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About the contributor
Olaf Drümmer

Olaf Drümmer is founder and managing director of callas software, a Berlin/Germany based company specializing in PDF analysis and processing, and of axaio software, developer of software extensions for Adobe Indesign and QuarkXPress. In addition he has been actively involved in the development of PDF standards within ISO since 1999.
More contributions
PDF 2.0 examples now available

The PDF Association is proud to present the first PDF 2.0 example files made available to the public. Created and donated to the PDF Association by Datalogics, this initial set of PDF 2.0 examples were crafted by hand and intentionally made simple in construction to serve as teaching tools for learning PDF file structure and syntax.

PDF 2.0 interops help vendors

The PDF 2.0 interop workshops included many vendors with products for creating, editing and processing PDF files. They came together in Boston, Massachusetts for a couple of days to test their own software against 3rd party files.

PDF Days Europe underscores the importance of PDF as a key component of business processes

2017 marks a record number of attendees / Experts shared fully-grounded wisdom on PDF standards across the two-day event Berlin. With over 200 attendees, this year’s PDF Days Europe in Berlin was a significant success with the largest attendance of any …

Slides and video recordings of the PDF Days Europe 2017

About 35 informative sessions across a wide range of topics, including the next-generation PDF project. Within the video frames you can use the red “play” button to get a short impression of the talk or can enjoy the high resolution version by clicking …

PDF Days Europe 2017 hits the target!

With more than 200 participants, this year’s PDF Days Europe was the largest to-date. Early feedback from attendees makes clear that it was also a great success.

Session Intro – Track 3: Metadata – Data about PDF/A Data


When around 2002 the committee that created the PDF/A standard decided to rely on XMP (eXtensible Metadata Platform) for the inclusion of metadata in PDF/A files they probably had no clue which developments it would kick off in the years to come. Being a brand new technology – invented by Adobe and first presented in 2001, being on open specification, publicly available for anyone to use – very few fully understood the implications.

When developers – especially those who work together in the Technical Working Group of the PDF/A Competence Center – realized the impact of these “metadata in PDF/A” provisions, not all of them had a smile on their face. At first glance these provisions appeared to be overly strict and unnecessarily convoluted. Metadata has rarely been fun to deal with, but now for many it seemed to turn from inconvenient to painful.

But don’t be fooled! By now the support for XMP metadata has been implemented in numerous applications, and in many instances offers very elegant ways to review or enter XMP metadata. Quite frequently a user wouldn’t even realize that metadata are stored in XMP format – it just works. And software vendors as well developed a much better understanding of how to best deal with metadata both in the form of XMP as well as in the context of other previously introduced formats like IPTC or EXIF.

Admittedly the matter of metadata is slightly more demanding in PDF/A – and for a good reason: The PDF/A standard manages to make the metadata side of PDF based archiving as reliable as the content side. While this comes at a price, it does not pose unsurmountable problems. Some familiarity with the principles of metadata in general and those of XMP in particular will be a prerequisite though.

The same way everyone in the software industry by now had to “learn” Unicode when dealing with text intelligently, everyone now has to become fluent with metadata in the form of XMP, at least when dealing with PDF, and specifically PDF/A for archiving. And for the same reason we do not want to go back “before Unicode”, we will not want to go back “before XMP” – too much valuable information would be lost, and too much ambiguity would persist.

Of course there is no rose without a thorn. Organisations who have embarked on the journey to “XMP metadata in PDF/A land” have had to learn a lesson or two, though I dare say it has always been worth the effort. At least that’s the conclusion both Jan-Michael Rehn from Bosch and Klaus Baumeister from the European Patent Office come to, when they explain their respective projects of using XMP metadata in PDF/A files.

Those who always thought there is no fun ever to be had with metadata may want to revisit their position after taking in the thoughts of Frank Biederich from Adobe, who provides the introduction to the metadata track.
Guidance towards “XMP Metadata in PDF/A” on a more technical level is offered by Thomas Merz from PDFlib, who has been successful many times at previous occasions to make it easy for non-geeks to understand the essentials of the XMP format and its use in PDF/A.


Tags: 3rd International PDF/A Conference, Proceedings, XMP, metadata
Categories: Government, PDF/A, XMP