PDF Association technical resources: an overview

PDF Association staff // November 1, 2017

PDF Association news Article

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PDF is PDF because files produced with one vendor's software can be read using a different vendor's software with no loss of fidelity. Interoperability is key to our industry.

The PDF Association is a international membership organization dedicated to increasing awareness and adoption of ISO standards for PDF technology. In the service of this objective, the organization hosts several technical resources for members, including a variety of Technical Working Groups (TWGs).

The purpose of each TWG is to produce one or more documents to help developers understand and implement the PDF specification and its many subset standards. Once finalized, the documents resulting from TWG discussion and agreement are typically posted at pdfa.org for free download, for the benefit of the entire industry, members and otherwise. In some cases, the TWG and the Board of the PDF Association may also elect to enter various publications into the ISO standardization process via our liaison with ISO TC 171 SC 2.

Although PDF Association publications are provided free of charge, only members can participate in the development of these documents.

Current TWGs

As of November, 2017, the PDF Association operates eight TWGs; five of which are dedicated to discussion of ISO 32000 and its subset standards PDF/A, PDF/E, PDF/UA, PDF/VT.

Other TWGs address needs wherever they arise in the electronic document industry. For example, the PDF Validation TWG is responsible for supervising the industry-accepted veraPDF open-source PDF/A validator. The PDF/raster TWG, working in cooperation with the TWAIN Working Group, developed PDF/raster to help drive the replacement of TIFF with PDF as the "document" output from imaging systems.

The range of possible TWGs is unlimited; members of the PDF Association may propose areas of study as they see fit, and the organization provides a platform for members to participate as they see fit.

Recent and upcoming work

As previously mentioned, the PDF/raster TWG has published PDF/raster 1.0, already implemented in TWAIN Direct, the first zero-footprint, mobile-ready version of TWAIN's royalty-free open standard protocol. To be discussed: the possibility of publishing PDF/raster as a new ISO standard.

The PDF Validation TWG continues to review test-files and edge-cases in PDF/A validation. As part of supporting development of veraPDF, the TWG developed and published Technical Note 0010, providing guidance to developers supporting implementations of PDF/A.

To assist PDF developers as they consider and plan their implementation of PDF 2.0, published in July, 2017, the PDF TWG will shortly begin development of formal Application Notes for PDF 2.0.

The PDF/UA Competence Center hopes to publish its Tagged PDF Best Practice Guide, now in an advanced draft state, by early 2018.


We strongly encourage relevant technical staff-member of PDF Association member and liaison organizations to subscribe to any (or all) groups of interest. You can learn about each group’s focus by reviewing its home page in the PDF Association intranet. If you are interested in becoming a member of PDF Association, there’s benefits information and the application form.

Got an idea for a PDF standard, note or best-practice?

Perhaps you see the need for a TWG that doesn’t exist yet! The PDF Association is always interested in members’ ideas for new Technical Working Groups! The PDF/raster, PDF Validation and other TWGs all developed based on the suggestion of individual members. Get in touch with Executive Director Duff Johnson (duff.johnson@pdfa.org) to discuss the TWG you have in mind.

Members-only Intranet

Available only to PDF Association members, the Intranet includes copies of all ISO drafts and process documents, ballots and the like. The intranet also includes minutes and links to recordings of TWG and other meetings, press-clippings and more.

More information

If you are looking for the technical community on PDF technology, the PDF Association is the organization to join. Contact Executive Director Duff Johnson (duff.johnson@pdfa.org) in Boston, or Managing Director Thomas Zellmann (thomas.zellmann@pdfa.org) in Berlin. with your questions, or simply sign up today.


PDF Association staff

The staff of the PDF Association are dedicated to delivering the information, services and value members have come to expect. Staff members of the PDF Association include: Alexandra Oettler (Editor), Betsy Fanning (Standards Director), Duff Johnson (Chief Executive Officer), Matthias Wagner (CFO & Operations Director), Peter Wyatt (Chief Technology Officer), Thomas Zellmann (PDF Evangelist).  


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PDF Association staff

The staff of the PDF Association are dedicated to delivering the information, services and value members have come to expect. Staff …