Session Intro – Track 1: What You Need to Know About PDF/A and PDF/A-2

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 English, French, German, Italian and Spanish.
Four interesting articles are included in this chapter, beginning with “PDF/A 101 – Introduction to PDF/A” by Raffaele Bernardinello of CMT Group, Italy. Raffaele describes in his article that PDF/A is the answer if a document format with nearly all the advantages of PDF is required (e.g. cross-platform availability, full colour support, full text retrieval, free available viewers for all platforms …), which also guarantees a certainty of reproduction, independent of the hardware or software used over the lifetime of the document.
This is a real requirement in many industries. For example, our customers – who are typically doing any kind of engineering – have to archive their drawings, specifications and documentation quite often for 30 years and longer. For them, TIFF/G4 was the only accepted archiving format in the past; some of them are in fact still storing their information on microfiche to guarantee persistent and certain reproducibility. Today however more and more of them, especially in critical industries like aerospace and defence, pharmaceutical industry or in the energy sector, are migrating to PDF/A as their unique archiving format.
When I describe PDF/A in a three minute talk, I like to say that, quite simply, 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 in general by Raffaele Bernardinello, Alessandro Beltrami from TechnoSolutions srl in Italy explains the role of PDF/A in the Graphic Arts (GA) world. File formats for the GA industry must be flexible on the one side and reliable in reproduction on the other side. PDF/X and PDF/A both offer flexibility and reliability, and will therefore coexist in the GA world in the future. This will especially be true after PDF/A-2 is released, offering more flexibility than PDF/A-1 does today.
Two articles follow which cover the two major sources of original documents. “Scan to PDF/A with OCR” by Carsten Heiermann of LuraTech discusses 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 includes the so-called “Digital-Born Documents”. Dr. Hans Bärfuss from PDF Tools AG, Switzerland, describes possible sources of digital documents and the options for converting these into PDF/A. He also discusses different use-cases like e-mail archiving and how PDF/A can help in such an application.

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

Leave a Reply