li said ConnectedPDF (cPDF) solves these problems by offering a number of improvements including the abilities to inform the document owner of its exact location, no matter where it is. It can also let the document owner know who has read the document, who has changed it and who has printed or shared it. In addition, users have the ability to update documents nd distribute those changes automatically, and ensure that outdated documents are no longer viewable.

Office documents and legacy PDFs can be converted into ConnectedPDF format with a click using a cPDF-enabled application or service, such as Foxit’s applications and web services.

The file is then registered in the cPDF cloud, which stores metadata to manage the document.

“A new document exchange format is going to be critical in terms of bringing the overall document experience to a whole new level,” Li said, noting that cPDF is a response to the connected world. In the digital world, PDF use is not as widespread as it might be.

“There are reasons they are underutilized. They were developed in the desktop era. The original model was that you have a desktop and you worked on them from there,” Li said. “It is clear that the users’ world is not the desktop anymore. They are a participating in the global economy and the chances are that their desktop is connected to their devices and their devices are connecting with other people.”

Foxit's move is the latest in the  PDF space. Last week Nuance released the latest version of its PDF alternative.