International Standards Organization Publishes PDF/A-3 Standard

October 22, 2012

2 minute read

PDF/A has been around since its initial publication in 2005, and represents the best all-around file format for tong-term archive of documents, images, and other un-structured data.

Traditional methods of archiving this type of content typically result in lower-quality copies, larger file sizes, and the loss of full-text searchability.

Alternatively, by archiving content in its native format, it is possible that the data is preserved, but the method to display the content is lost. (Imagine if you archived content created and stored in Aldus Page Maker or Lotus 1-2-3 formats... could you open that content today?)

The original PDF/A specification (a more strict sub-set of the full PDF specification) solves all of these problems. It enables high-quality vector graphics, text, and images to be put into a self-contained portable document that is not only the most popular document file format on the web today, but also the first one specifically designed and adopted for the long-term preservation of unstructured data.

You can view PDFs just about anywhere, in any OS, and on any device. PDF/A builds on this and ensures the accurate representation of your content, regardless of where or how it is viewed.

PDF/A-3 represents a significant improvement to the PDF/A Specification without breaking any backwards compatibility. And while technically there is only one small change, it provides a tremendous amount of value to the industry.

With the introduction of the 3rd iteration of PDF/A, users are now able to attach any file type to their PDF/A documents.

Some may perceive this as contrary to the spirit of PDF/A...
Q: How can we ensure that the attachment is viewable?
A: We can't, but the idea is not that the content is in ADDITION to the PDF/A rendition. The real value is that you can now store the original, native version of a document within the PDF/A file itself.

Previously organizations that chose to maintain the original file in addition to a PDF/A rendition required two (or more in some cases) separate files. Both had to be linked to in the archiving system, and both had to be kept up to date in accordance with retention and disposition policies.

Now you can achieve this with a single file for each artifact, greatly simplifying the archiving process, as well as improving the maintenance and retrieval of your archives.

To hear Duff Johnson of the PDF Association describe the different versions of PDF/A, go here and start listening at 33:16.

I'm excited about this new iteration of PDF/A. I truly believe that this small addition to the specification will enable many more organizations to meet their own business needs, as well as comply with regulations in a way that ultimately benefits users.

If you want to know more about Adlib's support for PDF/A versions -1, -2 and the new version -3, contact us.

Happy Archiving!

Don’t forget to share this post