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About the contributor
Susanne Meier

More contributions
What is a “Competence Center”?

The PDF Association started in 2006 as the “PDF/A Competence Center”. The mission was to identify – and thereby establish – a common interpretation of the PDF/A-1 specification. With that accomplished through meetings open to all members, the secondary …

“PDF can do THAT?!”

PDF files deliver a complete package of information that defines a document; everything that’s needed to represent the text, graphics and layout that the recipient receives. To most people, PDF is “electronic paper” – the digital expression of a cellul …

The only digital document format

What is a “document”? A document is a record of some (typically written) content – a publication, a contract, a statement, a painting – at a moment in time. Until the advent of computers (and scanners), the media typically considered useable for such r …

Save the Date: PDF Days Europe 2018, May 14-16, in Berlin

PDF Days Europe is the most popular PDF event of the year. It’s where the PDF industry meets, and where institutional and corporate users come to learn what else PDF could do for them. The first two PDF Days will offer a broad range of educational sessions focussed on current and perennial topics in the world of PDF technology implementation.

The Power of the Page

It’s a question that vexes vendors of web-based solutions everywhere: why do people still insist on PDF files? And why does PDF’s mindshare keep going up? “PDF is such antediluvian technology!” they say. “It’s pre-web, are you kidding me? It’s so old-f …

Output Management for SAP and PDF/A


SAP’s product range includes a powerful document management system (DMS). Its wide range of structuring options bring order to document-based business processes. Additional features are required, however, in order to ensure files meet certain quality standards (e.g. compliance with the PDF/A standard for long-term reproducibility.) The life cycle of a document is surrounded by a host of demands and corresponding solutions.

Business processes often result in large numbers of documents being stored in many different formats. However, not every format will remain stable over long periods of time. This is why, when first adding files to your SAP DMS which will remain relevant for long periods of time, it is essential to check whether these files comply with the PDF/A standard – and to modify them accordingly, if necessary. Other types of documents can be put through the same process later on – at the point of publication, for example.

“Living” documents – those which will continue to be processed over a given period of time – should be converted to a long-term format at the point of publication. The process can be triggered by a change in status or by an SAP workflow. SAP offers standard interfaces for handing files over to an external conversion system. Such a system will be able to convert standard graphical, printing or plotting formats to PDF/A, as well as Office, publishing and CAD files. If the SAP system requires a file to be converted to PDF/A and no standard interface is available, the external conversion solution will also offer a web service providing the same functionality.

Many paper-based documents leave the SAP system after only having been created at the point of printing (using data held by the system). SAP has an integrated form system for this purpose, but it lacks the ability to create a PDF/A file instead of (or as well as) the printed output – a feature which is sorely needed for applications such as invoicing. This need is met by integrating another system with the SAP printing process, diverting the print data stream where appropriate and instructing a separate server to prepare a PDF/A file. The finished PDF/A can then be returned to its original context, allowing the entire business process to be archived.

Johannes Hesel, board member, SEAL Systems AG, summarized the situation: “Many documents need to remain reproducible within SAP environments for long periods of time. External tools supporting PDF standards are needed to meet this goal.”


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Categories: PDF/A