Tarin Gamberini

A software engineer and a passionate java programmer

Adoption of Free Software PDF readers in Italian Regional Public Administrations

The campaign Free Software PDF Readers, launched by Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) in 2009, has achieved notable results at institutional levels:

  • In Germany, national parties gave statements in favour of free PDF readers and the German Government itself has recommended the usage of our text snippet in their migration guide (de). FSFE’s coordinator for Germany, Max Mehl, covers it in more detail on his blog.
  • In the EU: the European Parliament directly asked the European Commission what were the reasons for advertising a specific software and which steps were taken to solve this problem.

This campaign was based on three core principles we support at FSFE:

  • Neutrality: Public institutions should not engage in advertising
  • Freedom: Public institutions should not ask citizens to use non-Free Software
  • Open Standards: The versions of the PDF format which are Open Standards can be implemented by all PDF readers

Today, 6 years later since the campaign launch, I would check which was the state of the adoption of Free Software PDF readers by Italian Regional Public Administration.

Current State

Data collected are just rough figures because the are banally extracted searching for the string adobe reader into various Regional’s domain names.

Occurrence of the string adobe reader into Regional's domain (11/05/2015)
Results N.Italian RegionSearch string
2Molisesite:*regione.molise.it adobe reader
5Liguriasite:*regione.liguria.it adobe reader
8Umbriasite:*regione.umbria.it adobe reader
13Toscanasite:*regione.toscana.it adobe reader
16Valle d'Aostasite:*regione.vda.it adobe reader
19Marchesite:*regione.marche.it adobe reader
22Abruzzosite:*regione.abruzzo.it adobe reader
26Sardegnasite:*regione.sardegna.it adobe reader
30Calabriasite:*regione.calabria.it adobe reader
35Piemontesite:*regione.piemonte.it adobe reader
36Basilicatasite:*regione.basilicata.it adobe reader
37Pugliasite:*regione.puglia.it adobe reader
44Laziosite:*regione.lazio.it adobe reader
47Lombardiasite:*regione.lombardia.it adobe reader
49Venetosite:*regione.veneto.it adobe reader
60Campaniasite:*regione.campania.it adobe reader
62Siciliasite:*regione.sicilia.it adobe reader
86Friuli-Venezia Giuliasite:*regione.fvg.it adobe reader
89Emilia-Romagnasite:*regione.emilia-romagna.it adobe reader
771Trentino-Alto Adigesite:*regione.taa.it adobe reader

Another rough figures data is the comparing of the google search results of "adobe reader" OR "acrobat reader" OR "adobe acrobat reader" (in red in the graphic) and "lettore PDF libero" (in green in the graphic), still on regional domains, for example like:

  • site:*regione.abruzzo.it "adobe reader" OR "acrobat reader" OR "adobe acrobat reader"
  • site:*regione.abruzzo.it "lettore PDF libero"

In The Future

In the future Italian Regions could greatly demonstrate their interest in neutrality, freedom end open standards, if they committed:

  • to place side by side the current proprietary PDF readers' advertising with the equivalent Free Software PDF readers, by a link like “Download Free Software PDF readers” and with buttons and icons available at PDFreaders.org’s graphics section
  • to recommend in their web content production guidelines, and in their web application design guidelines, an appropriate section about how to support Free Software PDF readers, motivationally explaining the eventual support for proprietary PDF readers
  • to consider adding in their web content production training courses an appropriate situation focused on how to support Free Software PDF readers, motivationally explaining the eventual support for proprietary PDF readers


Interested Regions, and people who work in them, are invited to contact me (I will not share your e-mail address with anyone else) communicating any progress for example about:

  • the reduction of the adobe reader string’s occurrences (or other proprietary PDF readers' string) on their web sites
  • web addresses where guidelines, recommendations, etc…, were published

in order to publish an update to this post.

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