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This question has been closed after getting 5 close votes:

Example PDF language code which helps to study the official PDF specification?

I believe the question is in a way equivalent to the following question:

"How to analyze an executable file? For example, which tools can I use to obtain assembly code from an executable file?"

PDF files are in a way executable files, they have programmatic instructions inside, they can also contain JavaScript code, and you cannot (usually) analyze them by using a text editor. You need specialized tools.

As far as I know from reading other posts on Meta, recommendations for tools are not "100% forbidden in SO without exception". It seems to me that they are analyzed on a case-by-case basis.

Please notice that I am not the OP of this question, I am just a concerned citizen.


Is there a way to save this question so that it can be re-opened and it does not get (eventually) deleted?

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closed as too localized by Al E., Toon Krijthe, Martijn Pieters, Time Traveling Bobby, BinaryMisfit Oct 2 '12 at 17:22

This question is unlikely to help any future visitors; it is only relevant to a small geographic area, a specific moment in time, or an extraordinarily narrow situation that is not generally applicable to the worldwide audience of the internet. For help making this question more broadly applicable, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

If you have an argument to make for or against the question, please post it in an answer. The comments have gotten... unwieldy. – George Stocker Oct 2 '12 at 13:42
Is there any way to backup my deleted question. I didn't expect to save this question on SO, but is this question is still avaiable in somewhere (like recycle can)? – user565739 Oct 2 '12 at 21:24

There are a few issues with that question. None of them insurmountable, but until these issues are fixed, this question will continue to yo-yo between open and closed.

As written, it's Non Constructive. To wit:

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or specific expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion.

Your meta question asks, "What tools can I use to X?" That's skirting the line of polling. If your question on Stack Overflow is actually asking that, then it's not constructive. See also: Q&A is hard, let's go shopping!

The next problem is that you've given us an overly broad question, simply

I would like to know if there are some better way to help understand the PDF format when one read its specification. For example, do we have a pdf editor which can show the difference in raw data when one execute an operation?

"Better"? "Understand the specification"? There's a wide range of content in there. I'm sure entire books have been written on the subject. That's what the FAQ says, If the canonical answer to your question can fill a book, it's too broad.

We need specifics, we need context, we need to know what problem you're solving. Is this just a fishing expedition? You're curious about this and so you've decided to ask Stack Overflow? Or do you have a task to parse a PDF file? The answer to those questions gives us context and lets us know the actual problem you need to solve.

Finally, some of the answers (ok, the vast majority of them) are link-only answers. That's normally an indication of trouble in the question. It's a herring, though not necessarily a red one. Just a stinky one.

As it stands, this would probably make a great blog post, but not so good on the Q&A side of things. I would have voted to close it as well, given its current state.

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Meanwhile the original question discussed here has been deleted altogether. No reason given (unlike 'close', which at least gave some formal reason). From what was said in the comments, I took the assurance away that the content wouldn't be completely removed, but was still open to improvement (existing questions and answers, just no new ones to be added). That assurance now is gone. -- Would some kind soul here please clue me up about the reasons to delete such content? – Kurt Pfeifle Oct 2 '12 at 19:57
Could a point be made to add significantly valuable info into the tag-wiki instead? Perhaps @KurtPfeifle could attempt to do so? I guess at >10k he should still be able to see the content? And he seems to be an expert within the tag. If tools got listed which aid in PDF related development, perhaps they might find a place there. – Bart Oct 2 '12 at 21:06
@Bart Great suggestion. – George Stocker Oct 2 '12 at 21:51
@GeorgeStocker: Are you willing to vote for undeleting it, based on your evaluation of the current content (which had been improved over its original content before it was deleted)? – Kurt Pfeifle Oct 3 '12 at 9:15
@Bart: I'm willing to help others to learn about PDF, as can be seen by most of my answers there: always giving technical details to answers, provide illustrations, etc. However, I'm not sure if the tag-wiki is really a good place to hide "gems" in. The tag-wikis are very rarely accessed by users, especially new ones. Maybe the tag-wikis could be made more prominent. – Kurt Pfeifle Oct 3 '12 at 9:18
@Bart: Also, after I had my first ~200 reputation score and seeing how poor the tag-wiki contents for PDF and PostScript were (at the time), I specifically asked by email and chat, if I could get the privileges to edit it. It was denied on the grounds that one needed a score of +10000. I objected, pointing out how many years it would take for even an expert in low-traffic tags (as PDF or PostScript are, compared to others) to accumulate this reputation. Never got an answer... – Kurt Pfeifle Oct 3 '12 at 9:24
... -- It's just unfair that 'clueless' people (who may be excellent on high traffic tags!) can destroy good content on low traffic tags. It's also a very discouraging experience for the real experts. I've seen 3 or 4 already going away again in [imagemagick], [pdf] and [postscript].. Which is a pity for the whole Stack platform. – Kurt Pfeifle Oct 3 '12 at 9:24
@KurtPfeifle Perhaps. I'm just trying to go beyond this single question. You can either keep fighting for it (which might be an endless struggle) or put the most important info somewhere relatively save, if valuable to the general PDF programming audience. It's up to you really. As for tag-wiki visibility, if you have any good ideas on how to improve that, feel free to make a feature request. I agree that they are not the most obvious thing. – Bart Oct 3 '12 at 9:27
...they are not the most obvious thing, and no-one can gain reputation by improving them. That's why they are (mostly) neglected. – Kurt Pfeifle Oct 3 '12 at 9:39
@KurtPfeifle AFAIK you can gain reputation for suggested tag-wiki edits below 2000 rep. Beyond that, it's indeed not the case. Once again though, if you have a good constructive idea on how to improve tag wiki content and visibility, make it a feature request. I agree that visibility is an issue and would personally support a good idea. I've been thinking about it myself, but have not been able to come up with a nice solution. Anyway, let's not drag this off-topic any further. Good luck with whatever you end up doing. – Bart Oct 3 '12 at 10:29
@Bart: All I'm saying is: I do not intend to spend my time and effort to put good content to places where it's hardly seen or found. I rather put it in as 'answers' (as long as I'm not completely fed up with closures + deletions by tag amateurs). – Kurt Pfeifle Oct 3 '12 at 10:56
@KurtPfeifle Suit yourself. I merely tried to constructively find a way in which content could be preserved for a question which is apparently unlikely to remain on the site for any length of time. Whatever you do with that advice is entirely up to you. – Bart Oct 3 '12 at 10:58

Ok this is (a bit) in response to George Stocker's answer...

Because George linked to Jeff Atwood's blog: Q&A is hard, let's go shopping!. Let me quote the last paragraph of that blog:

If I had to summarize our network in a single word, that word is “learning”. People come to our sites to learn about topics they are passionate about. As the old Chinese proverb goes, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Every question and answer ultimately should be about teaching and learning — yes, even the shopping ones.

The closed question + its answers, as it stood before closing was a learning and teaching resource for everybody who is interested in PDF.

Those whose votes closed it clearly aren't interested in learning nor teaching about PDF, because none of them had any noteworthy questions or answers in their reputation score... which is fine, because their passions + expertise are centered elsewhere.

So their action in closing this question did neither help the man "to feed him for a day". Nor did it help to "teach him to fish".

Instead, their action effectively amounts to two things combined, for the time being:

  • stealing the man's fish, as well as
  • depriving the man of his fishnet, as well as
  • discouraging and chasing away the man's fishing teachers.

I don't think Jeff had this type of consequences in mind when he wrote that blog.

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Didn't know that sometimes, for some contributions, all comments of all users get deleted without a trace. Today is an interesting day -- learning something new every hour... – Kurt Pfeifle Oct 2 '12 at 0:45
The comments were deleted for two reasons: 1) they showed up in the moderator console (autoflagged by the system for the number in the time span) and 2) they had devolved into an argument. Rest assured, they are kept around. If you feel like they should not have been deleted, feel free to send an email to with your reasons. – George Stocker Oct 2 '12 at 0:51
@KurtPfeifle, I think this is just the tip of the iceberg i.e. that a mass of niche but legitimate questions is submerged by the numbers of people only interested in orthogonal topics. I think the best way to handle such questions is to make sure they get good answers from "good samaritans" like you who like to answer old questions or otherwise appreciate chalenges. :) – Nemo May 8 '15 at 6:40

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