A number of critics have spoken out against PDF/A, especially when the standard was first introduced. Many criticisms of the format, however, are based on misunderstandings. These are some of the most commonly encountered myths and legends.
The myths and legends surrounding PDF/A
A number of critics have spoken out against PDF/A, especially when the standard was first introduced. Many criticisms of the format, however, are based on misunderstandings. These are some of the most commonly encountered myths and legends:
- PDF/A files are too large: PDF/A actually allows exceptionally small file sizes thanks to its sophisticated use of powerful compression algorithms such as JBIG2 and JPEG (and JPEG2000, from PDF/A-2 onwards). Embedded fonts can slightly increase the size of a PDF/A file. When archiving a very large number of individual, fairly similar documents, this can in some cases (such as for mass mailings) prove problematic.
- PDF/A is not as revision-safe as TIFF: TIFF files are easier to alter than PDF and PDF/A documents. In any case, however, revision safety is not achieved through your choice of file format. It can only be achieved by using an appropriate document management or archiving system.
- PDF/A does not allow signatures: Quite the opposite. PDF/A expressly supports embedded digital signatures. PDF/A-2 requires PADeS-standard compliance here.
- Links are not allowed: This claim is also false. Hyperlinks are allowed in principle. The PDF/A standard sets no requirements as to whether an external link should lead to a valid destination.
- PDF is a proprietary format: PDF was originally developed by Adobe Systems, but since then PDF (ISO 32000) and PDF/A (ISO 19005) have become ISO standards. TIFF, on the other hand, is a specification belonging to Adobe Systems alone, and it has not achieved the status of ISO standard.
- Scanned documents cannot be searched by text: PDF/A permits text recognition processes, meaning that even scanned PDF/A documents can be searched.
- PDF/A is not supported by DMS systems: Any ECM system which works with PDF can also handle PDF/A in principle. Many DMS suppliers offer solutions which support PDF/A.
- PDF/A does not allow metadata: Not at all: PDF/A specifically requires embedded standardised metadata corresponding to the modern XMP metadata standard, which was published in February 2012 as ISO 16684-1. XMP metadata can be directly embedded into the PDF/A document.
- PDF/A is not globally relevant: This statement is false. Although the very first PDF/A initiatives and products did come from German-speaking countries, the ISO standard has since become a recommendation or even a legal requirement in many countries and industries.
- PDF/A is expensive to implement: Yes and no. Implementing PDF/A solutions and training staff will incur costs at first, but these investments very often pay for themselves within months.
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