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Archive PDF/A-2 workflow

The Archive PDF/A-2 workflow is engineered specifically for preparing documents for archiving. The workflow is specifically tailored to the use case of document archiving.

In particular, you can:

  • Maintain the original appearance and structure of the document.
  • Minimize the loss of information.
  • Ensure traceability and reproducibility of the changes made to the document.

The Archive PDF/A-2 workflow supports these features:

  • Conversion to PDF/A-2 format (PDF/A-2b, PDF/A-2u, and PDF/A-2a)
  • Optimization of PDF/A structure (optional)
  • Office conversion (optional)
  • Optical character recognition (optional)
  • Digital signatures (optional)
Conformance levels

The Conversion Service supports Basic (PDF/A-2b), Unicode (PDF/A-2u), and accessibility (PDF/A-2a) conformance levels. All conformance levels are incremental; the subsequent conformance level includes the requirements of the previous level and other additional requirements. For example, all level U (Unicode) PDF/A-2 documents are also valid level B (Basic) documents.

The Archive PDF/A-2 workflow automatically tries to converts the input document to the highest conformance level for PDF/A-2 (usually, PDF/A-2a). If the input document is PDF/A-2b or a PDF without structure information, it tries to converts the document to PDF/A-2u. If it is unable to convert to this level, it converts to PDF/A-2b or ends the conversion process in failure.

Supported file formats for Archive PDF/A-2

The workflow supports these file formats:

Content typeFile type
Document formatsPDF 1.x, PDF 2.0, PDF/A-1, PDF/A-2, PDF/A-3
EmailEML, MSG (without encryption)
WordDOC, DOT, DOCX, DOCM, DOTX, DOTM, RFT, XML (WordprocessingML 2003)
ExcelXLS, XLT, XLSX, XLSM, XLTX, XLTM, XML (SpreadsheetML 2003)
OpenOfficeODT, ODS, ODP
OtherCSV, HTML, HTM (prepared for archiving), TXT, XML, ZIP (without password protection)
Note on OpenOffice formats

PDF conversion of OpenDocument Format depends on the rendering in Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint. In particular, visual differences may occur with tables and tabs. The visual differences caused by the rendering of shapes are usually not acceptable.

Note on HTML format

HTML documents need to be self-contained (layout information and images are either inline or available on the web) and suited for portrait page layout. JavaScript content is disabled during processing.

Note on XML format

Layout information and images need to be available on the web.

The conversion of most file formats is enabled by default in the Convert mode.

Configuring the workflow

The workflow's profile offers a fine-grained configuration of how files are converted. All of the processing steps can be enabled and configured in the profile configuration.


To view the processing steps in the Archive PDF/A workflows, see PDF/A workflow steps.

Convert mode for child documents (Attachments)

The convert mode defines the document that are converted (Convert option) and are skipped (removed) from the result. When removing documents, a warning (Skip with Warning option) or an informational message (Skip option) is generated.

The convert mode can be determined based on the type of the child document, its filename, or the type of its parent document. For example, by default Office files are converted to PDF/A, executables are removed, and other non-convertible documents are removed with a warning.

Collect modes

The collect mode defines how a converted document and its child documents are combined. The collect mode can be specified for each document type individually.

There are two collect mode categories:

  • Merge: the pages of multiple PDF documents can be merged into a single document
  • Attach: child documents can be attached (embedded) into a PDF document

For example, emails can be converted by creating a PDF collection (Portfolio) of its body and attachments. When converting Word documents, their embedded files can be attached to the converted PDF. A PDF collection (Portfolio) is a special case of the Attach collect mode, where the parent document contains no pages, but shows a convenient table of the attached documents for easy navigation. The advantage of the Attach collect mode is that all information of the input files and the files' structure can be preserved.

The Merge collect mode creates simple files that can be processed and viewed by all PDF applications. The disadvantage is that only PDF files can be merged. Furthermore, not all information can be preserved when merging PDF files. For example, document metadata, signatures, and certain interactive form fields cannot be merged and must be removed. Also, logical structure (tagging) information might be less meaningful after merging.

The recommended collect mode configuration for the Merge use case:

Doc typeCollect mode
WordMerge or Attach
ExcelMerge or Attach
PowerPointMerge or Attach
EmailMerge or Attach
Archive (ZIP)Merge or Attach
PDFPreserve Structure

The recommended collect mode configuration for the Attach use cases:

Doc typeCollect mode
JobCollection or single document
Archive (ZIP)Collection or single document
PDFPreserve Structure

If necessary, the Flatten collect mode can be used for PDF files to flatten the structure of PDF documents. Up to version 3.1 of the Conversion Service, this has been the default behavior.

Child error handling

This configuration defines how errors are handled during the conversion of child documents. In case of an error, the child document can either be skipped (removed) from the result and a warning generated (Skip with Warning option). Alternatively, the conversion of the parent document can be aborted with an error (Strict option).

Job and document options for the PDF/A-2 workflow

The PDF/A-2 workflow lets you use job and document options to pass job- and document-specific values to be used when processing documents using the workflow.

Job options

Job options apply to all documents processed in the same job. Any subsequent jobs processed with the workflow profile use the profile's default settings.

Document compression and optimizationOPTIMIZETurn on or off document compression and optimization. All settings must be previously set up in the profile.
If true, documents included in the job are compressed and optimized according to the optimization profile set in the profile settings. If false, no document optimization is performed.
Documents can be optimized according to five profiles:
  • Web: Compresses the file without affecting viewing quality on digital devices
  • Print: Compresses the file without affecting print quality
  • Max: Removes redundant data and reduces image resolution to achieve a minimal viable file size
  • MRC: Profile designed to process mixed raster content
  • Archive: Prepares a document for archiving in PDF/A format
OCROCRTurn on and off optical character recognition for the job. All settings must be previously set up in the profile. If true, documents included in the job are processed to recognize any images as text (as appropriate). If false, no OCR is performed.
MetadataMETA.AUTHORThe author of the document
MetadataMETA.TITLEThe title of the document
MetadataMETA.SUBJECTThe subject of the document
MetadataMETA.KEYWORDSKeywords that apply to the document

Apart from the standard metadata properties, you can also set extended metadata properties.

Document options

Document options apply only to a specific input. It allows you to determine specific properties based on an individual document, rather than as a global setting (either determined by the job or the profile). Any subsequent jobs processed with the workflow profile use the profile's default settings.

Document propertyDOC.PASSWORDSet the password for the document.