How veraPDF relates to the standards-development process

The veraPDF consortium project was created by and, fundamentally for the archivist community. The PREFORMA project funds three initiatives to create open-source validators for certain key file formats: PDF/A, TIFF and FFV1 and Matroska, for video content.

The PDF Association’s interest in the veraPDF project stems from the PDF technology industry’s collective interest in the highest possible degree of interoperability between PDF production, processing, display and other software.

PDF/A, with a strict set of requirements and limitations, provides the archival subset of PDF targeted by the PREFORMA project funding veraPDF.

The need for improved general understanding of PDF/A was established with the first Isartor Test Suite project, almost ten years ago. Isartor covered only PDF/A-1b, and today there are 3 parts of PDF/A, and 8 conformance levels. veraPDF will provide a complete test-suite for all of these.

How veraPDF fits into the standards process

The veraPDF consortium is a joint project that includes the PDF Association as a key member. Through the PDF Association, a Category A liaison with ISO’s TC 171, and it’s PDF Validation Technical Working Group, the veraPDF consortium will be able to address the ISO standards development process in several ways.

Enhanced feedback to the ISO delegates from the archivists’ perspective

  • Seek specific guidance on questions regarding interpretation of current standards
  • Ask specific questions designed to elicit commitments to address the ambiguity in any future part of the PDF/A specification
  • Highlight problematic conceptual aspects of PDF/A to encourage the ISO committee to address them in some way

The veraPDF consortium’s strategy will be to:

  • Establish a relationship between the PDF Association’s PDF Validation TWG, which is a new organization within the PDF Association, with the ISO WG (TC 1717 SC 2 WG 5) responsible for PDF/A
  • Establish a routine in which the PDF Validation TWG brings matters of interpretation to the WG at each of its twice-annual meetings for review and discussion at the ISO level
  • Provide a vehicle for determining and conveying industry-supported interpretations of PDF/A
  • Provide a framework for extending veraPDF to cover the rest of ISO 32000 (the PDF specification itself)
  • Provide a framework for extending veraPDF to address validation of any 3rd party data-structure that might occur in a PDF file

If veraPDF is successfully adopted, the principle effect will be that PDF/A software tends to agree with other PDF/A software about the PDF/A files they exchange, and archivists will have a new means of understanding PDF/A and PDF files. Success will be noticeable by what is absent – reduced conflicts between PDF/A software, and by the fact that PDF/A-based solutions become more reliable and useful in a variety of implementations.