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What is a form XObject?
Background A form XObject is a way of grouping a number of PDF objects together (they're basically containers).
For example I could take every element that makes up an ad and make a form XObject out of it. That could be done for a variety of reasons but the original reason was that a form XObject can be defined once in a PDF file but used several times. In my example that means I could include my ad once in the PDF and use it on page 2 and 17 of my document (saving space in the process).
Form XObjects are also used in the PDF transparency mechanism and there are applications that use Form XObjects because it has certain technical advantages, particularly when combining pages or parts of pages from multiple PDF documents.
Form XObjects are also used in OPI workflows where the low resolution preview of an image will be stored inside a Form XObject and the OPI information will be attached to the Form XObject.
You'll typically find Form XObjects in files generated by Distiller when OPI is involved, in files that contain transparency, in files generated or handled by imposition software and in files generated by Creo Pagelet.