Tuesday, May 06, 2014

PDF/A Format and its difference from PDF Format (part 2)

read the first part here

 Difference between PDF/A and PDF

Following table contains the difference between the PDF/A and PDF document format.

Storage Duration
Long Term Storage
Short Term Storage
Graphics and Fonts

Embedded within the PDF/A file
No Need to embed within the document.
Executable Content
Doesn’t allow video, audio and other executable content.
Can embed executable content within the document.
External References(Links)
Doesn’t allow external links and references in the document.
Allows external links and references.
Doesn’t allow encryption in the documents
Allows encryption in the documents.
File Size
Larger file size due to embedded information
Smaller file size due to external referencing.

Downside of PDF/A
A drawback of PDF/A file format as mentioned in the table  is that the file size of this document is larger since it doesn’t contain any external referencing and everything has to be embedded within a file so that after longer period of time the information in the file can be correctly retrieved as was once embedded. 

Thursday, May 01, 2014

PDF/A Format and its difference from PDF Format (part 1)

PDF/A (Archival)

PDF/A (Archival Portable Document Format) or commonly referred as the archival PDF is a type of standard PDF, which is used to store information for a longer period of time as compared to the traditional PDF. PDF/A is an ISO standardized variation of PDF and is widely used to preserve electronic documents and files, digitally for longer periods of time.

History and Purpose

The traditional PDF document format relies on lots of external information when a document is created. This external information can fonts used from external font libraries, third party encryption algorithms or some external color scheme. A drawback of this external information usage is that standards often change in the long run and it is not possible to retrieve the same information from the document as it was encoded. Long term data storage is not feasible with the traditional PDF encoding. PDF documents are the mostly widely used documents.
PDF/A was the joint venture among three organizations, Publishing and Converting Technologies, The Association for Suppliers of Printing and Association for Information and Image Management. These organization collaborated together to develop such a PDF version which could avoid the use of external information in document creation and hence the resultant document can be stored for longer periods of time.


  •      Legal documents need to be stored for longer period of time for the sake of keeping record, PDF/A is most suited to this sector.
  •      PDF/A is also suitable to digital libraries where books needs to be stored for longer periods of time.
  • Newspaper and print media makes wide use of PDF/A document format for newspaper archiving.

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