Marking the 5th Anniversary of DjVu

A report by PlanetDjVu, January 26, 2003

As Adobe Acrobat users are busy celebrating the 10th year anniversary of the release of the PDF file format in 2003, we at PlanetDjVu are marking the 5th year anniversary of the first release of the DjVu file format.
Here is a timeline of DjVu development:

1996 - start of the DjVu project by AT&T Labs-Research
1998 - release of free Windows and Linux browser plug-in by AT&T
1999 - Feith releases DjVuer and DjVer Pro
1999 - ACDSEE and IrfanView add support for DjVu viewing
1999 - release of Version 2.0 of the DjVu Reference Library by AT&T

2000 - release of Version 3.0 2000 - LizardTech acquires DjVu .
October 2000 - LizardTech updates DjVu Shop, releases as DjVu Solo 3.1.
November 2000 - portions of DjVu released under the GNU General Public License

July 2001 - LizardTech releases DjVu Workgroup 3.0
August 2001 - PlanetDjVu portal site opened .
September 2001 - LizardTech releases DjVu Encode SDK 3.5, ActiveX control for MS Office.
October 2001 - First DjVu Developer Conference scheduled, with James Rile from PlanetDjVu as keynote speaker, but then postoned to February 2002.
December 2001 - Any2DjVu Conversion Server completed, but DjVuZone portal freezes.

February 2002 - First DjVu Developer Conference canceled, not rescheduled JRASearch for DjVu finished and released at PlanetDjVu by JRA, as the first search product to search DjVu with term-highlighting and embedded metadata support.

June 2002 - LizardTech withdraws all previous DjVu products, announces new "Document Express" product line, announces new PDF-to-DjVu converter, withdraws all trial downloads and free utilities for DjVu.

September 2002 - JRA completes JRAPublish and JRAConvert for advanced DjVu file creation, but licensing cannot be worked out with LizardTech, so they are not released.

October 2002 - LizardTech cancels reseller agreement, drops hyperlink for PlanetDjVu. Expervision and ACDSEE drop support for DjVu format (could not update beyond V2.0).

December 2002 - LizardTech website documentation not updated in 6 months, DjVuZone documentation not updated in 12 months, PlanetDjVu the only site left offering detailed DjVu product information, news and reviews in the year 2002.

Unfortunately, we do not have as much to celebrate about DjVu as Adobe Acrobat Users do about PDF.  Unlike PDF, which is now supported by more than 1,000 third-party applications and utilities, DjVu has no third-party applications and utilities at all. While Adobe has consistantly developed a dedicated third-party and user community over 10 years, DjVu experienced a "rise and fall". There was a much more active community of third-parties and users prior to the aquisition of the format from AT&T Labs by LizardTech.

Looking forward beyond this anniversary year for both PDF and DjVu, we ask ourselves if any competing file format can touch PDF, as it has now become a globally accepted standard, and we ask ourselves if DjVu can even pull out of the sorry state it is in, to gain even some modest measure of market share.

Technically, the DjVu file format is a brilliant success, and in still addresses an outstanding need for a putting color and bitonal scans into small, seachable web documents, but without products and documentation that are open and easily-accessible to the public, and with a format-owner that remains protective and secretive instead of expansionist, the format may not survive to see even another anniversary.

We shall see what the future brings.

Happy 5th anniversary to DjVu!

For more information on the 10-year anniversary of PDF, see:

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