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PDF/A: A Document Format for Long-Term Preservation 
To address the growing need for a standard electronic document format, the International Organization of Standardization agreed that PDF/A would be the format of choice for long-term preservation and archive of documents. This 2002 initiative to create a uniform electronic format to archive documents was approved in June 2005. The PDF/A project was a joint sponsorship between AIIM and NPES. A group composed of librarians, archivists, PDF software developers, image experts, government agencies, and others collaborated to develop PDF/A.

According to ISO 19005-1, PDF/A "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."

The PDF, or Portable Document Format, was first launched by Adobe in 1993. The format grew in popularity based on universal readability and has become a staple in viewing files online or at work. PDF/A holds various modifications to traditional PDFs that enable preservation. Traditional PDFs are feature-rich in nature, this characteristic disallows them to preserve information over time. PDF documents are also not necessarily self-contained; as technology evolves and time passes the PDF document is susceptible to having information and content within the document lost. Everyday, companies from all over the world trust PDFs to save and preserve documents; PDF/A was created to ensure the long-term accessibility and value of these documents.

PDF/A is a modification of Adobe’s PDF Reference 1.4. PDF/A files have the feel of a typical PDF, however, PDF/A omits features of traditional PDFs not befitting to long-term preservation including encryption, embedded files, external content references, PDF Transparency, multi-media, and JavaScript. In certain sectors of the document management industry, the PDF/A restrictions may prove tricky to comply with. For example, in the financial services and investment banking industries there may be a need to restrict view and/or print access to sensitive documents. This can often be achieved easily utilizing the native PDF-supported RC4-based encryption. With the PDF/A specifications, such document encryption would be disallowed.

PDF/A will maintain the static visual appearance of electronic documents over time, while maintaining the capacity for metadata. Metadata is essential in long-term preservation because it allows users to insert identifiable information regarding the details of a document such as author, date, subject, keywords, and more. Metadata insertion adds to the portability of a database as information about a document is kept both at the database level and at the document level itself.

PDF/A files are designed to be self-contained, self describing, and more device-independent than traditional PDF files. As a self-contained file, PDF/A possesses everything that is necessary to render or print the PDF/A contained within the file including fonts used for rendering content. By requiring that the fonts be embedded in the file, PDF/A ensures that the fonts required to render the document are available to the PDF reader.

PDF/A tools and products are expected to make their way to the market shortly; however, it may take some time prior to widespread use. Considering the current buzz and archival advantages, in time PDF/A should become prevalent within document management initiatives.

Technical Talk
The technical support team within CVISION Technologies continues to provide strong customer service and solutions to clients. Here’s a recent, common question they encountered:

Q: Can the watched folder feature be run across the network?

A: PdfCompressor allows users to watch folders locally as well as across their network. In order to ensure this works properly, users may need to manually adjust the login settings for the watched folder service. If users are failing to get the watched folder to work, this is likely the case.

To set this up properly, create the same login on all machines that will be serving this purpose. This will grant full permission to the folders that users will be utilizing. Once you have done so, please use those credentials that you have created to start the "Watched Folder" Service.