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How to export report in PDF/A format

Dmitriy Fedyashov

Generally known, that one of strong sides of FastReport.Net is export of reports to various formats. Developers of the company actively introduce new products and upgrades. A new export to PDF/A format has been introduced recently. Unfortunately, not all customers its main purpose and how it works . This article deals with the format and the export of settings from FastReport.Net to PDF.

A well-known format of documents PDF (Portable Document Format) was invented a long time ago and has already deserved its popularity by providing a possibility to create documents and access them on any platform, for example, Windows, Linux, iOS  etc. This advantage allows using PDF as a document archive. However, not all documents are appropriate to be archives. For example, if a document contains references or it uses specific fonts, which are not added to the document, or it uses media data, then such a document cannot be considered self-sufficient.

PDF/A has been created for storage documents in archives. It is also certified as a usual PDF (ISO 19005-1: 2005). What is the difference between PDF and PDF/A?

The main requirement to PDF/A format is a guaranteed ability to reproduce a document after a number of years in the same form. First of all, self-sufficiency of the document ensures this requirement ,i.e. the document should contain all necessary data (text, images, raster and vector fonts, color data) and should not have any external links.

Let us take a close look at the order of what should be inside of a document and what should not be.

There should not be:

  • A call executable files and javascript code;
  • Audio and video content;
  • Links to external sources;
  • An encrypt Document.

It should be done:

  • Implementing fonts into a document;
  • Using the color data which are defined independently from a device way.

As you can see, the study has produced a model of obtaining a coherent self-contained document that does not depend on external data. At any time it is possible to open the document through a standard program-viewer. A guaranteed document reproduction is provided by the international standard.

A PDF/A document is slightly bigger comparing to a PDF document, as it contains all the data in itself.

Nowadays, PDF/A standard is becoming more and more popular and is actively used in Europe.

Let us examine PDF/A standards, available in FastReports.Net:

-  PDF/A-2 standard (ISO 19005-2).

The PDF/A-2 standard adds some features that have appeared in the PDF 1.5, 1.6, 1.7. PDF/A-2 is backward compatible with PDF/A-1. It means that all documents of the standard PDF/A-1 must be compatible with PDF/A-2. However, PDF/A-2 files will not necessarily be compatible with the PDF/A-1. PDF/A-2 is based on the PDF 1.7 (as defined in ISO 32000-1), which supports a number of improvements in the document, such as compression JPEG2000, layers and transparency effects embedding OpenType fonts, as well as positions for digital signatures in accordance with the standard signature PDF Advanced Electronic.

PDF/A-2 provides possibility to archive sets of documents in the form of separate documents in a single file.

PDF/A-2 has the following levels of compliance:

  • PDF/A-2a satisfies all the requirements in ISO 19005-2 specifications;
  • PDF/A-2b a lower level of compliance, covering a standard requirement for the appearance of the document, rather than its structural and semantic properties.Стандарт PDF/A-3 (ISO 19005-3).

-   PDF/A-3 has one important feature comparing to PDF/A-2. It supports embedding files. Moreover, it may be not only other PDF/A (supported by PDF/A-2) files, but also any other files. It is important for archiving.

As well as PDF/A-2, PDF/A-3 standard defines the levels of compliance:

  • PDF/A-3a satisfies all the requirements of the ISO 19005-3 standard specification.
  • PDF/A-3b complies with minimum conditions needed to guarantee the display of the document in its original form during along storage.

Any files attached to PDF/A-3 should be considered as "not archived." In other words, the embedded file is considered temporary (a short-term storage of the file). Only the main content of the PDF document is intended for long-term storage.

So, let us take a close look at the example of exports to PDF/A standard. Choose export to Adobe Acrobat format and see the export settings window. Go to the "Options" tab. It is where we can choose the PDF/A standard. It is necessary to mention, that the drop-down list consists of 4 available standards: PDF/A-2a, PDF/A-2b, PDF/A-3a and PDF/A-3b. There is no PDF/A-1 there, as it is considered obsolete.

Take into consideration, that as soon as a PDF/A option is chosen, embedded fonts are no longer available for editing. Now fonts are embedded by default. This corresponds to the requirements of the PDF/A standard.

 

 

Go to the Security tab. As you can see, all the options are selected and not available for editing.

 

Click the button “OK” and get the document in PDF/A standart:

 

 

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