PDF/A Competence Center Newsletter: Issue 6

Topics include Isartor test suite for PDF/A, metadata in PDF/A and the DMS Expo.

Table of Contents

  • Current News:
    • Isartor Test Suite for PDF/A-1
    • The PDF/A Competence Center at the DMS Expo 2008
    • XMP Metadaten in PDF/A
  • PDF/A Competence Center Members Introduce Themselves:
    • PDFlib GmbH
  • New Executive Committee





Thomas Merz

Dear PDF/A Community,

PDF/A has arrived! Two years after the founding of the PDF/A Competence Center we can measure the success of PDF/A based on the increasing number of members and of course on the numerous products available that support PDF/A. Following PDF/A’s comparatively quick start for an archiving standard, it has now achieved a critical milestone that offers even more benefits than just the technical advantages of the standard. We are pleased that the PDF/A Competence Center’s Technical Working Group (TWG) can provide PDF/A developers from around the globe with technical details and support, thus assisting a speedy implementation.

In addition to current events and happenings, this issue will also inform you about metadata in PDF/A, a subject that is very dear to me and that plays an important role in PDFlib’s products. XMP metadata and PDF/A go hand-in-hand.

Thomas Merz
Executive Committee Member
PDF/A Competence Center


Isartor Test Suite for PDF/A-1

On August 21, 2008, the PDF/A Competence Center published the Isartor Test Suite for PDF/A-1. This test suite can be used to confirm if a PDF/A validation tool can reliably recognize and correctly report all potential infractions to the ISO standard. By using the more than 200 files in the Isartor test suite, users and developers can test the quality of their validation software. Validators that are verified in this manner build an important cornerstone of a solid PDF/A implementation strategy.

The test suite was created by the Technical Working Group (TWG), who examined countless detailed questions during several intensive discussions. Through this process, that included both developers of PDF creation products as well as producers of validation software, we identified a common interpretation of the technical aspects of the standard. The test suite constitutes a common basis for developers and an important reference point for users. Several companies already offer products for creating or validating PDF/A that meet the specifications of the Isartor test suite. This applies in particular to Acrobat 9.

The PDF/A Competence Center at the DMS Expo 2008

The PDF/A Competence Center is extremely satisfied with the results of this year’s DMS Expo. A well-attended seminar the day before the fair as well as a full plenum during the forum and countless discussions at the association’s joint stand demonstrated the high level of interest in PDF/A.

For the second year in a row, the PDF/A Competence Center was represented at the DMS Expo with a collective stand. The achievements of the 2007 fair were exceeded in all aspects. The seminar held the day prior to the fair was well attended, with participants spending a half day in a quiet environment learning all about the ISO standard for long-term archiving, its areas of application and advantages.

The forum held on each of the three days of the fair also attracted a large number of visitors. The presentations included such topics as the differences between PDF/A and other archiving formats, archiving strategies, the real-life application of PDF/A with document management and archiving systems, and digital input and output solutions.

The exhibitors at the associations’ joint stand, Adobe Systems, callas software, Cartago Software, Compart Systemhaus, DETEC Decision Technology, Global Graphics, icon Systemhaus, intarsys, Janich & Klass, LRS Levi, Ray & Shoup, LuraTech Europe, PDFlib, PDF Tools and SEAL Systems were more than satisfied with the numerous conversations and new contacts they received.

XMP Metadaten in PDF/A

The expression »metadata« literally means »data about data«. Metadata portray a sort of calling card for a digital document, with a set of properties that companies can use to organize their archive data.

The eXtensible Metadata Platform (XMP) is based on XML and on the Resource Description Framework (RDF) that was developed by W3C for the web. Abode not only makes the XMP specification available free of charge, they also offer an open-source XMP toolkit for software developers. The XMP specification is comprised of more than a dozen predefined schemas with hundreds of properties for ordinary document and image characteristics. The most commonly used schema is the Dublin Core, which contains general properties like title, creator, subject and description. In addition, user-defined schemas can be created for company or industry specific metadata. XMP for PDF documents was introduced with Acrobat 5 and PDF 1.4 in the year 2001.

PDF/A requires the use of XMP for identifying the conformance of PDF documents to PDF/A-1a or -1b. The predefined XMP schemas like Dublin Core fulfill many metadata requirements; company or industry specific requirements can only be covered by user-defined XMP schemas. PDF/A-1 supports the use of so-called extension schemas for this purpose. In order to ensure that the extension schemas can be correctly interpreted in the future, PDF/A-1 requires that a description of all extension schemas used is embedded in XMP.

Examples of such customer and industry specific requirements on the metadata schema are for example machine construction plans or a scanned archive of technical documents. Typical metadata properties in such cases are for instance the year of manufacture or the machine’s product number that are noted in the document, or the date scanned and other details of the conversion process. If documents contain meaningful metadata, these can be used when searching for and through documents. A structured search in metadata is much more powerful than an unstructured search through the full-text content.

Further technical information:
Technical Note TN0008: Predefined XMP Properties in PDF/A-1 This TechNote describes the predefined XMP properties that can be used in PDF/A-1 without need of an extension schema.

Technical Note TN0009: XMP Extension Schemas in PDF/A-1 This TechNote explains the construction of XMP extension schemas and contains in addition explanations about syntax requirements of XMP. The document includes a complete example of an extension schema.


PDFlib GmbH

By Thomas Merz, President PDFlib GmbH

PDFlib GmbH specializes in the development of PDF technology. PDFlib products have been in use worldwide since 1997. The company takes into consideration important technology trends, for example the ISO standards for PDF.

As a founding member of the PDF/A Competence Center, PDFlib also stresses the significance of the PDF/A archiving standard. Thomas Merz, president of PDFlib GmbH, serves as head of the Technical Working Group and oversees in this capacity the development of the Isartor-Testsuite for PDF/A validators. Thomas Merz sees the metadata aspect as a further area of focus for PDF/A: “Our customers have to organize their archives and make them searchable based on certain criteria – our tools can be used to help them parameterize their PDF/A documents with metadata in order to improve their searchability.”

PDFlib GmbH sells all of their products worldwide, whereby North America, Europe and Japan constitute the most important markets.

More information about PDFlib GmbH can be found at: www.PDFlib.com


During the PDF/A Competence Center member’s meeting held at the beginning of September, Johannes Hesel of SEAL Systems AG was voted in as a seventh member of the executive committee. Afterwards, the executive committee appointed Harald Grumser from Compart Systemhaus GmbH as the new committee chairman, replacing Thomas Zellmann from LuraTech Europe GmbH in this function. Thomas Zellmann will remain as a member of the executive committee.

About PDF/A Competence Center

The first of the PDF Association's Competence Centers.

Leave a Reply