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Mapping and Displaying Structural Transformations between XML and PDF

Hardy, Matthew R. B.; Brailsford, David F.

Mapping and Displaying Structural Transformations between XML and PDF Thumbnail


Matthew R. B. Hardy

David F. Brailsford


Richard Furuta

Jonathan Maletic

Ethan Munson


Documents are often marked up in XML-based tagsets to delineate major structural components such as headings, paragraphs, figure captions and so on, without much regard to their eventual displayed appearance. And yet these same abstract documents, after many transformations and 'typesetting' processes, often emerge in the popular format of Adobe PDF, either for dissemination or archiving.

Until recently PDF has been a totally display-based document representation, relying on the underlying PostScript semantics of PDF. Early versions of PDF had no mechanism for retaining any form of abstract document structure but recent releases have now introduced an internal structure tree to create the so called 'Tagged PDF'.

This paper describes the development of a plugin for Adobe Acrobat which creates a two-window display. In one window is shown an XML document original and in the other its Tagged PDF counterpart is seen, with an internal structure tree that, in some sense, matches the one seen in XML. If a component is highlighted in either window then the corresponding structured item, with any attendant text, is also highlighted in the other window.

Important applications of correctly Tagged PDF include making PDF documents reflow intelligently on small screen devices and enabling them to be read out in correct reading order, via speech synthesiser software, for the visually impaired. By tracing structure transformation from source document to destination one can implement the repair of damaged PDF structure or the adaptation of an existing structure tree to an incrementally updated document.


Hardy, M. R. B., & Brailsford, D. F. (2002). Mapping and Displaying Structural Transformations between XML and PDF. In R. Furuta, J. Maletic, & E. Munson (Eds.),

Conference Name ACM Symposium on Document Engineering (DocEng '02)
End Date Nov 9, 2002
Publication Date Jan 1, 2002
Deposit Date Oct 10, 2005
Publicly Available Date Oct 9, 2007
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords XML, PDF, document structure transformation.
Public URL
Additional Information Final draft form of paper accepted for ACM Doc. Eng. 2002 conference


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