13 March 2013 | 10:00 - 14:00 Leeds | Brotherton Library, University of Leeds


The portable document format (PDF) is ubiquitous, easily-produced and is widely used in a diverse range of environments.  A variant of the standard – PDF/A in which ‘A’ stands for archive – was published in 2005.  This version of the standard, also published as ISO 19005, minimises the dependencies between the contents of a file and the system on which it is rendered.  This self-contained characteristic of PDF/A makes it particularly attractive for those interested in preservation.  In 2008 a DPC Technology Watch Report evaluated PDF/A, commending it as a useful tool for the preservation of documents.  The same report also recommended that planners should stay alert to new developments around the standard.

The latest iteration of the PDF/A standard – version 3 – was published in October 2012.  This new version allows the embedding of arbitrary files which means that PDF/A3 files can be used as a wrapper and file system for digital objects.  This extends the use case for PDF/A – meaning that it now has the potential to become a way of arranging, describing and encapsulating archives.  However it also creates the conditions for new types of dependencies, threatening the self-contained character of the original specification.

At this DPC briefing, leaders in the PDF Association will present the PDF/A3 standard with a period of question and answer so that DPC members can better understand how it could be used in their work. An extended discussion will follow in which the potential of the standard will be evaluated by leading practitioners.
Participants at this workshop will:

  • Be updated on the latest developments of the PDF/A standard
  • Have an opportunity to discuss PDF/A3 with developers behind the standard and tools that support it
  • Be invited to discuss the implications of the PDF/A3 for their own preservation plans
  • Be encouraged to contribute to on-going development of PDF/A and related tools
  • Meet others using or considering the PDF/A family of standards within their own preservation architectures

Who should come?

This meeting is by invitation to DPC members and guests. It will be of interest to:

  • Collections managers, librarians, curators and archivists in all institutions
  • Tools developers and policy makers in digital preservation
  • Innovators and researchers in information technology and computing science
  • Vendors and providers of services for preservation, records management and forensics
  • Innovators, vendors and commentators on digital preservation and cognate fields
  • Analysts seeking to develop tools and approaches for information management


1000 - Registration and Coffee

1030 - Welcome and introductions - William Kilbride, DPC

1035 - Introducing the PDF/A3 standard - Gary Hodkinson, Chair UK Chapter of the PDF Association

1105 - PDF / A3 Question and Answer:- Carsten Heirmann, PDF/A Competence Centre

1130 - Preservation with PDF/A3 – A discussion, Marc Fresko, Inforesight

1145 - Preservation with PDF/A3 – A discussion, Johan van der Knijff, KB

1200 - Discussion (chaired by William Kilbride)

1300 - Wrap up and thanks, William Kilbride

1300 - Lunch

1400 - Close

Blogs from the event:

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