PDF/A verification and conversion to PDF/A was added in PDF Studio 9 to conform to PDF/A ISO Standards.

PDF/A uses a strict subset of the ISO PDF specification to create archival versions of documents with the intent that they will always render exactly the same as when they were saved.

PDF/A is growing in popularity as international governments, libraries, newspapers, and legal systems recognize the need for digital documents to be preserved in a consistent format for a long period of time.

PDF Studio will provide a PDF/A preflight and compliance verification (in addition to the existing PDF/X preflight) as well as the ability to save files in the PDF/A format.

Depending on the selected PDF/A profile, the following changes may be made to the document during conversion:

  1. Graphics will be converted to a device-independent format. If any device dependent color spaces are used, they will be defined by embedding a color profile for these color spaces.
  2. Fonts will be embedded (system fonts and standard fonts).
    • NOTE: PDF Studio version 11 and earlier can only embed standard fonts.
  3. Transparency may be removed.
  4. Unsupported annotations (e.g., video, audio, 3D) will be removed.
  5. JavaScript – mostly used in Forms – will be removed.
  6. Embedded files and external hyperlinks may be removed.

PDF/A Validation and Conversion Results

Please find below an explanation for the icons found next to each PDF/A validation or conversion results in PDF Studio.

pferror16  Items that are not PDF/A compliant and that can not be fixed by PDF Studio PDF/A conversion.

pfcouldfix16  Items that are not PDF/A compliant and that could be fixed by PDF Studio PDF/A conversion. Users have chosen to be warned about this item under Edit -> Preferences ->PDF/A.

pfwarn16  Items that are not PDF/A compliant and that can be fixed by PDF Studio PDF/A Conversion.

Unsupported Features in PDF/A Conversion:

When any of the features below are encountered, the document can not be converted to PDF/A.

  • The PDF document is secured / encrypted with passwords and permissions. Workaround: Users should clear any security on a document before running PDF/A conversion.
  • The PDF documents has user rights enabled. Workaround: Users should clear user rights before running PDF/A conversion.
  • The PDF document contains a digital signature. Converting to PDF/A would invalidate any digital signature. Workaround: Users should clear or remove digital signature fields before running PDF/A conversion.
  • The PDF document contains unsupported PDF commands or operators. Often these documents can not render in PDF Studio or will have pages that do not render properly. Workaround: Users may be able delete the invalid pages.
  • The PDF document contains non-embedded, non standard system fonts that can not be found on the system for embedding. In PDF Studio 11 and earlier: Only the standard 14 PDF fonts could be embedded, no system fonts could be embedded. There is no workaround for fixing this other then recreating the PDF document using different fonts.

Interesting Fact: As a user, even if you do not need to validate or convert to PDF/A, running PDF/A validation is also an easy way to verify that a document was created correctly and that it follows the PDF specifications. The validation process may bring up formatting issue present in the document that do not comply with the PDF specifications (and more).