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Free PDF/A Validator

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Better PDF/A

Solid Documents is committed to the success of PDF/A as the archive standard. We are ready to move beyond the currently available Isartor test set. If you’re interested in participating and working toward standardized report formats and improving and promoting the use of PDF/A, including product certification, please contact us at:

PDF/A Competence Center and Isartor

The formation of the PDF/A Competence Center and the arrival of their Isartor compliance test set raised expectations that there would soon be an established process for certification of member’s PDF/A validation products. This has not happened yet.

While the Isartor test set is a great start, it only touches the surface of what is required to test a PDF/A validation product. Currently, it only represents one of four quadrants of the initial goals set out by the PDF/A Competence Center: negative tests for PDF/A-1b compliance. A "known good files" test set for PDF/A-1b is not yet public and there are no PDF/A-1a tests. There also is no standardization on report formats or methodology.

Methodology: Competing Validators

By running multiple independently engineered PDF/A validators against the same candidate PDF file, we uncover both false negatives and false positives: one validator may miss an issue or two, another validator my falsely see issues where none exist.

Comparing the results from multiple validators helps us to draw attention to these anomolies and then investigate which validator is at fault. To automate this process, we need to be able to easily compare the results from multiple validators so that we can compare 1000s of candidate files efficiently and unearth the few contested ones.

Standardized Reporting

The PDF/D Consortium has defined an open compliance report format, including references to the PDF/A ISO specifications. It is a simple XML format which allows us to mechanically compare the compliance results for a PDF file as reported by more than one validator.

Next Steps

Another area currently not well addressed by any of the PDF/A validators is actual PDF compliance. A file cannot be PDF/A-1 compliant if it does not comply to the PDF 1.4 standard.

The PDF/A Competence Center defines the problem quite clearly in their Isartor Test Suite Manual:

"PDF/A-1 adds specific requirements on top of the PDF 1.4 file format. PDF itself is a highly complex file format, and a full test suite for PDF is beyond the scope of the Isartor test suite. The Isartor test suite assumes valid PDF 1.4, and only checks PDF/A-1 violations on top of this."

Part of the work at the PDF/D Consortium is in this area. Work on a set of test files for testing PDF compliance, in the same spirit as the Isartor PDF/A test set, is well underway.

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