The Fight for PDF-A

By Deane Barker on September 9, 2003

PDF-A: A New Digital Preservation Format: There’s a new movement to persuade Adobe to freeze a subset of the PDF format and guarantee its integrity for a certain number of years so that archivists can ensure people can access the content in the future.

“Despite its advantages, PDF itself is not suitable as an archival format. Adobe controls its development and is under no obligation to continue publishing the specification for future versions.

The format can include some features that are incompatible with current archival requirements, such as encryption. PDF documents also are not required to be self-contained; certain fonts may be drawn from outside the file, for example.

The work of the PDF-A committee is to define a basic subset of the current PDF standard that meets the needs of producers and users while excluding features that will hinder archival viability.”

The theory is that today it would be tough to open a file format that’s just 10 years old, so what happens in 50 years? We have a bunch of 50-year-old PDFs sitting around that no one can access. It’s a good point.

Via ResourceShelf.