Adobe, IBM Brew a Java PGML Viewer

November 17, 1998

Mark Walter

The Seybold Report on Internet Publishing
Special to

Can a Java-based Acrobat be far behind?

Adobe has enlisted the aid of IBM in developing a Java PGML viewer the company revealed yesterday at a small press function hosted by IBM. The Java PGML viewer is the first Java implementation of the Adobe imaging model, which also underlies Adobe PostScript, PDF and the Acrobat viewer.

PGML (Precision Graphics Markup Language), was submitted earlier this year by Adobe and other firms to the W3C as a proposed 2D graphics language for encoding and displaying vector graphics on the Web. The W3C has since formed a working group to hammer out a compromise between PGML and VML (Vector Markup Language), a similar format proposed by Microsoft.

The Java PGML viewer being developed is comparable in functionality to the ActiveX control Adobe unveiled last month at Internet World and showed again yesterday to the XML 98 audience in Chicago. But the Java viewer is only 300K in size, small enough for many handheld computers. IBM showed the Java PGML viewer running on an HP handheld as well as on a standard Pentium PC.

Our take

Acrobat has been one of the more successful plug-ins on the Web, but its large footprint has kept it -- and its PDF format -- from migrating to handheld computers and other small digital appliances. The prototype Java PGML viewer handles individual graphics, not multipage PDF documents, but it clearly shows how the Adobe and IBM relationship could help bring Postscript-based imaging to a much wider array of devices than personal computers and RIPs.