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WWF releases a PDF downgrade

It may be rash to comment on a format I haven't seen, but according to French TV the WWF has released a new .wwf format that is supposed to replace the brilliant PDF (Adobe's portable document format) with the handy extra feature that you can't print from it. Brilliant: have we learned nothing from the fiascos of format wars? Think VHS versus Betamax, mobile phone chargers, and in 2010 lots of Word users unknowingly emailing files in .docx format to people who can't open them (without messing about with a conversion that most of them don't know is possible).

I am a lifelong hater of waste, and a keen recycler, but there are times when only a printout will do. I don't print about 99.5% of the documents I receive, mostly dealing with them on screen. But if I need printout, that is my decision, not the WWF's. The last thing the world needs is a fresh source of electronic frustration. Avoiding waste is an issue of education, habit and attitude, not electronic compulsion. And the PDF is a mature, useful de facto standard which allows you to transmit a document that transcends all the minor incompatibilities that computers would normally interpose between sender and recipient. It doesn't need to be replaced, especially not by something less competent.

Anyway it won't work. I bet I'll still be able to make a screen clip (Cmd-Shift-4 if you use a Mac) and print that. I sometimes resort to this method to overcome incompatibilities between browsers and airline websites that otherwise would frustrate the mere printing of a boarding card. And unless the WWF has also disabled the useful features of copy and paste, people will still print such documents if they want to. It will just be more bother and yet another instance of the fact that the Nanny State breeds workarounds.

PS I just saw this blog explaining how to overcome the "no-print" flag in what is only a slightly (pointlessly) encrypted PDF using open source software, further confirming that this attempt is doomed.


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