View full issue
Img 1336

This link was published in:

Pop Loser No. 103

by Tyler Hellard


Why the PDF Is Secretly the World's Most Important File Format

This is exceedingly dull. But also fascinating. 

Let’s just admit something straight out: Standardization is boring.
It’s a dull topic, but it’s something that is incredibly important in the world of archival. The reason for this is obvious, of course: If you randomly change the way you produce and store microfilm, for example, that microfilm becomes a pain to reuse.
But this also cuts both ways. There are things that you don’t necessarily want out of a standard. Let’s say you don’t care about interactivity because you’re trying to digitize documents that date back hundreds of years.
Still, there may be niceties you want, like the ability to make the text searchable. And perhaps you want to ensure maximum compatibility, working with all variants of a tool.
All these reasons, and more, are why the PDF/A format was created in 2005. Unlike a standard PDF, which is designed to take advantage of the fact it’s made for a computer, PDF/A was designed to be maximally reproducible, to the point where it could replace a printed document if the original paper was lost.


Want to receive more content like this in your inbox?