About the contributor
Duff Johnson

A veteran of the electronic document space, Duff Johnson is an independent consultant, Executive Director of the PDF Association and ISO Project co-Leader (and US TAG chair) for ISO 32000 and ISO 14289.
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Five reasons developers should participate in PDF Days Europe

PDF Days Europe, the annual PDF technology education event, will take place from 14 to 16 May 2018 in Berlin at the Hotel Steglitz International. Of the many good reasons for developers to participate, here are five of the best.

5 reasons why those implementing electronic document technologies should attend PDF Days Europe

PDF Days Europe, the annual PDF technology education event, will take place from 14 to 16 May 2018 in Berlin at the Hotel Steglitz International. Of the many good reasons for users to participate, here are five of the best.

2018 PDF 2.0 Interop Workshop

Following the success of our previous interop workshops in Cambridge, England and Boston, Massachusetts, the 3rd PDF 2.0 Interop Workshop takes place on May 16, 2018 as part of the post-conference program immediately following this year’s PDF Days Euro …

Post-Conference of PDF Days Europe 2018 in Berlin

On Wednesday, May 16, 2018, directly following PDF Days Europe, the PDF Days Post-Conference offers a variety of workshops on PDF 2.0 Interop or PDF/UA.

PDF Days Europe 2018 – schedule of sessions

Fittingly for the tenth anniversary of PDF’ becoming an ISO standard, standardization will play a significant role this year. The focus will be on recent developments, with an eye on the future. The agenda also includes PDF market analyses, next-generation PDF for mobile devices, universally accessible PDF files and the industry-supported veraPDF validator initiative.

PDF/A Competence Center at ARMA Conference & Exposition

Scenes from ARMA 2011ARMA International, the professional association for records-managers, held its 56th annual conference and exposition at the Gaylord National Hotel near Washington DC over October 17th and 18th. The PDF Association’s PDF/A Competence Center booth was there to educate vendors and attendees alike on the value of PDF/A in records management and of International Standards for PDF in general.

Staffing the PDF Association’s booth was Duff Johnson, Vice-Chair of the PDF Association and Jeff Howcroft of NetCentric, a partner member of the PDF Association.

Over the course of two days we spoke with dozens of records-management professionals and vendors and learned a few details of interest to PDF Association members.

  • Awareness of PDF/A is widespread in both government and the private sector. The subject arose several times during ARMA’s educational sessions; attendees visited our booth to learn more.
  • Government agencies are looking to International Standards in general as a guide to their technology procurement.
  • The overwhelming majority of attendees stated that they were either already implementing PDF/A or had near-term plans to do so.

Of the questions we received at the booth the following came up several times or were otherwise of note:

  • Is PDF/A a means of making a file unalterable?
  • How can “PDF/A mode” be deactivated in Adobe Reader and Acrobat?
  • Why can’t I add notes to a PDF/A file as I can to all other PDFs?
  • What’s the relationship between PDF/A and digital signatures, and how can both features be accommodated in a document retention workflow?
  • Do I need PDF/A-1 or PDF/A-2?
  • Do I need to worry about the conformance levels?
  • Are wingdings, webdings and other “symbol fonts” permitted in PDF/A?

The greatest problem encountered with PDF/A was the inability (in some implementations) to alter a document marked as complying with ISO 19005. This “feature” was regarded as an unwanted interference in document management workflows. A typical comment: “Why does PDF/A lock the document? What if I need to replace a page?”

Key Observations

  • The “read only” aspect of Acrobat’s “PDF/A Mode” was raised several times, with some booth visitors noting that it made editing cumbersome.
  • Workflows that combine PDF/A and digital signatures are of great interest to records-managers, but require substantial explanation.
  • Conformance Level U is of great interest to records-managers. Once explained, most attendees tended to regard this conformance level (newly introduced in ISO 19005-2) as vital. Some were shocked that the ability to reliably extract text was not included in the conformance level B software they have or plan to acquire.

Tags: ARMA, records management
Categories: Archives & Libraries, Digital Signatures, Government, Legal, PDF/A