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Make your document suitable for long-term archiving
PDF/A is an ISO standard which ensures the long-term, identical reproducibility of PDF files. In some sectors, archiving periods of up to 100 years are required. And nobody wants to make any changes to the file format during the archiving period.
PDF/A provides this certainty.
But it isn’t just crucial for PDF files to look the same in the case of long-term archiving. SEAL Systems checks your PDF files for compliance with the PDF/A regulations and will adapt them to this standard as required. For this reason, SEAL Systems is also an active member of the Association for Digital Document Standards ADDS (formerly the PDF/A Competence Center).
PDF/A brings out the advantages offered by PDF files: It can combine a variety of different formats, it is search-capable for texts and compared with the old TIFF format, it has the advantage of the use of color. PDF also offers space for invisible extra functions, such as internal indexing and internal digital signatures. Most importantly, the key attribute of PDF/A is that: the only PDF functions to be used are those that also offer long-term security.
A PDF/A compliant file by itself contains all the parts which are required for the straightforward reproduction. The file is whole and complete. Neither the fonts, nor the colors, nor the content via links are saved outside the file. A set of regulations supports the internal indexing of the files so that assigning is also possible without an ECM system. A PDF/A file also provides extensive support to the user if they want to remove part of the contents again. And, the internal structure prevents external dependencies on hardware (including display unit or printer) and operating systems.
ISO standard PDF/A-1 was published in 2005. The goal was to narrow down of the functional scope of PDF, so that standard-compliant files can be archived over the long-term. PDF was then still defined by the Adobe reference. PDF/A should, however, not create a new PDF reference. Instead, the existing PDF reference has been “scaled down”.
The second part of the standard, PDF/A-2, was published in 2011. The most important innovation was certainly the fact that this standard part could now be based on PDF as an ISO standard, ISO 32000-1 (corresponds to PDF 1.7). Also, the implicitly valid XMP definition of Adobe had, in the meantime, become the ISO standard.
As a result of the further development of the PDF format, new functions for PDF/A were also approved. Some examples are OpenType fonts, JPEG2000 image compression, and newer comment types.
The third part of the standard, PDF/A-3, was published in 2013. The only new feature is the option to embed any file. It is only necessary to identify the relationship between the embedded files for the PDF/A-3 enclosure: a previous version or other representation.
PDF/A-1 is available with Levels a and b. From PDF/A-2, there is also Level u.
Level b is the lowest but guarantees the unique visual reproducibility of the PDF. This level is usually sufficient. Frequently, no higher level can be achieved with the available sources.
Level u also requires that all characters in the file additionally have their own Unicode name. Note: If you need a Unicode, you can achieve this with Level b. You just need to use a Unicode font.
Level a is the complete norm. With Level a, objects for automatic searchability can be marked, such as headings, pictures, indices. The first step towards PDF/UA is made here with Level a.
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