PDF Association logo.

Facebook
Twitter
YOUTUBE
LINKEDIN
XING
About the contributor
PDF Association

Mission Statement: To promote Open Standards-based electronic document implementations using PDF technology through education, expertise and shared experience for stakeholders worldwide.
More contributions
Save-The-Date: PDF Day France, Toulouse, April 4, 2019

PDF Day France will be the first French-speaking event of the PDF Association, organised by our member ORPALIS. It will take place in Toulouse which is the home ground of Airbus and we are very happy that Airbus will present a case study around its usage of PDF in their document management environment!

Electronic Document Conference: Call for Papers

Prospective presenters at the Electronic Document Conference 2019 are invited to submit high-quality original proposals for 25-minute presentations on subjects of interest to developers and technical product managers concerned with electronic document implementations.

Have we passed ‘peak PDF’?

How do we gain insight into how users’ views of documents are shifting? Google Trends is an increasingly interesting source of high-level marketplace data. By aggregating Google’s search data over time, reporting a term’s popularity as compared with all other searches.

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.

Members supporting PDF features!

The typical adoption curve for PDF technologies until approximately 2007 tended to track with that of the original PDF developer. Since then the marketplace has shifted; it’s no longer clear that Adobe drivesPDF feature support worldwide. Accordingly, we are happy to report that adoption of PDF 2.0 continues apace, with new vendors announcing their support every month.

PDF/A facts – an introduction to the standard

Current file formats used by popular applications are simply not suitable for public authorities, businesses and individual users needing to store unalterable digital documents for long periods of time. Word processors such as Microsoft Word or OpenOffice Writer create files which can look very different depending on the platform used to view them. Text and images may appear different than intended – or they may not appear at all. Nowadays, there are also the questions of how these programs will develop in the future, and whether or not it will still be possible to open and view older files – an unacceptable risk when considering the timescales involved in long-term archiving.

PDF/A is an industry-recognised ISO standard. Future software development must reflect the need to work reliably with these documents.

An archiving format

When using email or the internet to distribute carefully designed documents containing text and images, users are increasingly choosing PDF. After all, the Portable Document Format can embed all elements of a document within itself. This can include fonts and images, but also 3D objects, audio and video. Embedded fonts are optional; it is also possible (in order to save on file size, for example) to link to one instead. This, however, carries the risk that not all machines will correctly display the PDF.

PDF has also gained such broad worldwide acceptance because free programs exist for all devices and operating systems to view PDF documents. Whether viewed on a tablet, a smartphone or a desktop computer, a PDF file will usually look the same.

Document archives, however, require an exceptionally high standard: the content must always appear exactly the same under all circumstances. Particularly because of its universal availability and worldwide acceptance, it makes sense to build on PDF to create an archiving standard for digital documents.

Why PDF/A and not just PDF?

Put in the simplest possible terms, PDF/A is a PDF which forbids certain functions which could hinder long-term archiving. PDF/A also demands that the file meet certain requirements which guarantee reliable reproduction.

For example, files must not be encrypted with a password, as all content must always be fully available. Embedded video and audio data are also prohibited: PDF/A consciously avoids anything that requires external software for display or playback. JavaScript and certain actions are also forbidden, as executing them could potentially alter the PDF.

PDF/A also places higher demands on the information it contains. All required fonts (or at least all glyphs for the specific characters used) must be embedded within the PDF. To ensure a uniform colour appearance on a variety of platforms and devices, colour information must be given in a platform-independent format using ICC colour profiles. The software must also use the XMP format for metadata (which is used to store the data identifying the file as a PDF/A, for example).

PDF/A also sets technical limits: for example, the page size is limited to an edge length of either 5.08 metres (PDF/A-1) or up to 381 kilometres (PDF/A-2 and PDF/A-3).

< previousoverviewnext >


Tags: ISO Standard, XMP
Categories: PDF, PDF/A, XMP