|Adobe Acrobat||PDF (a subset of PostScript)3|
|DOCX||MS Word 2007–||XML4|
|DOC||MS Word 97–2003||Binary (0s and 1s)|
|RTF||MS WordPad||RTF (similar to TeX)|
- Native program. The program most-commonly used to edit the file type.
- Language. The computer language used to create the document. In other words, if you decompressed the file and then opened it inside Notepad, it is the language you would see.
- PDF stands for Portable Document Format.
- XML (Extensible Markup Language) is a tag-based language that is similar to HTML.
Size of a hello-world document
|6.0 KB||23.9 KB|
|DOCX||9.7 KB||940.0 KB|
|DOC||19.5 KB||192.0 KB|
|ODT||7.8 KB||Not applicable.|
|RTF||3.8 KB (1.5 KB when zipped)||Not applicable.|
|Macros||Font embedding||Digital signatures|
|Font sub-setting1||Embedded video||Bookmarks|
- Font sub-setting. Unlike font embedding, where all the characters belonging to a font family are inserted into the document, font subsetting only embeds the characters used in the document in question (e.g., A, E, and F instead of A through Z). This reduces the file's size.
So, which format is best? It depends on your needs. If file-size is the most important issue, choose RTF. DOCX, ODF, and PDF files are larger, even though they are compressed by default, and RTF is not. RTF is plain text. You can open it in Notepad and see all the statements. For example, here's what I see when I open my RTF hello-world document with Notepad (not WordPad):
and here is what I see when I open up my DOCX hello-world document:
Is the second document XML? No. It's XML compressed into zeroes and ones. If you want to see the real XML, change the extension of the file from .docx to .zip and uncompress it. Then, you will see the XML file. Open that in Notepad.
So, to repeat, RTF is smaller than the other formats, even though they are compressed and RTF is not. When I zip up my RTF file, it shrinks to 1.54 KB. Not bad!
When it comes to features, there's no comparison. PDF wins hands down. It's not just font-subsetting. PDF also gives you explicit control over the layers, view, and color of a document.
Layers. Other formats like DOC and ODT also have layers, but they're hidden. The only time you deal with them is when you send an object behind another object. Adobe Acrobat has a panel devoted just to layers and when you open a PDF in Adobe Illustrator, you can edit them individually.
View. You can also control how PDFs are viewed down to a minute detail. You can specify the initial zoom level and page when the document is opened. You can also allow or deny editing, printing, and copying of text on a case-by-case basis.
Color. The PDF also gives you extensive control over the color of your documents. Computer monitors display everything in mixtures of red, green, and blue (RGB). Printers work in CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black). A PDF file can be saved in both modes. It can also be saved as an LAB (luminance a-b) image.
To be fair, some features are not universally liked. Macros, for example, can be used to spread virii. Macro viruses are especially common in Adobe PDF and Word Documents. Here's a summary of the types of macros each document format supports:
So, if you like writing macros, OpenOffice.org may suit you best. If you prefer security, use RTF, as it doesn't support macros.