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Standards make the world work

Open Standards and ISO Standards
OpenDocument Format (ODF) and Portable Document Format (PDF)

ODF logo     PDF logo

Makes digital information accessible for all

Open standards
ensures that your information is
available in the future for as many as possible
when today's IT technology, IT products and IT vendors are no longer

Open Standards ensures that your information is in perpetuity - Picture

Adobe co-founder Chuck Geschke once observed
that your organization’s documents are more important
than the software used to create them, and they need to
outlive the computer platform on which they were generated.

Thanks to PDF, they can

When reading this web page, please be aware:

Regulations demanding open document standards
in public sector are coming everywhere

    Democracy is threatened by closed and proprietary document formats!
    Democratic countries consider their sovereignty and democratic rights are
    threatened by closed and proprietary document formats and therefore take action:

      To guarantee the free access of citizens to public information,
      it is indespensable that the encoding of data is not tied to a single provider.
      The use of standard and open formats gives a guarantee of this free access,
      if necessary through the creation of compatible free software":

      The Register, 2002:

      "Microsoft Peruvian Open-Source Nightmare - The FUD isn't working"

    Enterprise information is far too valuable to be locked-in in proprietary
    document formats completely owned and controlled by ICT vendors.

    Open document formats - ODF & PDF - are now under worldwide deployment
    for use in office suite solutions and enterprise systems,...
    in the public sector and in the private industry.

    Open document formats ensure successful deployments of
    long-term archiving and preservation solutions.

OpenDocument Format (ODF) - Adoption

The importance of switching to OpenDocument Format (ODF)

(Infographics by Open Forum Europe)

Open Forum Europe Infographics on the Importance to Switch to Open Document Format (ODF) - Picture

Warning - Icon


Be aware not every software application,
tool or document claiming to follow a standard
is compliant with the actual standard.

Always verify with recognized tools!

PDF Association - Logo

PDF Association
"The Meeting-Place of the PDF Industry"

Founded in 2006 the PDF Association promotes the adoption and
implementation of International Standards for PDF-based technology.

Ever since Adobe transferred the PDF technology for ISO standardization
PDF is further developed in a completely open specification rather
than as a proprietary implementation.

The PDF Association is a global industry initiative for developers of PDF solutions;
companies that work with PDF in document management systems (DMS) and
electronic content management systems (ECM), interested individuals, and
users who want to implement PDF technology in their organizations.

Mission Statement:

To promote Open Standards-based electronic document
implementations using PDF technology through education,
expertise and shared experience for stakeholders worldwide.

PDF Association helping government understand
the Portable Document Format (PDF)

From recommendations to regulations,
PDF Association is here to help.

    The PDF Association engages in many activities as it
    follows its mission of promoting the adoption of
    ISO standardized PDF technology around the world.

    PDF technology is a pervasive feature of the world's
    communications infrastructure.
    With a unique and unmatched feature-set;
    no other technology comes close.
    We're not going back to paper, so it's long past time for
    governments and businesses to focus just a little on
    this ubiquitous format that's never going away.

    PDF Association provide information and resources to
    government agencies and regulators to help them develop
    reference materials, guidelines, regulations and laws.

    PDF Association helping government understand PDF

PDF Association - Logo

PDF Industry Events & Calendar

Upcoming and earlier events

Breaking News - 2019-06-17

Next-Generation PDF!

The Portable Document Format (PDF)

The de facto Document Technology

PDF logo

PDF: The de facto Document Technology

    The Portable Document Format (commonly known as “PDF”)
    is a file format developed in the early 1990s as a way to share
    computer documents, including text formatting and inline images.

    PDF technology was designed to allow for presentation of documents
    independent of the application software, operating system and
    hardware used to create them.

    PDF files encapsulate a complete description of a fixed-layout document,
    including the text, fonts, graphics, and other information needed to display it.
    PDF files may also include a wide variety of other content, from hyperlinks to
    metadata to logical structure to JavaScript and attached files,
    that allow the format to meet a wide variety of functional and
    workflow requirements for electronic documents.

    Today, PDF is the quintessential and ubiquitous "electronic document",
    with trillions made each year.

    PDF: the de facto document technology

ISO Standards based on PDF Technology

PDF - ISO 32000 itself is a Standard - Picture

Figure: PDF - ISO 32000 itself is a Standard

PDF Substandards for particular use

PDF- logo PDF/A- logo PDF/E - logo PDF/VT - logo PDF/UA - logo PDF/X - logo
PDF Substandards for particular use - PDF/A, PDF/X, PDF/UA - Picture

Figure: PDF Substandards for particular use

Blog: A tour of PDF Standards

Can a PDF easily comply to PDF/A, PDF/X and PDF/UA?

PDF standards are not mutually exclusive

A PDF document can simultaneously meet several standards,
for example both PDF/UA and PDF/A, both PDF/A and PDF/X,
and all three of PDF/UA and PDF/A and PDF/X.

callas pdfaPilot and pdfToolbox makes it happen

PDF/A and PDF/UA Intersecting Standards - Illustration

PDF- logo PDF/A- logo PDF/E - logo PDF/VT - logo PDF/UA - logo PDF/X - logo

PDF-based ISO Standards - Picture

The ISO Pipeline for PDF Standards (March 30, 2020)

ISO logo

A new resource collating all ISO groups and currently
active work items related to PDF has been developed.

Based on public information,
this summary is invaluable for all PDF developers to ensure
awareness of forthcoming changes in PDF-related standards.

Visibility into the ISO Pipeline for PDF Standards

PDF Association Flyers
Introduction and Overview of PDF-based ISO Standards
PDF Association - PDF/A - PDF/UA - NVDA Goes PDF/UA - PDF/VT

PDF Association Flyer Front Cover - Picture

ISO Standards for
PDF Technology

PDF/A Flyer Front Cover - Picture

PDF/A - ISO 19005:
Standards for
long-term digital archiving
of electronic documents

PDF/UA Flyer Front Cover - Picture

PDF/UA - ISO 14289-1:
The standard for
universally accessible
PDF documents and forms

PDF Association NVDA Goes PDF/UA Flyer Front Cover - Picture

NVDA Screen Reader Goes PDF/UA

PDF/VT Flyer Front Cover - Picture

PDF/VT - ISO 16612-2
The PDF Standard for
Personalized Print

PDF 2.0 Interop Workshops 2017 Flyer Front Cover - Picture

PDF 2.0 - ISO 32000-2
Interop Workshops 2017
Preparing for the next-generation PDF

Recommended reading on PDF Standards
Free Booklet Downloads

Click on any picture below for download
or order your own printed copy free of charge from

NewFormat AB

PDF/A in a Nutshell 2.0 - Front Cover - Picture

The ISO Standard PDF/A - Long-term Preservation/Archiving
From PDF/A-1 to PDF/A-3

PDF/UA in a Nutshell - Front Cover - Picture

The ISO Standard PDF/UA - Accessible PDF documents

PDF/X in a Nutshell - Front Cover - Picture

The ISO Standard PDF/X - PDF for Printing

PDF in Manufacturing - Front Cover - Picture

PDF in Manufacturing
The future of 3D documentation

PDF Association PDF Products and Services Guide 2019

PDF Association PDF Products and Services Guide 2019 - Front Cover - Picture

Products, Solutions and Services available from
PDF Association Members

Recommended reading

Guides for developers of modern PDF solutions for
accessible PDF documents and for small devices

Free Booklet Downloads

Tagged PDF Best Practice Guide: Syntax

PDF Association - Tagged PDF Best Practices Guide - Front Cover - Picture

(For download of the guide, click on the picture above)

Deriving HTML from PDF

PDF Association - Deriving HTML from PDF Guide - Front Cover - Picture

(For download of the guide, click on the picture above)

    In the modern world of small devices, IoT and connected systems,
    where interchange and reuse of data is critical,
    it is reasonable to question the continued relevance
    of PDF’s core value proposition.

    In particular, search engines, machine learning and
    artificial intelligence systems focus on accessing information
    contained in documents over visual representation.

    In other cases, document producers wish to deliver data
    in a form that is suitable for automated processing
    while using a PDF file as a record for trust purposes.

    End users also want electronic documents that adapt
    smoothly to viewing on diverse small devices.

    This guide describes the algorithm that produces conforming
    HTML from a tagged PDF, including how well-tagged PDF documents,
    containing both traditional fixed-layout content and the semantic structures
    leveraged by modern devices and software, can be reliably and consistently
    reused as HTML to support better user experiences and
    renew PDF’s value proposition.

    See also "Next-Generation PDF"

PDF Declarations

PDF Association - PDF Declarations - Front Cover - Picture

(For download of the guide, click on the picture above)

    ISO-standardized subsets of PDF such as PDF/A, PDF/UA and PDF/X
    already include identification mechanisms.
    However, in many cases users of PDF files would like to leverage
    3rd party standards or other profiles of PDF to meet specific needs.

    The PDF Declarations mechanism allows creation and editing software
    to declare, via a PDF Declaration, a PDF file to be in conformance with a
    3rd party specification or profile that may not be related to PDF technology.
    The 3rd party specification or profile may describe or require properties specific
    to some or all content in the PDF document.

    Cases include, but are not limited to specifications or profiles that:

    • Mandate properties (e.g., accessibility specifications)

    • Mandate degree of accuracy (e.g., engineering specifications)

    • Set limits on content types (e.g., that all images use a specific encoding)

    • Make an accountable policy statement regarding document content
      (e.g., pertaining to privacy regulations)

    • Profile PDF for specific purposes (e.g., to archive email)

    By itself, the presence of a PDF Declaration does not guarantee
    that the document conforms to the 3rd party specification or profile.

Webinars / Video recordings - Icon

Recommended webinars

Introduction to
PDF-based ISO Standards

PDF/Portable Document Format

What is it,
Who owns it,
Why it matters

Introduction to PDF

This PDF – what is it for?

A story from PDF’s early days

PDF Workflow

Introduction to PDF/A for Longt-Term Archiving

(PDF/A-1, PDF/A-2, PDF/A-3)

PDF/A-3 as preservation format

PDF & Open Data
(incl. interactive e-invoices
based on PDF/A-3)

veraPDF (2015)

PDF/A validation
with support of the PDF industry.
(Note! The term "definitive PDF/A validator"
is not used any longer by this project
for obvious reasons)

veraPDF (2018)

Real world adoption of veraPDF and
industry needs for more PDF standards

PDF Preflight Standards
(PDF/X and other standards)

The power and future in terms of
an ISO Standard

The accessibility experience:

How does a blind person
navigate PDF documents and forms?

Introduction to PDF/UA

Tagging Page Content
(to PDF/UA compliance)

PDF/UA Basics

PDF/UA for Design Agencies

PDF 2.0 and the future of
accessible PDF (PDF/UA)

Developing PDF
(What’s happening in
the next generation of PDF)

Intro to EPUB
(for PDF developers)

OCR for PDFs – old news?

How to help AI get the most
from legacy archives

PDF logo

Portable Document Format (PDF)
is a core electronic document technology in diversity

    PDF, designed as a general-purpose,
    page-based electronic document technology,
    is the world’s chosen electronic document format,
    with applications far beyond conveying rendered pages.

    PDF spans today workflows in publishing, manufacturing,
    financial services, government, accounting, litigation,
    human-resources, logistics and many others,
    on every continent.

    PDF just works!

    The format’s innate ability to glide through and between multiple
    workflows, a function of its essential ‘self-contained-ness’,
    is unique and critical to its success.

    That’s because PDF embodies fundamental ideas about what’s
    important in communications, ideas that led to the invention of
    writing, then paper, then PDF.

    These ideas are so basic that we don’t really have good words for them.
    Users think about the document’s contents, not the document itself.
    Ask them about PDF and they’ll say;
    “it’s easy”, “it looks the same”, “it’s reliable”, and so on.

    PDF just works and is suited to a wide range of purposes,
    as reflected in broad choice of software that creates and uses PDF files.
    The range is eclectic;
    not just software for server, nor desktop,
    nor accessibility or print, or security,
    but some, all, and none of the above.

    PDF is a cross-section of means for addressing diverse business
    processes and workflows; for using electronic documents to solve
    problems, reduce costs, invent new solutions and enable other
    opportunities in every activity and industry sector.

    The one commonality; they do it with PDF.

PDF Association - Logo

Initiatives for extensions of PDF Standards

Document Expectations Through the Ages

    Humans have put their thoughts to media with the idea of
    capturing these (documents) in time - for many millennia.
    Readers’ expectations have changed constantly
    and continually through the ages.

    Document Expectations Through the Ages

Next-Generation PDF
PDF and the “Any Screen” Challenge

    PDF Association developing industry-based model
    for addressing the “any screen” challenge.

    When it comes to print,
    PDF is today the standard format used just about everywhere.

    When it comes to the web,
    HTML and CSS have obtained a similar position.
    However, in our changing world,
    print and web flow together in all kinds of interesting ways.

    Having a format capable of catering to both worlds,
    with the strengths of both worlds, would be very exciting!

    The PDF Association has been working on exactly
    such a technology project to develop extensions to PDF.

    Technology that would marry the reliability and robustness of PDF
    with the fluidity and elegance of HTML; providing the best possible
    user experience for each type of device and use case.

    "Next-Generation PDF" is the code-name for extensions to
    PDF technology currently under development.
    These PDF extensions marry PDF’s core capabilities
    to the flexibility of web technologies.

    PDF Association unveiled this radical development in
    PDF technology at PDF Days Europe 2017.

    Next-Generation PDF - Demonstration Site (2019-06-17)

    Experiment with the conversion from PDF to HTML in a few clicks
    without leaving your browser.

    Demonstration site for testing of a new technology/the derivation algoritm
    "Derive HTML from Tagged PDF" in a predictable manner
    - the algoritm is developed by the PDF Association.

Next-Generation Demo Web - axaio MadeToTag Folder - View: HTML vs PDF - Picture

(Click on the picture)

    This is Next-Generation PDF Demonstration Site:

    • Turn Tagged PDF into HTML using the Derivation algorithm

    • Inspect the tagged structure of the PDF document

    • Check attributes and classes of structure elements

    • Edit the CSS to adjust the HTML presentation

    • See the derived HTML next to your PDF for
      comparison and immediate adjustments

    • Download the updated PDF with embedded CSS
      back to your local system

    Upload your correctly tagged test files here:


PDF Association Industry Working Groups

(earlier named "PDF Association Competence Centers")

    The original PDF/A Competence Center was founded 2006 with
    the goal of establishing a common interpretation of ISO 19005.

    In 2011 the PDF/A Competence Center transfered to become
    the PDF Association overseeing all standards based on PDF technology,
    each with a dedicated Competence Center:

    Later on these Competence Centers have evolved into
    separate working groups organized around:

    • technical functions (Technical Working Groups/TWGs),

    • marketing functions (Marketing Working Groups/MWGs) and

    • liaison functions (Liaison Working Groups/LWGs).

    They have grown to include a variety of objectives, including:

    • Promoting exchange between developers focusing
      in various subdomains

    • Oversight and policies for industry-accepted validation software;
      such as veraPDF

    • Research and development of new PDF extensions and use cases

    • Development of industry standards, best practices,
      test suites and other aides to interoperability

    • Developing informational resources for PDF developers and users

PDF Technical Working Group & PDF Marketing Working Group

(PDF Competence Center)

PDF Association PDF CC - Icon

ISO 3200 the International Standard for
the Portable Document Format (PDF).
PDF is widely recognized as
the richest and most robust document format.

The Purpose of PDF

    The purpose of PDF is to enable users to exchange and view
    all kinds of electronic documents easily and reliably,
    independent of the environment in which they were created
    or the environment in which they are viewed or printed.

PDF is a Platform

    Platform technologies provide the infrastructure
    for the applications end users actually use.

    Far beyond a document format, PDF offers a sophisticated
    foundation for many types of user applications.

    Everyone accepts PDF.
    A fixed-layout, shareable, self-contained document
    meets a fundamental customer need.

    PDF is a Platform

PDF - The Only Digital Document Format
  • What is a "document"?

  • Digital documents

  • Documents are for keeping

  • Documents of the future

    Google’s Trends data shows clearly that the number of searches for
    PDF documents relative to all other searches continues going up:

    PDF - The Only Digital Document Format (Dec. 8, 2017)

    "How much longer do you think we'll use PDF?"
    End users feel that they can really understand PDF;
    it works exactly as you’d expect digital paper to work;
    simple, reliable and effective. And it’s SO popular!

    Google Trends clearly shows that PDF is a technology
    that's not only far more relevant in 2020 than it was in 2004,
    "PDF" is represented in a far higher proportion of web-searches,
    even though the total search volume on Google has increased
    dramatically since that time.

    Interest in PDF is pretty steady relative to web searches in general.
    Compared to searches for other technologies, that's pretty remarkable:

    PDF just keeps going and going…(Feb. 7, 2020)

Why PDF?
  • Easy

  • Portability

  • Flexibility

  • Security

  • Authentication

  • Semantics

  • Non-Proprietary

What’s unique about PDF?
And why it will last forever

    The Portable Document Format possesses a variety of attributes
    that taken together describe a format of such flexibility and power
    that it will define the essential “electronic document” concept forever.

    What’s unique about PDF?

PDF: The document format for everything (Aug. 14, 2019)

PDF - Have we passed ‘peak PDF’?

    The big picture.
    Although the curve is flattening,
    worldwide searches for “pdf” continue to grow in popularity,
    indicating that the popular appetite for documents remains healthy.

    Users may be banking online, but their searches for
    PDF-based documents continue to increase.

    How do we gain insight into how users' views of documents are shifting
    without spending egregious sums on dubious market-research?

    One increasingly interesting source is Google Trends.
    This service aggregates Google’s search data to produce a metric
    describing search term popularity (relative to itself) over time.
    example: compare use of document formats: .pdf vs .html)

    When users add “pdf” to a query
    it means that they are thinking about something
    that’s enabling them in some way that a web page isn’t.

3 ways developers can impress the boss with PDF

PDF is part of the de facto platform
Open Web Platform (OWP)
Open Web Platform - Logo

PDF is part of the de facto platform
Open Web Platform (OWP)

The Power of the Page
PDF Association - PDF handover - Icon

    It’s a question that vexes vendors of web-based solutions everywhere:
    Why do people still insist on PDF files?
    And why does PDF’s mindshare keep going up?

    The Power of the Page

The case for PDF forms

    Far beyond only print,
    PDF forms offer vital electronic forms functionality.

    PDF forms vs HTML forms.
    The PDF file format includes many valuable features
    that HTML forms cannot match.

    The case for PDF forms

PDF in 2016:
Broader, deeper, richer

    Bridging the page and the web, there's still nothing like PDF.

    Interest in PDF continues to climb.
    The world’s portable document format continues to go from
    strength to strength, with more specifications, more files, more users,
    more implementations and more developers worldwide.

    PDF in 2016: Broader, deeper, richer

PDF Association PDF 2.0 - Logo
PDF 2.0 (ISO 32000-2:202x)
Updated draft PDF 2.0 standard
publically available (March 17, 2020)

Will replace ISO 32000-2:2017

PDF 2.0 (ISO 32000-2:2017)
PDF specification now updated to version 2.0 (July, 2017)

    PDF 2.0 is feature-complete and helps developers worldwide find new
    applications for the Portable Document Format in many different areas:

    PDF 2.0 (ISO 32000-2)

    PDF 2.0 examples now available (Aug., 2017)

    The first PDF 2.0 example files are now made available to the public.
    This initial set of PDF 2.0 examples were crafted by hand and
    intentionally made simple in construction to serve as
    teaching tools for learning PDF file structure and syntax.

    PDF 2.0 examples

    PDF 2.0: The worldwide standard for electronic documents
    has evolved (Aug. 30, 2017)

    The Portable Document Format is perhaps
    the most common example of a de facto standard, so much
    so that Wikipedia features PDF on its “de facto standards” page.
    From Ethernet and 802.11 to HTTP and CSS,
    the modern computing stack consists of hundreds of standards.

    The way in which PDF exemplifies the specific value of
    standards is almost unique, for PDF’s value proposition
    - the reason why PDF is today’s worldwide
    de facto standard for electronic documents -
    is the fact of standardization itself.

    PDF 2.0: The worldwide standard for
    electronic documents has evolved

    PDF 2.0 - What will it bring? (2015)

    To put it simply:
    PDF 2.0 makes it easier for developers to
    create tools to manage electronic documents
    with more and better features at a reduced cost.
    For organizations that procure PDF technology PDF 2.0
    makes it easier to insist that vendors are delivering
    the highest-quality, most accessible and most
    capable PDF technology solutions available.

    PDF 2.0 - What will it bring?

    Webinar: What's coming in PDF 2.0 (2015)

    Blog: How does PDF 2.0 affect the printing industry? (Jan., 2019)

PDF in the Mobile World

    Solutions to access to PDF documents on
    smart phones and mobil devices with smaller screens.

    PDF in the Mobile World

PDF or EPUB - Logo
Give users what they want,
and why EPUB can't replace PDF

    EPUB can't possibly substitute PDF when it comes to a general-purpose
    electronic document format usable for publishing, and all the other
    purposes to which PDF documents are put
    (formal documents, record-keeping, transaction records, etc.)

    • EPUB can’t do fixed layout and be accessible at the same time.

    • EPUB cannot deal with the case of a document
      that combines pages from various sources
      (Word, Excel, CAD software, scanner, etc).

    • EPUB has no model for color-management,
      which is not infrequently important to publishers.

    • EPUB cannot accommodate the application of accessibility
      structures to arbitrary graphics content,
      as PDF can.

    • EPUB lacks security and digital signature facilities;
      features that are native to PDF.

    Even for publications, support for the EPUB specification varies
    between EPUB readers from different vendors;
    thus, users can’t get a consistent display result of publications,
    which in itself is totally unacceptable for publishing.

    PDF or EPUB?

PDF/raster - Logo

TWAIN Working Group and PDF Association Announce PDF/raster
The Next-Generation Format for Imaging

    PDF/raster - Portable and Feature-rich

    PDF/raster provides the portability of PDF
    while offering the core functionality of TIFF.


    PDF/raster 1.0 Documentation

    This document describes PDF/raster,
    a strict subset of the PDF file format designed
    for storing, transporting and exchanging
    multi-page raster-image documents.

    Download PDF/raster 1.0 Documentation

    TWAIN Direct with PDF/Raster Released

    The TWAIN Working Group, a liaison member of the PDF Association,
    has just announced the release of TWAIN Direct,
    their next-generation open source image-acquisition technology.

    TWAIN Direct supports direct network communication between
    desktop or mobile applications and scanning device.

Twain Direct - PDF/raster - Picture

Redaction of Documents

Redaction is the process of removing content from a document.
There are various ways to achieve redaction in electronic documents,
ranging from removal of content from an original source document
to printing and re-scanning after redaction.

    Need redaction?
    - then there is no way around PDF, and a good PDF redaction tool.

    Why the need to redact implies using PDF:

      How do you redact content in HTML?
      The HTML format doesn’t really include that concept;
      there is no model for redaction in web content or other formats.

      In both principle and practice, committing to a rendering is definitive;
      final, portable and generic; it’s what the use case demands.
      PDF is the only electronic document format that fully supports redaction.

      Redaction demands PDF.

    Lack of basic knowledge of modern electronic document technology
    can cause severe implications.


    1) Special U.S. Counsel Robert S. Mueller’s indictments and reports:

    2) U.S. President Donald Trump's call with the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky:

How you see PDFs versus how a search engine sees PDFs (Aug. 1, 2019)

PDF to end the era of ECM vendor lock-in

Making “information management” real

    A common portable container, PDF, to end the era of ECM vendor lock-in.

    Mostly, it’s the fact that a standardized, fully-supported and globally
    broadly-accepted portable container format would provide users
    with powerful technology independent of any specific vendor,
    ending the era of vendor lock-in.
    ECM Vendors don’t like that, but customers do.

    Over the next 5-10 years,
    expect to see PDF become the common portable container for
    a new era of smart, interconnected document and
    information management systems.

    PDF to end the era of ECM vendor lock-in

What ECM/e-archive professionals
must know about PDF

    Ask your ECM/e-archive vendor to detail their support for PDF,
    or risk unecessary costs, increased risks and missed opportunities.

    Although PDF represents the bulk of content in ECM/e-archive systems
    the majority of such implementations do not handle PDF documents
    much differently than they way they’ve handled TIFF images
    for the past 25 years.

    Not all PDF creation software is equal.
    Exclude software that’s dangerous to your documents.
    Use ECM/e-archive software that understands PDF.

    Ensure PDF documents do not contain Personally Identifiable Information (PII)
    and other privacy or security-related content is a critical aspect of releasing
    sensitive documents to 3rd parties or into the public domain.

    Note! For redaction tools:
    Be sure your search software can find all the information you need to remove.
    Just putting a black box on top of sensitive information does not "remove"
    anything (e.g. the document is still leaking sensitive information).

    What ECM/e-archive professionals must know about PDF

PDF supports work-from-home (WFH) and school-from-home (SFH)

PDF/A Technical Working Group & PDF/A Marketing Working Group

(PDF/A Competence Center)

PDF Association PDF/A CC - Icon

ISO 19005 (PDF/A)
for long-term preservation/archiving of PDF documents.
Ensures that digital documents can be reproduced in the future.

The Purpose of PDF/A

    The purpose of PDF/A is a file format based on PDF
    that provides a mechanism for representing electronic documents
    in a manner that preserves their visual appearance over time,
    independent of the tools and systems used for creating,
    storing or rendering the files.

PDF/A Rules for Document Attachments:

    No attachments allowed.

    PDF/A-1 logo

    Example: Conversion of email to PDF/A-1:
    Attachments become additional PDF/A pages.
    Conformance levels:
    a - accessible, b - basic.


    Attachments as PDF/A allowed.

    PDF/A-2 logo

    Example: Conversion of email to PDF/A-2:
    Attachments are converted to PDF/A and embedded in document.
    Conformance levels:
    a - accessible, b - basic, u - unicode.


    Attachments in arbitrary formats - PDF/A and others - are allowed.

    PDF/A-3 logo

    Example: Conversion of email with attachments to PDF/A-3:
    Attachments as PDF/A and (in addition) embedded in original format.
    Conformance levels:
    a - accessible, b - basic, u - unicode.

    Blog: System-independent archiving of project files with PDF/A-3

    PDF/A-4 - The Upcoming Standard

    Will be PDF/A for PDF 2.0.
    Will be simpler, with no conformance levels.

Application of the PDF/A Standard in Sweden

    Binding rules apply for all Swedish government agencies and bodies
    keeping public documents from state archives.

    For Swedish government authorities apply to electronic archiving of
    office documents and digital documents the authorities must follow:

    Riksarkivet's/National Archives' regulations and rules:

    - RA-FS 2009:1 general guidelines for electronic documents
    - RA-FS 2009:2 technical requirements for electronic documents.

    As of 2016, for long-term archiving of office documents and
    electronic documents these regulations and guidelines prescribe
    the use of the file format: PDF/A-1.

PDF is Here to Stay - It Will Never Go Away

    PDF technology is a pervasive feature of the world's communications infrastructure.
    With a unique and unmatched feature-set; no other technology comes close.

    We're not going back to paper,
    so it's long past time for governments and businesses to focus
    just a little on this ubiquitous format that's never going away.

PDF/A och Enterprise Content Management system
Do Complement Each Other Perfectly!

With PDF the archive becomes the “Noah’s Ark” for every document
The Format Zoo - Picture

The Format Zoo

    If only documents in original formats
    (MS Word, MS Excel, PDF, HTML, TIFF, JPG, AFP and PCL,...) are stored
    the archive's ability to deliver usable content will always be in doubt.

    Instead, with every original document, a PDF/A document
    should also go "on board" to ensure functionality in an
    unknown environment after the "flood".

    Keep the originals and embed them in archival-quality PDF/A for long-term archiving

Memorializing Online Transactions with PDF Documents

What to do when RDBMS systems fail to memorialize transactions?

    By capturing the visual representation (in PDF/A!)

    at the time that the transaction is processed it is
    guaranteed that the data used in creating the document
    is current and valid and the visual representation of the transaction
    matches the expectations of all the parties involved in the transaction.

PDF/UA Technical Working Group & PDF/UA Marketing Working Group

(PDF/UA Competence Center)

PDF Association PDF/UA CC - Icon

ISO 14289-1 (PDF/UA) for universally accessible PDF
specifies the use of ISO 32000-1
to produce accessible electronic documents.

PDF/UA is of interest to organizations concerned
with conformance to regulations requiring
accessible electronic content.

The Purpose of PDF/UA

    The purpose of PDF/UA is to define a complete set of requirements
    for universally accessible PDF documents.

    Rather than applying to the PDF file format alone,
    these clear specifications also define compliant
    assistive technology and PDF reading software.

PDF/UA Defines Technical Requirements for Universally Accessible PDF

    PDF/UA defines the technical requirements that must be
    considered when the PDF document is created
    to be universally accessible for all.

    The standard specifies how relevant PDF content
    (such as semantic content, text content, images,
    form fields, comments, bookmarks, and metadata)
    may be used in PDF/UA-compliant documents.

    Properly tagged PDFs are essential and a prerequisite
    for accessibility so that screen reader devices for
    visually impaired people or reading software for
    users with learning disabilities can provide
    rich access to a PDF’s content.

    PDF tags are also an effective method to improve
    Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

    Even automated text extraction from PDF documents
    is easier with well-tagged documents

    PDF/UA-2 - The Upcoming Standard
    Will be PDF/UA for PDF 2.0.

Introduction to PDF/UA
The ISO standard for universal accessibility

The Value of (Correctly) Tagged PDF

    Tagged PDF offers a lot more than access to users with disabilities.
    From search engines to mobile devices, tagged PDF offers
    powerful options to make content "accessible for all"
    thanks to reuse of page-based content.

    PDF was originally intended to serve as electronic paper;
    a properly rendered page irrespective of software or operating system.

    Pages, however, aren’t just for reading.
    Since people like to add notes, draw lines and fill forms, Adobe Systems,
    the inventors of PDF, decided to cater to these uses as well. PDF rapidly
    accumulated new features beyond faithfulness to the rendered page
    - it began to mirror the interactive capabilities of real paper.

    The first generation of interactive PDF features consisted of
    annotations of various types. Some allowed users to add text,
    others allowed users to draw lines and boxes onto the page.
    Still others go beyond the paradigm of the page,
    making it possible to add hyperlinks, audio and movies to PDF.

    The second generation of interactive PDF brought the ability to
    deploy a PDF’s content outside the page-based world.

    Tagged PDF provides the means to effectively deploy a
    final-form document to a mobile device.
    It’s the same means by which PDF files may be made accessible

    One of the primary motivations for tagged PDF was to achieve
    compliance with regulations that require electronic documents
    to be accessible to users with disabilities, but implementers can
    leverage tagged PDF to accomplish or enhance a wide range of
    end user activities.

    The benefit of untagged vs. correctly tagged PDF content:

    Semantics or ordering:

    • Untagged Content:
      No semantic types or ordering;
      content is ordered solely for rendering purposes

    • Tagged Content:
      Semantic type and order is determined,
      content may be reused accordingly

    Search engines:

    • Untagged Content:
      Search engines cannot reliably access words and phrases

    • Tagged Content:
      Search engines get reliable access to content

    Reflow of page content:

    • Untagged Content:
      No reliable means of reflowing page content onto smaller devices

    • Tagged Content:
      Includes information necessary for reflow

    Real content and artifacts:

    • Untagged Content:
      “Real” content and “artifacts” aren’t distinguished

    • Tagged Content:
      Consuming software can choose to utilize or ignore artifacts

    Content copying and extraction:

    • Untagged Content:
      Content copying and extraction is unreliable

    • Tagged Content:
      Content may be extracted with confidence

    PDF/A conformance level A:

    • Untagged Content:
      Not eligible for PDF/A conformance level A

    • Tagged Content:
      May conform with PDF/A conformance level A

    WCAG 2.0 or U.S. Section 508 Compliance:

    • Untagged Content:
      Cannot comply with WCAG 2.0 or U.S. Section 508

    • Tagged Content:
      May comply with WCAG 2.0, U.S. Section 508 and
      other accessibility regulations


    • Untagged Content:
      Inaccessible to disabled users

    • Tagged Content:
      Accessible to those with PDF-aware Assistive Technology

PDF Association
"The Matterhorn Protocol"

PDF/UA conformance requires
validation of both syntax and semantic.

    The Matterhorn Protocol specifies a common set of
    31 "Checkpoints" with 136 failure conditions, whereof

    • 89 failure conditions can be checked by software,

    • 47 failure conditions usually require human judgment.

    The 47 checks that may require human judgement boil down to:

    • Confirming that the document's semantics
      as indicated by the tags are accurate

    • Confirming that the order of semantic content is logical

    • Confirming that any role-mappings in use are valid

    • Several checks that apply equally to other forms of content
      (color, contrast, metadata, alternate text for images, language)

    • Checks pertaining to JavaScript,
      or other content-specific checks

    Recommended reading:

Using PDF/UA in accessibility checklists (2018)

    PDF/UA to simplifies the accessibility process.
    Applying PDF/UA to accessibility-validation processes allows one
    to package sets of tests together, streamlining the validation process.

    Using PDF/UA in accessibility checklists

The relationship between PDF/UA and WCAG 2.0

Why WCAG 2.0 might be erring with its "one-size-fits-all" philosophy

Achieving WCAG 2.0 with PDF/UA

Why aren’t the PDF Techniques for WCAG 2.0 sufficient?

    Creators and vendors who deliver PDF files are in many cases asked
    to deliver PDF files in conformance with WCAG 2.0.
    For many vendors this is unknown territory, and WCAG 2.0 does not
    provide sufficient PDF-specific technical information to achieve similar
    results between situations or implementations.

    The AIIM guide, "Achieving WCAG 2.0 with PDF/UA",
    shows what’s necessary to create, process and validate,
    (in PDF file-format and conforming reader terms),
    a PDF/UA conforming document and reader
    to meet all applicable WCAG 2.0 Success Criteria.

    The AIIM guide is here:

    Achieving WCAG 2.0 with PDF/UA

PDF Association - PDF Techniques Accessibility Summit 2018 - Logo
Breaking News! (September, 2018)
PDF Association helps W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative
to modernize the W3C's PDF Techniques for Accessibility!

U.S. Access Board Affirms:
PDF/UA required for “modern” PDF software (2019)

    Accessibility best-practices for websites and electronic documents
    increasingly specify WCAG 2.0 for HTML/CSS/JavaScript content and video,
    and PDF/UA for electronic documents.

    New U.S. Section 508 rules applies to all forms of federal ICT,
    regardless of file format or method of distribution.
    U.S. Section 508 applies to all ICT / all forms of digital communication.
    Not just websites, but documents, media, blogs, social media, etc.,
    for all public-facing ICT, plus 9 categories on non-public-facing ICT
    including personnel actions, questionnaires or surveys,
    templates or forms, education or training materials,
    web-based intranets.

    U.S. Section 508 defines by reference international accessibility standards:

    • WCAG 2.0 for websites and HTML information, and

    • PDF/UA-1 for PDF files

    PDF/UA is consistent with WCAG 2.0, but far more technically specific,
    and provides a clear-cut means of affirming that a given PDF document
    meets high standards for accessibility.

    PDF/UA becomes an American national standard (2016)

    New Section 508 rules require PDF/UA
    for PDF 1.7 documents (2017).

    The U.S. Access Board has issued new rules updating its
    “U.S. Section 508” accessibility requirements.
    PDF/UA-1 support is required for PDF creation software producing PDF 1.7 files.

    New U.S. Section 508 rules require PDF/UA (2017)

    See details at the U.S. Access Board website

    U.S. Access Board Affirms:
    PDF/UA required for PDF software (2019)
    U.S. Access Board Affirms: PDF/UA required for “modern” PDF software (2019)

U.S. American With Disabilities Act (ADA)
also valid for commercial web content (2019)

    October 7, 2019, will be remembered in the accessibility community for a long time.

    As of this date, websites and mobile applications in the U.S. will be assessed
    as "public accommodations" rather than merely as one of many ways
    in which a consumer might access a retailer’s offerings.
    As such, the accessibility requirements (and penalties for non-compliance)
    of the American With Disabilities Act (ADA) will apply.

    It is now no longer federal, state and local government and their contractors
    who are required to ensure their digital content is accessible for everyone.

    The power of the ADA may now be leveraged to force corrective action by
    virtually any commercial organization offering a public accommodation.

    See also

    The day the ADA came to web content (2019)

Application of the PDF/UA Standard in Sweden

    Access to digital information is a fundamental right for everyone.

    Sweden as a nation stands by:

    • UN Declaration of Human Rights,

    • UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and

    • the Swedish Discrimination Act.

    • the Swedish Act on Accessibility to Digital Public Service;
      based on the EU Web Accessibility Directive.

    PDF/UA is applicable for Swedish government agencies and bodies
    in making public sector documents universally accessible for all.

    See also

    Accessible PDF (PDF/UA) for Accessible eGovernment

Entirely barrier-free:
Accessible PDF (PDF/UA) for Accessible eGovernment

    Access to digital information is a fundamental right for everyone.
    Making information easily accessible to citizens is undoubtedly
    a big part of eGovernment and is sought after by federal and
    state authorities as well as districts, cities and municipalities.

    Increasingly, information is only offered and passed on in digital form,
    whereby the reliable and user-friendly Portable Document Format (PDF)
    has established itself worldwide as the preferred file format.
    To ensure unrestricted access in every respect,
    PDF files must meet certain requirements.

    These are defined in PDF/UA as the ISO standard for accessible PDF documents.
    It ensures that even citizens with greatly diminished vision,
    insufficient command of written language or motor limitations can
    capture and interactively use documents without outside help.

    More in this blog article:

    Entirely barrier-free: Accessible PDF (PDF/UA) for Accessible eGovernment

Services and tools to create
accessible PDF documents and -forms
according to the ISO Standard PDF/UA

Microsoft vs PDF/UA - 2016 and 2019

PDF/UA from Google Docs is coming soon! (2016)

Apple tags PDF (September 30, 2019)

    Apple has published a new page indicating that version 8.2 of
    its suite of productivity apps; Pages, Keynote and Numbers,
    now supports creation of tagged (and thus, accessible and reusable) PDF,
    and not just on MacOS, but on iOS/iPadOS as well.

    Note! Although all excellent recommendations by Apple,
    complete accessibility in PDF or any other format
    requires attention to a variety of criteria as specified in
    W3C/WCAG 2.1 (generally) and ISO PDF/UA (PDF-specific considerations).

PDF/E Technical Working Group & PDF/E Marketing Working Group

(PDF/E Competence Center)

PDF Association PDF/E CC - Icon

ISO 24517 (PDF/E)
is aimed at engineering documents such as construction drawings
and is usually derived from CAD files.

The Purpose of PDF/E

    PDF/E ("PDF Engineering") is based on the PDF format and
    specifies how PDF should be used for the creation of documents
    in engineering workflows; including 3D in the PDF/E context and
    archiving of engineering content.

A point of contact of the benefits of PDF/E
in almost every engineering field.

    PDF/E Competence Center is a platform for information and discussion
    for experts in 3D technology, architects and construction specialists,
    as well as developers of PLM applications.
    For all engineers who use PDF technology as an
    integral component of their day-to-day work.

    PDF/E Competence Center to support engineering and 3D applications

Key benefits of PDF/E

    Benefits with PDF/E:

    • Dramatically reduces requirements for
      expensive proprietary software.

    • Lowers storage and exchange costs as compared to paper.

    • Facilitates trustworthy exchange and markup
      across multiple applications and platforms.

    • Vendor-independent; PDF/E is developed and
      maintained by the PDF/E ISO committee.

    Note! May 2018
    The Upcoming Standard PDF/E-2 will instead be PDF/A-4

    The upcoming standard was earlier planned to be PDF/E-2 based on PDF 2.0
    to provide an archival model for engineering content including 3D.
    The industry was more interested in making this a part of PDF/A
    instead of following a new standard PDF/E-2.
    The ISO then stopped working on PDF/E-2 standard and is
    making it a part of PDF/A-4 (Conformance level e).

PDF/VT Technical Working Group & PDF/VT Marketing Working Group

(PDF/VT Competence Center)

PDF Association PDF/VT CC - Icon

ISO 16612-2 (PDF/VT)
An International Standard for Personalized Print

The Purpose of PDF/VT

    PDF/VT is based on PDF format to support variable data printing.

    PDF/VT is optimized for the specific needs of
    Variable (“V”) and Transactional (“T”) workflows.

    PDF/VT efficiently addresses the requirements of modern
    Variable Data Printing (VDP), bringing all the well-known
    advantages of PDF workflow to the world of personalized print.

PDF/VT - Application Notes

    The PDF/VT Application Notes discuss topics that aid
    implementers of PDF/VT workflow tools and demonstrate
    the various design features of the PDF/VT file format.

    PDF/VT - Application Notes

Ghent Workgroup - Logo

Ghent Workgroup
"Best Practices for Print, Publishing & Packaging Workflows"

This is the Ghent Workgroup

    Take a cross-section of the international
    graphic arts community’s best minds and have
    them work together to develop best practices
    for the benefit of the profession worldwide.

Purpose of the Ghent Workgroup

    To create practical workflow tools that make your
    daily production tasks easier and faster for publishing,
    packaging, wide format and industrial print processes:

    • Create specifications and best practices.

    • Help educate the graphic arts market;
      translating deep technical knowledge to people
      who need to use it in practice in the field.

Benefits of the Ghent Workgroup Today

PDF/X - logo

    Driven by industry trends, end users are able to formalize
    implementation of PDF/X standards for data exchange via GWG.
    GWG Specifications are now the recognized PDF reference
    for the current printing and publishing industries.

Best Practices / Everything you need to know

2018 - 25 years of PDF - Celebrating with Ghent Work Group

Business value comes from always accessible enterprise information.
Protect your values in future-proof open document formats:

ODF logo     PDF logo

Details on
OpenDocument Format (ODF) and Portable Document Format (PDF)

ODF Text logo ODF Text Template logo ODF Text logo ODF Text Template logo ODF Text logo ODF Text Template logo ODF Text logo ODF Text Template logo ODF Text logo ODF Text Template logo ODF Text logo Text HTML  Text
.odt .ott .ods .ots .odp .otp .odg .otg .odb .odf .odm .oth

PDF- logo PDF/A- logo PDF/E - logo PDF/VT - logo PDF/UA - logo PDF/X - logo

Archiving of 3D Documents using PDF/A-3 and PDF/E-2, and 3D PDF

PDF/A - logo PDF/E - logo 3D PDF - logo

Recommendations on archiving 3D documents

Conversion of Fillable/Interactive PDF Forms to PDF/A

    PDF/A forbids some of the features that will be needed by most fillable forms.
    This makes it impractical to have a fillable PDF form that also
    at the same time is PDF/A conforming.

    The way around this is as follows:

    • make the fillable PDF form as much PDF/A conforming as possible

    • send it out for being filled in

    • once filled in, send it through a PDF/A conversion process
      (preferably with callas pdfaPilot Desktop/Server or CLI);
      this last step will make minor adjustments to align
      the PDF form with the PDF/A requirements
      (e.g. remove JavaScript, adjust certain properties of form fields and so on,
      but without changing the visual appearance, and, most importantly,
      without removing the payload/the data as filled in)

Next step?

Training in PDF Standards...

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