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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.
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What is a “Competence Center”?

The PDF Association started in 2006 as the “PDF/A Competence Center”. The mission was to identify – and thereby establish – a common interpretation of the PDF/A-1 specification. With that accomplished through meetings open to all members, the secondary …

“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 …

The carthorse method of automating transaction processing


Page from webpdf blogIt’s been possible to attach (almost) any file to a PDF since 2000. From .DOC and .PPT files to XML and more, file attachments allow PDF documents to serve as a combination zip archive and cover-note.

Like many other powerful features of our favorite file format, however, attachments have not garnered a lot of notice until recently. That’s changing rapidly, because there’s money to be saved.

As reliable, cross-platform electronic documents, PDF files have long provided a popular choice for invoices and other documents transacted between organizations during routine business. Few users to-date have leveraged PDF’s attachments feature to include a machine-readable version of the same invoice.

It’s a simple, powerful idea, and it’s time has come.

ZUGFeRD, a new electronic invoicing standard has arrived and it’s going to revolutionize transaction processing.  The German word for “cart horse”, ZUGFeRD is aptly named. This new standard leverages the reliability of PDF/A-3, the archival subset of PDF, to “carry” matching XML as an attachment to the printable representation. Both the structured XML file and the PDF’s pages represent the complete invoice. The receiver can choose which to process; XML, PDF or both.

In principle, this means that it is possible to exchange structured invoices without any prior consultation or agreement between the involved parties and without any agreement on the transmission itself. Users can phase in support for machine-readable invoices when they are ready to do so, and it’s not difficult to do.

Designed for an international context, ZUGFeRD 1.0 is based on the Cross Industry Invoice (CII) standard developed by the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) and the European Committee for Standardization’s (CEN) Message User Guides, for which the CII served as a basis.

Originally published in German in June, 2014, ZUGFERD 1.0 can now be downloaded in English at no cost: www.zugferd.de.

Electronic invoices… and beyond

The ZUGFeRD standard has the potential to revolutionize accounting procedures, reducing costs worldwide while delivering the assurance of a “hardcopy” representation. The idea of transacting other types of machine-readable data such as JSON as attachments to fixed, human-readable records is appealing across a wide spectrum of applications. We expect to see rapid expansion in this area.


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Categories: ZUGFeRD