Ulrich Isermeyer, Sr. Business Development Manager, Adobe Systems GmbH, will be hosting a presentation titled “The power of 3D PDF” at the PDF Days Europe 2018. In this Interview he gives some background information about it.Six Questions to Duff Johnson, Executive Director at PDF Association
Our Executive Director Duff Johnson gives some personally information about his experience with the “PDF universe” and much more.Interview with Kevin Willems, Software Engineer at iText Software, about PDF Days Europe 2018
Kevin Willems, Software Engineer at iText Software, will be hosting a presentation titled “Redaction in electronic documents” at the PDF Days Europe 2018. In this interview Kevin gives some background information about it.Interview with Vel Genov, Senior Product Manager at Datalogics, about the PDF Days Europe 2018
Vel Genov, Senior Product Manager at Datalogics, will be hosting a presentation titled “Common PDF Interoperability Concerns” at the PDF Days Europe 2018. In this interview Vel gives some background information about it.Interview with Matt Kuznicki, CPO of Datalogics, about the PDF Days Europe 2018
Matt Kuznicki, CPO of Datalogics, will be hosting a presentation titled “PDF 2.0 Updates to Rendering and Color Processing” at the PDF Days Europe 2018. In this interview Matt gives some background information about it.
PDF technology profiles can be leveraged to provide trusted, predictable containers for record types that often present workflow and preservation challenges, with email and case files (associated files in arbitrary formats) as primary use-cases. Community-developed profiles can solve utilization, preservation and access challenges for specific domains.
PDF may be a relatively straightforward usage model away from a silver-bullet for archiving many types of electronic content, and useful in operational workflows as well. Using PDF as a vessel in which to transport other content and associated metadata is not a new idea, but it may be time to put it to work at scale.
Accepted worldwide as the de facto electronic document format, PDF includes embedded-file, metadata, navigation, data-protection and accessibility/reuse features in an ISO-standardized, vendor-independent specification. Various subset specifications cater to diverse needs in many different industries. Even as HTML implementations expand, PDF’s mindshare continues to grow.
PDF is a self-contained, platform-independent page-description model with electronic document features. PDF/A, the archival subset of PDF, ensures reliable archival-grade electronic documents, and accommodates virtually any arrangement of text and graphics that can be rendered.
This collection of features is unique to PDF. Add a profile describing appropriate usage for email archiving (for example) in a PDFcontainer… and then stand back to let the customer apply any content provisions or business rules they want. Collecting institutions will then know that email records retain necessary header information, metadata, links and attachments in a consistent structure that they may characterize, validate, maintain and provide access to in an efficient way.
There’s something about rendering
A former developer at Sun Microsystems explained their mid-1990s rendering-based “distributed ledger” methodology to me:
“This was a bit before blockchain. We’d digitally sign a document, then publish the resulting MD5 hash in the next day’s Boston Globe. As a certificate authority it left something to be desired, but it was the best way we could think of to indelibly record the signature.”
Although counter-intuitive to HTML-oriented developers, PDF’s unique feature-set make the format ideal for archiving email and “case files” – arbitrary collections of content.
Today’s PDF “portfolios” tease this idea, but are hobbled by the lack of a open best-practice or specification to leverage PDF attachments via an interoperable set of profiles for the long-term storage of email and collections of arbitrary data using PDF technology.
Why is PDF’s basis in a page-description model so important? Only a rendering can meet all handling requirements across the entire electronic document landscape. Accordingly, only an approach that considers rendering can readily accommodate existing rendered content. One clear example of this need is the case of information security.
Modern data-protection regulations (notably the GDPR, in effect in the EU by May, 2018) include penalties so stringent that they are driving businesses towards comprehensive control over the documents they keep. Data retention regulations, on the other hand, tend to demand information retention… and if redactions are necessary, to retain information about the redaction (volume, context, purpose, etc.) as well.
If documents and email are archived using data structures that do not include a rendering, the content may be somewhat easier for familiar software to re-use, but the fundamental need to retain content safely – and in a readily human-readable fashion – becomes difficult or impossible to meet.
A PDFcontainer model would leverage PDF to suit the email and case-files archiving use-case by using PDF’s features in the following way:
|Rendering||PDF/A presents a generic archival model for representing rendered electronic content.|
|Metadata||Appropriate metadata (such as that defined by PREMIS) may be included in the PDF using an XMP metadata schema identified in the PDFcontainer model. Content semantics may be preserved for reuse by way of tagged PDF.|
|Attachments||PDFcontainer files used for email archives would contain (and thus associate) email attachments with the baseline representation. The PDFcontainer model would include requirements and encourage best-practices in using this feature, including attachment identification and processing requirements and recommendations. If appropriate to the use-case, source-files (mailboxes) may also be embedded in the PDFcontainer.
For case-files, the PDFcontainer includes cover materials, tables of contents, indexes or other information as appropriate to the case file type. Associated files are included as attachments, with appropriate metadata stored in the containing PDF files XMP.
|Navigation||The PDFcontainer’s XMP metadata may be used to find attached documents; within these, outlines and links can provide rich navigation.|
|Data protection (contents)||Rendered page content may be authoritatively redacted using conventional (and long-standing) tools in an archival context.|
|Data protection (document)||PDF’s encryption facilities may be leveraged to protect the document in live workflow settings.|
|Authenticity||PDF’s digital signature facilities may be leveraged to verify authorship and prevent tampering.|
The German ZUGFeRD specification details the use of PDF/A-3 files in a live workflow for electronic invoicing purposes. The “human readable” PDF/A-3 invoice includes, as an attachment, a “machine-readable” XML version of the invoice. The result: automated invoice processing at a low cost and 100% ready for the archive.
Rendering, the process of resolving code into human-readable content, is what you do to make a sharable, accountable thing. As such, it’s rendering – not encoding – that is the truly meaningful act.
Mailbox files and proprietary source-content fit certain needs. These formats will never satisfy the universal requirement for a generic, self-contained and readily-consumable electronic record representing a given body of content at a given moment in time – its ‘rendering’. As such, PDF pages and XMP metadata, together with the other enabling features of the Portable Document Format, offer a practical and vendor-neutral, fully interoperable solution to archiving email and other static electronic content.
If the PDFcontainer concept interests you, let’s discuss it at PDF Days Europe this coming May!