Publishing #opendata in Portable Document Format (PDF) files

Seriously don’t do it. Open data users don’t want it. Believe me I’ve asked:


I received a lot of responses. They kept me occupied for most of the weekend. The 1st and most graphic was from the founder of


Parsing (automatically analysing the contents) of a PDF file is challenging. Without the correct knowledge and tools, any data in a PDF file is rendered inert:


Several replies accused publishers of ignorance and obstruction:


I’ve barely scratched the surface of the responses I received. This blog post doesn’t do them justice. But it does start to highlight the issue with PDFs.

Please stop publishing them. Please start using other formats.

Need a hand? Email me.

One thought on “Publishing #opendata in Portable Document Format (PDF) files

  1. Hear hear. The arguments apply to texts too, not just to data. If you want your work (text or data) to be useful, usable, and re-usable, keep it out of PDFs. Let publishers put your texts in PDF if they insist, but avoid publishers who use PDF-only. There should always be a more useful file format as well.

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