PDF/A

24 sep 2015

Dean Sappey om att skapa och validera filer i arkivformatet PDF/A

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Dean Sappey, som är CEO för DocsCorp, är gästskribent i detta nyhetsbrev. Han koncentrerar sin artikel på hur man skapar och vailderar PDF/A-filer.

Dean är en av talarna på Dokumentinfo FOKUS: PDF/A som arrangeras den 3 november. Mer information om konferensen finns här

Erbjudande:  just nu kan du gå på de två FOKUS:-konferenserna e-arkiv 6 oktober och PDF/A den 3 november till ett bra pris. Läs mer här

UNDERSTANDING HOW TO CREATE AND VALIDATE PDF/A DOCUMENTS IS CRITICAL FOR COMPLIANCE

By Dean Sappey

The Portable Document Format (PDF) has been around for more than 20 years. However, during the last 5 years or so, we have seen more and more countries mandating that electronic documents for archiving must be PDF/A compliant. Creating and validating PDF/A documents may not be something with which we are very familiar, however that needs to change as it is critical for ensuring documents comply with the standard.

 

 HOW DO I CREATE A PDF/A DOCUMENT?
Creating a PDF/A document is only possible with software applications designed to do so. Typically they have the ability to save or output as PDF/A compliant. If the conformance level is not specified, you can assume it is PDF/A-1b. Usually, it is simply a matter of clicking on a ‘Save as PDF/A’ option in the software.
However, and this is a big HOWEVER, you may find that when converting existing PDF documents to PDF/A, some parts of your document may now look a little different.

Here’s why:
Fonts – you may find that some of the fonts have changed. If the fonts in the original PDF were not ‘embedded’ and you do not have those fonts installed on your computer, they will be substituted during the conversion process. This could produce changes to the document as the font change may result in overlapping paragraphs and/or incorrect formatting.
How can you tell if this is going to happen? Simply open up your PDF and check the Properties. Check that the word “embedded” displays against each font used in the document. If the fonts are embedded, there should be no problems.
Missing objects – objects may be removed from the PDF. If your document contained videos, audio, or embedded attachments for example, they will be removed from your document without warning. So, beware!
In particular, if you have PDF forms that have automatic functions that calculate fields, perform automated routines such as moving to another page, inserting pages, etc, all this functionality provided by JavaScript will be lost when you convert the PDF document to PDF/A.

HOW DO I KNOW IF A DOCUMENT IS PDF/A COMPLIANT
You cannot trust that a document is PDF/A compliant simply because it displays as a PDF/A document in a PDF reader application, or trust that the validation tool you bought years ago is still producing accurate results. A PDF/A document doesn’t look any different from a “normal” PDF.
It is important to validate PDF/A compliance at two different stages of the workflow. Here’s why:
• Documents received from external sources need to be checked since not all PDF creation tools produce documents that comply 100 percent with the PDF/A standard.
• Documents need to be tested as the final step in the production and electronic distribution process. A valid PDF/A document can be invalidated as a result of editing or inserting transparent images, for example, into the document.

In both cases, these invalid PDF/A documents may still display as valid PDF/A documents.

TRUST BUT VALIDATE
Metadata in the file identifies it as a PDF/A document, along with its conformance level (i.e., PDF/A-1a or PDF/A-1b). Adobe Reader, for example, will display the document as a PDF/A without actually validating it as one.
More specifically, when Adobe Reader opens a document identified as a PDF/A based on file metadata, the document’s message bar indicates that you are viewing a PDF/A document. You will notice there is an extra pane on the “Navigation” panel — the “Standards” pane. This will indicate the conformance level of the PDF/A. The status will indicate that the document has yet to be validated against the PDF/A standard. The problem with Adobe Reader is that it cannot validate PDF/A documents.

BEWARE OF FALSE POSITIVES

Another important point to consider is the currency of your PDF/A validator tool or software. If you have a validator tool, you will need to ensure it validates based on the latest PDF/A standard. The PDF/A standard was first published in 2005. Since then there have been several technical modifications to the standard, notably in 2007 and 2010. This might mean that the software you purchased in 2008 is no longer validating PDF/A documents based on the latest specifications.

VALIDATE BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE
If you don’t have a validation tool, you will be relying on someone 50 years in the future to validate your documents, which might be too late.

About Dean Sappey
Dean Sappey has started and developed software companies for the last 25 years. While Dean manages DocsCorp’s global business, he continues to spend much of his time presenting educational sessions on technologies as a guest speaker to companies worldwide. Dean combines a technical expertise with an ability to talk about technology.