In April this year our former colleague, Jen Mitcham, attended the inaugural SPRUCE digital preservation mash-up in Glasgow (16th-18 April 2012), an event organised by Leeds University Library as part of the JISC funded Sustainable PReservation Using Community Engagement Project (SPRUCE) which intends to foster wider communication within the digital archiving sector. During discussions at the event it was identified that one of the practical problems effecting the management of digital files within archives was the ability to compare and monitor the migration of files during various stages of the archive process (Millard 2012). At the outset it was identified that any solution to this problem needed to easy for to use and could be deployed directly from the desktop in order to a wider appeal to users of varying computing ability. During the event Andrew Amato (London School of Economics and Political Science) developed a series of tools, based around Microsoft Excel and VBA macros, which assisted in the audit of collections (Amato 2012). Having developed a proof of concept it was found that the uniqueness of repository infrastructures made the application of the tools problematic outside the specific organisations for which it was initially developed, as a result it was considered that a more generic version of the tool would have a broader appeal and potential use value within the wider digital preservation community. With this in mind a successful application was made to the SPRUCE award scheme allowing Andrew Amato and Ray Moore time to develop what was christened ReACT (Resource Audit and Comparison Tool) further, with a period of testing of the resultant tool on archives from ADS’ collections.
The Portable Document Format (PDF) remains the most popular and de facto format for the sharing of printable documents across the web. As such the PDF has become deeply embedded within personal, institutional and governmental workflows since its inception in 1993; indeed its pervasiveness is highlighted by the 100,000 or so PDFs within the ADS’ collections, making it by far our most common file type. As a result we thought it might be useful to provide some insight into the PDF, and its archival equivalent PDF/A, so that you can benefit from our (very!) long discussions and sleepless nights.
Continue reading PDF, or PDF/A: that is the question