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The PDF/A file format is a standardized version of PDF that specially designed to be able to archive and store electronic documents for long periods. The format covers the color management, embedded fonts and annotations for PDF/A file viewers.
The goal is that documents stored in PDF/A format will still be readable and true to their correct formatting tens and even hundreds of years later.
But some argue that it is unrealistic to expect a file format to be able to survive that long of a period. Technology changes quickly, and often in just a few years, data and expectations for how they should be rendered change. Some problems cited with the PDF/A format include layout, searchability, support for multiple languages, and redaction.
For example, Marco Klindt, researcher at the Zuse Berlin Institute, said that “Even today, with the internet, the expectations of how to access information, how it’s organized, structured, and connected to other pieces of information of relevance are different from the common practice of just some years ago.”
But despite the controversy, at this point, PDF/A doesn’t have a challenger offering that can be a viable archival file format.