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Title 1 - PDF/A

PDF is a part of ISO standard which is basically used to overcome the constraints posed by PDF. It focuses on the digitization of documents. This has been developed and is maintained by a working group of representatives from government, industry and also active support from Adobe Systems Incorporated.

PDF is a used for encoding documents in a printed form which is portable between systems and is used for distribution and archiving of documents. However, we need to choose options when the PDF is created for preserving the archive like whether to embed the necessary fonts for rendering the document or whether to use encryption or whether to preserve additional information from the original document beyond what is needed to print it.

PDF/A was a new joint activity between The Association for Suppliers of Printing, Publishing and Converting Technologies (NPES) and the Association for Information and Image Management, to develop an International standard to define the use of the Portable Document Format (PDF) for preserving documents. The target was to address the growing need to electronically archive documents in order to ensure preservation of their contents over an extended period of time, and to further ensure that those documents would be able to be retrieved a consistent result in the future. This need exists in a growing number of international government and industry segments.

PDF/A aims in giving device independence and recommendation of self-documentation. PDF/A is preferred for page-oriented textual documents when layout and visual characteristics are the most important. PDF/A differs from PDF by deleting features ill-suited to long-term archiving, such as font linking.

There are three standards of PDF/A which include:
        1) PDF/A-1- based on the PDF Reference Version 1.4 from Adobe Systems Inc.
        2) PDF/A-2 -based on ISO 32000-1 – PDF 1.7 and is defined by ISO 19005-2:2011.
        3) PDF/A-3 -based on ISO 32000-1 – PDF 1.7 and is defined by ISO 19005-3:2012.

Other key elements to PDF/A compatibility include:
        • All fonts must be embedded and also must be legally embeddable for unlimited, universal rendering.
        • Color spaces must be specified to be independent of the device.
        • Encryption is supposed to be forbidden.

A PDF document can be PDF/A-compliant, except the thing that it lacks PDF/A metadata. This may happen with documents that were generated before the definition of the PDF/A standard, by authors aware of features that present long-term preservation issues. A PDF document can be identified as PDF/A, but may incorrectly contain PDF features not allowed in PDF/A; hence, documents which claim to be PDF/A-compliant should be tested for PDF/A compliance.

The PDF/A specification also states some requirements for a conforming PDF/A reader, which must
        • neglect data which are not described by the PDF and PDF/A standards;
        • neglect any linearization information displayed by the file;
        • only use the embedded fonts;
        • only display using the embedded colour profile;

Some PDF viewers like people who use Adobe Reader 9, will by default switch into a special "PDF/A viewing mode" to fulfil these requirements whenever a document declares in its metadata that it is PDF/A compliant. This may also make the user aware that this mode has been activated, and disable functions for changing the document. As a PDF/A document embeds all fonts that it uses, a PDF/A file will be larger than an equivalent PDF file that does not have the fonts embedded. Use of transparency is forbidden in PDF/A-1. Many of the PDF generation tools like PDF Expert in OpenOffice.org will make transparent images in a document non-transparent. This restriction was eliminated in PDF/A-2.

Title2 - PDF / A-1

PDF/A could be either of the standards:
        1) PDF/A-1
        2) PDF/A-2
        3) PDF/A-3

The standard specifies two levels of compliance for PDF files:
        • PDF/A-1a – Level A compliance in Part 1
        • PDF/A-1b – Level B compliance in Part 1

        PDF/A-1b ensures reliable reproduction of the visual appearance of the document.
        PDF/A-1a includes all the requirements of PDF/A-1b and additionally requires:
                • Structure of the document which must be included
                • Tagged PDF
                • Language specification.

PDF/A-1a has the objective to ensure that document content can be searched and repurposed.
The pre-requisites for Level A conformance have greater responsibilities on writers who prepare conforming files, but these pre-requisites allow for a higher level of document preservation service and confidence over time. Level A conformance also facilitates the accessibility of conforming files for physically impaired users.

According to the specification, the following terms are used when referring to the ISO 19005-1:2005 specification when the full ISO name is not being used:
        • PDF/A – a synonym for the ISO 19005 family of standards
        • PDF/A-1 – a synonym for ISO 19005-1
        • PDF/A-1a – a synonym for ISO 19005-1 Level A conformance
        • PDF/A-1b – a synonym for ISO 19005-1 Level B conformance

The idea behind an 'improved' PDF/A-1b is to enhance the conformance level by encompassing the advantages of Unicode. Unicode is obligatory only in PDF/A-1a, but that does not rule out the voluntary usage of Unicode in PDF/A-1b.Level B conformance is the minimum requirement for PDF/A compliance. This is focused on reliable rendered visual appearance.

PDF/A-1a: Level A conformance (accessible)
Accessibility means that content like text, images, and graphics are also accessible for visually impaired users via, for example, screen reader software. In addition, accessibility makes it easier to reuse content which was previously not possible with conventional PDF.

Both PDF/A-1a and PDF/A-1b are based on PDF 1.4. Only PDF/A-1a files that meet additional criteria are termed as 'accessible'. It involves tagging text spans and giving them an ID. Alternative text can aslo be given to graphics and images i.e alternative image captions as in HTML.In the case of structured PDF, content is assigned to a structure tree. The structural elements are predetermined like Document, Header, Article, List, Table, and so on. The additional layout information includes the artifacts i.e the elements that do not constitute part of the document content. This includes elements such as page numbers, headers and footers, footnotes, backgrounds.

When we ensure that the content can be used later on without any ambiguity, the specification of the language is also important. This is governed by the lang attribute. The specification must be defined in the structure tree and in the spans. Structural information is only recognized by a formatter if additional information is available. A later automatic interpretation is neither sensible nor permitted by the PDF/A-1a standard. This means that any later assignment must be carried out manually, which can involve a large amount of effort. PDF/A-1b files do not have to use Unicode, but they have to do so. The use of Unicode brings advantages with regard to reusing PDF/A-1b files. The term 'Unicode' has several meanings one of it being that it is a small database and the description of many scripts.

Title 3 - Need of Document Management Solution

Filing paper documents every fiscal year in an over sized file and stacking them in huge cabinets which occupy most of the space in the office has become history. Today, Document Management Software is available easily and helps you in saving your valuable documents at ease without taking much of your time and office space. This software has a number of advantages like, helps the business increase in efficiency and productivity, cost reduction, and organizes the workspace and data.

Meaning of Online Document Management System
Online Document Management System facilitates the business/ organization to share, store and edit the valuable documents digitally. This saves cost for the business/organization and boosts productivity because no employee wastes time in arranging the files and searching for data when required. It is believed that Western countries are emphasizing more on digital documents rather than the paper documents for better security. Hence, we see that there is an effort made towards a paperless future. In India, this entire concept is yet in a very budding stage. We are yet to make people aware of the advantages of Online Documenting and win their confidence in course of time. In India, people still believe that paper documents are safer compared to digital copies. We have to put in efforts and explain to them that storing documents digitally is safer as it keeps the information protected by several number of security layers.

Online Document Management Software is divided into two types - ASP and CSS :-
Application Service Provider (ASP) is a software which is hosted by the service provider remotely. And Client Server Systems are controlled by local computers. Both the softwares have their set of advantages. Most of the business/organizations today opt for ASP compared to the other because ASP is capable of providing an additional layer of security and protects the important data which is negligible in the client server system. Opting for ASP comes with a choice of accessing the vital data from anywhere on the globe through internet.

Reasons to choose online Document Management Solution:-

Easy sharing – One can easily share data online for any business requirement within no time. This saves time and gears up the workflow. Employees do not waste time searching for the data and sharing it manually by post or courier. In this case all this is done within a fraction of a second.

Higher productivity and efficiency – Since the document is shared in a blink of the eye it inevitably boosts the productivity and efficiency of the organization/business. There are very few instances of losing a document and finding it when using a Document Management Software.

Guaranteed high order data security– A Document Management Software comes with multiple layers of security to keep the data secured. The IT staffs are full time working on the security of the data and guarantee highest order security. Even if the server crashes there is a back up available instantly.

Fast and easy access to past and present data – The digitally stored data is just a click away from the user. One can access the old files and the new files at any point of time from anywhere through the internet which would not have been possible otherwise in the manual method of storing docs. The process in online document management software is streamlined to make it user friendly.

Eco- friendly- The amount spent on paper is reduced considerably by switching to online document management solutions. Money spent on paper, ink, toner, paper waste removal and maintenance of printer is less comparatively.

Data Portability – One can have enormous amount of data stored online and travel at ease without carrying documents in hand. Document management solution assists you to virtually access your document from anywhere and share files with employees.

Hence to conclude, I can say that Online Document Management Solution saves money either ways, i.e. Directly and Indirectly. By saying Directly, I mean the paper related costs and by Indirectly, I mean the amount spent on each employee to search documents, stack them correctly, and record them accurately.

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Title 4 - How Useful is a Document Management System ?

Document Management System (DMS) is extremely useful for companies which want to achieve business process efficiency. Implementing DMS makes an office paper less and hassle free as the entire documentation process which was once considered a tedious job is handled efficiently by the software. With DMS the documents can be searched, retrieved and accessed whenever and wherever possible by using cloud computing.

It is believed that DMS helps organizations with their document life cycle which includes all the processes like scanning physical documents and converting them into electronic documents and later uploading the same systematically so that the documents could be searched, retrieved and collaborated whenever required.

Collaboration is a very important feature of a Document Management Solution. We all can imagine how troublesome and cumbersome it would have been when a number of people had to access a same physical file for information, but now with DMS multiple people from any part of the globe can access the same file and make changes. The Document Management System can track who is accessing the file and what changes have been done date wise.

Document Management Systems facilitates the following:
        • Metadata
        • Centralized Repository
        • Documents Capture for making it text or character searchable
        • Retrieval
        • Security
        • Notifications

Title 5- Advantages of Document Management System

To conclude, I would say that, companies today should seriously consider implementing DMS and go paperless as this would help cutting costs and reducing paper usage.

GO DMS , GO GREEN and make the environment a better place to live.