Session Intro – Track 1: What You Need to Know About PDF/A

Session Chair: Thomas Zellmann, PDF/A Competence Center, Member of the Board

The articles in this chapter contain the conference presentations from Track 1: What you need to know about PDF/A, for novice to intermediate level users.

Track 1 covers the basics of PDF/A and, after reading, you should have a fairly good overview of the format. More detailed information about PDF/A can be found in the subsequent chapters, or also in the PDF/A Competence Center’s “bible”: “PDF/A in a Nutshell”. The book is a very good follow-up to the lectures and is available in German and French, with additional languages in the works.

Three interesting articles are included in this chapter, beginning with PDF/A 101 by Stephen Poe of Crawford Technologies Inc., Canada. 101 is a very American – sorry, “Canadian” title and it talks about the archiving requirements which led to the standardisation of PDF/A. The history of the standardisation is covered with an outlook to the upcoming PDF/A-2 extension of the standard. The article also describes the do’s and don’ts which a PDF/A file must obey.

To demonstrate that PDF/A is a standard based on practical experience from users, and not just on academic theory, I like to cite an example from Airbus. Airbus has to store the engineering documents of their aircraft for 99 years. Before the PDF/A standard, they had an internal working group which found that PDF is a good and modern format, but has too many features which may endanger long-term archiving. Therefore, they defined a so-called “minimal PDF”, and this is exactly the bottom line of PDF/A! And obviously, Airbus is large PDF/A user today.

When I describe PDF/A in a three minute talk, I like to say that, quite simply put, PDF/A is just a subset of PDF that ensures long-term readability and through it, every PDF becomes a good PDF.

After the introduction and description of PDF/A by Stephen Poe, two articles follow which cover the two major sources of original documents.

“PDF/A for Scanned Documents” by Carsten Heiermann of LuraTech talks about documents that began as a piece of paper. The scanning of documents has been carried out for a long time already and Carsten compares the older electronic formats with PDF/A. He describes the new and modern features which PDF/A allows for in scanned documents like high compression, metadata, colour scanning and full-text OCR.

The second group of documents are the so-called “Digital Born Documents”. Dr. Hans Bärfuss from PDF Tools AG, Switzerland, describes the possible sources of digital documents and the options to convert these into PDF/A. He also discusses the different use-cases like e-mail archiving, and how PDF/A can help in such an application.

The ‘world picture’ of the PDF/A Competence Center provides a good summary for this introduction.

The ‘world picture’ of the PDF/A Competence Center provides a good summary for this introduction.

I would like to thank the authors for their excellent contribution of articles, and hope the chapter makes a worthwhile reading for you!

About Thomas Zellmann

Thomas Zellmann ist seit über 30 Jahren in der EDV tätig und hat daher umfangreiche Erfahrungen mit klassischen und modernen IT-Lösungen. Er hat seine Tätigkeit für LuraTech in 2001 begonnen. Vor der LuraTech war er u.a. für die Softmatic AG, die Software AG und Nixdorf tätig. Thomas Zellmann betreut den Schwerpunkt Banken und Versicherungen sowie Archive und Bibliotheken und ist Gesellschafter der LuraTech.
Als Geschäftsführer der PDF Association ist er für die Koordinierung und Durchführung der meisten Aktivitäten der PDF Association zuständig.
Sie erreichen Thomas Zellmann unter  thomas.zellmann@pdfa.org

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