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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.
More contributions
Participating in the PDF Techniques Accessibility Summit

The PDF Techniques Accessibility Summit’s objective is to establish a broad-based understanding of how PDF files should be tagged for accessibilty. It’s an opportunity to focus on establishing a common set of examples of accessible PDF content, and identify best-practice when tagging difficult cases.

Modernizing PDF Techniques for Accessibility

The PDF Techniques Accessibility Summit will identify best-practices in tagging various cases in PDF documents. Questions to be addressed will likely include: the legal ways to tag a nested list, the correct way to caption multiple images, the appropriate way to organize content within headings.

Refried PDF

My hospital emailed me a medical records release form as a PDF. They told me to print it, fill it, sign it, scan it and return it to the medical records department, in that order. In 2018? To get the form via email (i.e., electronically), yet be asked to print it? Did the last 20 years just… not mean anything! So I thought I’d be clever. I’d fill it first, THEN print it. Or better yet, never print it, but sign it anyhow, and return it along with a note making the case for improving their workflow. The story continues…

Slides and video recordings of PDF Days Europe 2018

You missed the PDF Days Europe 2018? Never mind! Here you can find the slides and video recordings of all 32 stunning sessions!

Using PDF/UA in accessibility checklists

PDF/UA, like PDF itself, is internally complex, but used correctly, actually makes things easier.

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