Worldly Exposure

Every person has a particular set of experiences they search for when choosing an occupation. For me, I’ve always be fascinated with the act and process of discovery. Thankfully, helping to build and maintain PDFTextStream satisfies that fascination in spades in ways that I never anticipated. One would assume that working on a piece of software that extracts text from PDF documents would be pretty dry work. And, to a certain extent, it is: supporting all of the intricacies and minutiae associated with a complex file format like PDF is not the most thrilling software development work. However, what can be exciting about the experience is how it forces me to be exposed to things that I never would have seen otherwise. See, in order to ensure that PDFTextStream works well and continues to do so as it is improved and changed, we have developed a suite of test PDF documents. These documents must be examined one by one, fed into PDFTextStream, and records of the documents’ logical structure and text content saved off into what are called ‘ground truth’ files. Then, whenever a change is made to PDFTextStream, our automated tests compare all of the preexisting ground truth files with what PDFTextStream provides after it has been changed. This process of constantly tracking the impact of changes to PDFTextStream is critical in ensuring that it continues to be robust, providing high-quality output. The point here though, is that the process of building up and maintaining our suite of PDF documents (which numbers in the thousands now) exposes us to documents from nearly every corner of human activity. That’s thrilling for me, as I get the option to read about things that I never would have come across had I not been involved in PDFTextStream. For example, our test suite includes PDF documents like: As you can see, the list goes on and on and on. The world of human knowledge and experience is functionally infinite, but I love getting glimpses of obscure corners of it and making little personal discoveries. Pretty geeky, I know, but that’s not really surprising, is it?