About the contributor
Thomas Zellmann

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“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 …

PDF Association technical resources: an overview

PDF is PDF because files produced with one vendor’s software can be read using a different vendor’s software with no loss of fidelity. Interoperability is key to our industry. The PDF Association is a international membership organization dedicated to …

Session Intro – Track 1: What You Need to Know About PDF/A

The articles in this chapter contain the conference presentations from Track 1: What you need to know about PDF/A, for novice to intermediate level users.

Track 1 covers the basics of PDF/A and, after reading, you should have a fairly good overview of the format. More detailed information about PDF/A can be found in the subsequent chapters, or also in the PDF/A Competence Center’s “bible”: “PDF/A in a Nutshell”. The book is a very good follow-up to the lectures and is available in German and French, with additional languages in the works.

Three interesting articles are included in this chapter, beginning with PDF/A 101 by Stephen Poe of Crawford Technologies Inc., Canada. 101 is a very American – sorry, “Canadian” title and it talks about the archiving requirements which led to the standardisation of PDF/A. The history of the standardisation is covered with an outlook to the upcoming PDF/A-2 extension of the standard. The article also describes the do’s and don’ts which a PDF/A file must obey.

To demonstrate that PDF/A is a standard based on practical experience from users, and not just on academic theory, I like to cite an example from Airbus. Airbus has to store the engineering documents of their aircraft for 99 years. Before the PDF/A standard, they had an internal working group which found that PDF is a good and modern format, but has too many features which may endanger long-term archiving. Therefore, they defined a so-called “minimal PDF”, and this is exactly the bottom line of PDF/A! And obviously, Airbus is large PDF/A user today.

When I describe PDF/A in a three minute talk, I like to say that, quite simply put, PDF/A is just a subset of PDF that ensures long-term readability and through it, every PDF becomes a good PDF.

After the introduction and description of PDF/A by Stephen Poe, two articles follow which cover the two major sources of original documents.

“PDF/A for Scanned Documents” by Carsten Heiermann of LuraTech talks about documents that began as a piece of paper. The scanning of documents has been carried out for a long time already and Carsten compares the older electronic formats with PDF/A. He describes the new and modern features which PDF/A allows for in scanned documents like high compression, metadata, colour scanning and full-text OCR.

The second group of documents are the so-called “Digital Born Documents”. Dr. Hans Bärfuss from PDF Tools AG, Switzerland, describes the possible sources of digital documents and the options to convert these into PDF/A. He also discusses the different use-cases like e-mail archiving, and how PDF/A can help in such an application.

The ‘world picture’ of the PDF/A Competence Center provides a good summary for this introduction.
The ‘world picture’ of the PDF/A Competence Center provides a good summary for this introduction.

I would like to thank the authors for their excellent contribution of articles, and hope the chapter makes a worthwhile reading for you!

Tags: 3rd International PDF/A Conference, Proceedings
Categories: Architecture, Engineering & Construction, Archives & Libraries, PDF/A