Tuesday, August 4, 2009

PDF/A: PDF Designed for long-term Archival

Have you ever wondered about how today's documents might look on your computer 20 or 30 years from now? Will they look the same? Will they be viewable at all? While I can't say what might happen with other document formats, I can tell you that today's PDF files will look the same - provided they are saved as PDF/A-1b (ISO 19005-1:2005), a subset of the PDF standard designed for the long-term archival of documents.

Archive Formats

Although there are many formats available for document archival, PDF/A documents are:

• Device independent
• 100% self-containing
• Guaranteed WYSIWYG
• Archival standard approved by the ISO (International Standards Orgainzation)
• Guaranteed color reproduction
• Contains XMP Metadata
• Guaranteed accessibility across multiple platforms/systems
• Embedded fonts
• Free from proprietary constraints
• Able to capture documents logical structure
• High quality output
• Searchable text (most cases)
• Most compact file size (most cases)

Other archiving formats do not provide these same features.

PDF/A Files Are Not OS or Application Dependent
Regardless of whether or not the piece of software used to create and view a PDF/A document is still available in the future, you will still be able to accurately view PDF/A documents.

PDF/A Files Contain Metadata
20, 30 or more years from now you may have far more data than you could ever scan manually (if this isn’t already the case). Metadata can help software locate the information you need, when you need it.

PDF/A Files and Fonts
Fonts that are common on today’s computers may not be available in the future. By using PDF/A files, your fonts will look the same 30 years from now as they did the day they were created.

Using Solid PDF Tools to Create Archivable PDF/A Documents
If you have an ongoing requirement for archivable documents, Solid PDF Tools makes creating (and converting) PDF/A files easy. In Windows: Click the Start Menu | Printers and Faxes | Right click Solid PDF Tools and select Printing Preferences. In the window that appears click Compliance, select PDF/A-1b and click OK.

Each time you print to the Solid PDF Tools printer driver, the product will open with the default file type set to PDF/A.

Occasional PDF/A Creation
If you only have an occasional need to create PDF/A compliant documents you can do so by clicking the "Save As" drop down menu on the Create PDF dialog screen and selecting "PDF/A".

Viewing Your New PDF/A Document
Solid PDF Tools will create your PDF/A compliant document and open it in a PDF/A compliant Reader, such as Acrobat Reader 8.