Adobe's PGML Proposal is Built on PDF and XML

April 16, 1998

Updated from The Bulletin: Seybold News and Views on Electronic Publishing, Vol. 3, No 28

Adobe Systems ( has submitted a proposal to the W3C that could result in better-quality Web-based graphics that do not require specialized plug-ins or viewers. The Precision Graphics Markup Language (PGML), created in conjunction with IBM, Netscape Communications and Sun Microsystems, is being pitched as a standard way for handling vector graphics. The specification builds on Adobe's PostScript and portable document format (PDF) standards, said the company, meaning that few changes will be necessary to make existing PostScript and PDF applications PGML compliant. PGML is expressed in XML and works with other specifications for building graphics-intensive Web pages, including CSS and DOM (document object model). The proposal is at

Our Take: Adobe gets it. Building this proposed spec on the foundation of XML will allow graphics to generated by applications or by data driven scripts, a powerful automation feature. In addition, text embedded in PGML graphics will be accessible by full text search engines, beefing up existing information retrieval tools without additional technology.

This will not be the only proposal for a 2D graphics markup language. Consider a few of those not on the list of PGML supporters: Microsoft, Apple and Hewlett Packard. Certainly one these companies must have an interest in graphics markup. We hope that whatever other standards are submitted also embrace XML as a core technology.