PDF/A

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PDF/A
Filename extension.pdf
Internet media typeapplication/pdf
Type code'PDF ' (including a single space)
Uniform Type Identifier (UTI)com.adobe.pdf
Magic number%PDF
Developed byISO
Initial release2005 (2005)
Latest release / 2012; 2 years ago (2012)
Extended fromPDF
StandardISO 19005[1][2]
 
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PDF/A
Filename extension.pdf
Internet media typeapplication/pdf
Type code'PDF ' (including a single space)
Uniform Type Identifier (UTI)com.adobe.pdf
Magic number%PDF
Developed byISO
Initial release2005 (2005)
Latest release / 2012; 2 years ago (2012)
Extended fromPDF
StandardISO 19005[1][2]

PDF/A is an ISO-standardized version of the Portable Document Format (PDF) specialized for the digital preservation of electronic documents.[3]

PDF/A differs from PDF by prohibiting features ill-suited to long-term archiving, such as font linking (as opposed to font embedding).[3]

The ISO requirements for PDF/A file viewers include color management guidelines, support for embedded fonts, and a user interface for reading embedded annotations.

Standards[edit]

PDF/A-1 is based on the PDF Reference Version 1.4 from Adobe Systems Inc. (implemented in Adobe Acrobat 5 and later versions) and is defined by ISO 19005-1:2005, an ISO Standard that was published on October 1, 2005: Document Management – Electronic document file format for long term preservation – Part 1: Use of PDF 1.4 (PDF/A-1)[1]

PDF/A-2 is based on ISO 32000-1 – PDF 1.7 and is defined by ISO 19005-2:2011, published on June 20, 2011 under the formal name Document management – Electronic document file format for long-term preservation – Part 2: Use of ISO 32000-1 (PDF/A-2).[2]

PDF/A-3 is based on ISO 32000-1 – PDF 1.7 and is defined by ISO 19005-3:2012, published on October 15, 2012 under the formal name Document management -- Electronic document file format for long-term preservation -- Part 3: Use of ISO 32000-1 with support for embedded files (PDF/A-3).[4]

ISO 19005 - Document management - Electronic document file format for long-term preservation (PDF/A)
PartNameFormal nameRelease dateStandardBased on PDF version
Part 1PDF/A-1Use of PDF 1.4 (PDF/A-1)2005ISO 19005-1PDF 1.4 (Adobe Systems, PDF Reference third edition, 2001)
Part 2PDF/A-2Use of ISO 32000-1 (PDF/A-2)2011ISO 19005-2PDF 1.7 (ISO 32000-1:2008)
Part 3PDF/A-3Use of ISO 32000-1 with support for embedded files (PDF/A-3)2012ISO 19005-3PDF 1.7 (ISO 32000-1:2008)

Background[edit]

PDF is a standard for encoding documents in an "as printed" form that is portable between systems. However, the suitability of a PDF file for archival preservation depends on options chosen when the PDF is created: most notably, whether to embed the necessary fonts for rendering the document; whether to use encryption; and whether to preserve additional information from the original document beyond what is needed to print it.

PDF/A was originally a new joint activity between The Association for Suppliers of Printing, Publishing and Converting Technologies (NPES) and the Association for Information and Image Management to develop an International standard defining the use of the Portable Document Format (PDF) for archiving documents.[5] The goal was to address the growing need to electronically archive documents in a way that would ensure preservation of their contents over an extended period of time and ensure that those documents would be able to be retrieved and rendered with a consistent and predictable result in the future.[6] This need exists in a wide variety of government and industry areas world-wide, including legal systems, libraries, newspapers, and regulated industries.[7]

Description[edit]

The PDF/A standard does not define an archiving strategy or the goals of an archiving system. It identifies a "profile" for electronic documents that ensures the documents can be reproduced exactly the same way using various software in years to come. A key element to this reproducibility is the requirement for PDF/A documents to be 100% self-contained. All of the information necessary for displaying the document in the same manner is embedded in the file. This includes, but is not limited to, all content (text, raster images and vector graphics), fonts, and color information. A PDF/A document is not permitted to be reliant on information from external sources (e.g. font programs and data streams), but may include annotations (e.g. hypertext links) that link to external documents.[6]

Other key elements to PDF/A conformance include:[8][9][10]

Conformance levels and versions[edit]

PDF/A-1[edit]

The standard specifies two levels of compliance for PDF files:

PDF/A-1b's objective of ensuring reliable reproduction of the visual appearance of the document.

PDF/A-1a includes all the requirements of PDF/A-1b and additionally requires:[11]

PDF/A-1a's objective is to ensure that document content can be searched and repurposed.

The requirements for Level A conformance place greater responsibilities on writers preparing conforming files, but these requirements allow for a higher level of document preservation service and confidence over time. Level A conformance is intended to facilitate the accessibility of conforming files for physically impaired users, but does not include the technical specificity required for assuring accessibility as does PDF/UA.[12]

According to the specification, the following terms are recommended when referring to the ISO 19005-1:2005 specification when the full ISO name is not being used:

PDF/A-2[edit]

PDF/A-2 is the second part of ISO 19005. PDF/A-2 address some of the new features added with versions 1.5, 1.6 and 1.7 of the PDF Reference. PDF/A-1 files will not necessarily conform to PDF/A-2, and PDF/A-2 compliant files will not necessarily conform to PDF/A-1.

Part 2 of the PDF/A Standard is based on a PDF 1.7 (ISO 32000-1), rather than PDF 1.4 and offers a number of new features:

Part 2 defines three conformance levels. PDF/A-2a, PDF/A-2b correspond to conformance levels a and b in PDF/A-1. A new conformance level, PDF/A-2u, represents Level B conformance (PDF/A-2b) with the additional requirement that all text in the document have Unicode mapping.[11][13]

PDF/A-3[edit]

PDF/A-3 (ISO 19005-3:2012. Part 3) differs from PDF/A-2 in only one regard - it allows embedding of arbitrary file formats (such as XML, CSV, CAD, word-processing documents, spreadsheet documents and others) into PDF/A conforming documents.[14]

The PDF/A-3 specification was published on October 17, 2012.[15]

Establishing Conformance[edit]

Many vendors license software claiming to produce PDF files that conform to PDF/A.

Industry collaboration in the PDF/A Competence Center[16] following release of PDF/A-1 in 2006 led to development of the Isartor Test Suite[17] in 2008. Isartor consists of a set of PDF files intentionally constructed to systematically fail each of the requirements for PDF/A-1b, allowing developers to check the ability of their software to conform to the first part of the standard.

The PDF/A Competence Center's Technical Working Group is currently developing a test suite for PDF/A-2 and PDF/A-3.

Identification[edit]

A PDF/A document can be identified as such through PDF/A-specific metadata located in the "http://www.aiim.org/pdfa/ns/id/" namespace. This metadata represents a claim of conformance; in itself it does not assure conformance:

PDF/A viewer mode[edit]

The PDF/A specification also states some requirements for a conforming PDF/A reader, which must

When encountering a file that claims conformance with PDF/A, some PDF viewers will default to a special "PDF/A viewing mode" to fulfill conforming reader requirements. To take one example, Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader 9 include an alert to advise the user that PDF/A viewing mode has been activated. Although not required by the PDF/A specification, Adobe Acrobat 9's PDF/A viewer mode disables functions for changing the document; this functionality was changed in Adobe Acrobat XI. Some PDF viewers allow users to disable the PDF/A viewing mode or to remove the PDF/A information from a file.[19][20]

Drawbacks[edit]

A PDF/A document must embed all fonts in use; accordingly, a PDF/A file will often be bigger than an equivalent PDF file that does not include embedded fonts.

The use of transparency is forbidden in PDF/A-1. The majority of PDF generation tools that allow for PDF/A document compliance, such as the PDF export in OpenOffice.org or PDF export tool in Microsoft Office 2007 suites, will also make any transparent images in a given document non-transparent. That restriction was removed in PDF/A-2.[8]

Some archivists have voiced concerns that PDF/A-3, which allows arbitrary files to be embedded in PDF/A documents, could result in circumvention of memory institution procedures and restrictions on archived formats.[21]

The PDF Association had addressed various misconceptions[22] regarding PDF/A in its publication "PDF/A in a Nutshell 2.0".

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b ISO (2005). "ISO 19005-1:2005 – Document management – Electronic document file format for long-term preservation – Part 1: Use of PDF 1.4 (PDF/A-1)". Retrieved 2011-07-06. 
  2. ^ a b ISO (2011-06-20). "ISO 19005-2:2011 – Document management – Electronic document file format for long-term preservation – Part 2: Use of ISO 32000-1 (PDF/A-2)". Retrieved 2011-07-06. 
  3. ^ a b PDF/A facts – an introduction to the standard, retrieved 2014-07-11 
  4. ^ ISO 19005-3:2012 - Document management -- Electronic document file format for long-term preservation -- Part 3: Use of ISO 32000-1 with support for embedded files (PDF/A-3), retrieved 2012-10-23 
  5. ^ A short history of PDF/A, retrieved 2014-07-11 
  6. ^ a b The most important reasons to use PDF/A, retrieved 2014-07-11 
  7. ^ Typical uses for PDF/A, retrieved 2014-07-11 
  8. ^ a b "PDF/A – A Look at the Technical Side". Retrieved 2011-07-06. 
  9. ^ a b "PDF/A-2 Standard Published by ISO! The New Standard Includes Great Technical Enhancements.". 2011-07-01. Retrieved 2011-07-06. 
  10. ^ Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) – ISO 19005-1:2005 – PDF/A-1, Date: July 10, 2006 (PDF), 2006-07-10, retrieved 2011-07-06 
  11. ^ a b Improved PDF/A-1b, retrieved 2012-09-26 
  12. ^ PDF/A and the other PDF standards, retrieved 2014-07-12 
  13. ^ PDF/A-2, PDF for Long-term Preservation, Use of ISO 32000-1 (PDF 1.7), Library of Congress, retrieved 2012-09-26 
  14. ^ PDF Association Arranges Its First Seminar on PDF/A to Include Standards 1 to 3, 2012-03-29 
  15. ^ PDF/A-3 published by ISO 
  16. ^ PDF/A Competence Center, a unit of the PDF Association 
  17. ^ Isartor Test Suite 
  18. ^ Validation: is it really PDF/A?, retrieved 2014-07-11 
  19. ^ How to Remove PDF/A Information from a file, retrieved 2014-04-10 
  20. ^ Change the PDF/A viewing mode, retrieved 2014-04-10 
  21. ^ Archivists: No flowers for PDF/A-3, retrieved 2014-07-12 
  22. ^ The myths and legends surrounding PDF/A, retrieved 2014-07-12 

External links[edit]