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PDF API PDF/A and PDF/X Supports

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BCL easy PDF SDK has PDF API that supports PDF generation of PDF/A-1b for long term archiving, and PDF/X-1a and PDF/X-3 for reliable prepress data interchange. BCL easy PDF SDK's API enables developers to easily create 100% PDF/A/X compliant documents.

With Acrobat installed, it is also possible to print PDF documents into PDF/A/X. However, we advise against doing this. Once you print a PDF document to PDF/A/X, the output will lose elements such as hyperlinks, annotations, bookmarks, calibrated colors, layers, metadata, embedded fonts, attached files, interactive elements, etc.

Printing PDF to PDF/A/X via Acrobat is only supported on 32-bit Windows, or 64-bit Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10, Server 2008 R2, Sever 2013 or newer. 64-bit XP, Vista, Server 2003, Server 2008 pre-R2 will not work, because Acrobat is a 32-bit-only application, and these older versions of 64-bit operating systems did not have proper printing support via 32-bit applications.

You can only create PDF/A/X compliant files from BCL easy PDF SDK's Printer API. The Processor and Document APIs do not have this capability. In other words, if you merge PDF/A files or stamp an existing PDF/A file using the Processor API, it no longer remains PDF/A compliant. Therefore if stamps, watermarks, and signatures are required for PDF/A/X, all of that needs to be done from the PDF SDK's Printer API at the time of conversion, and not from the PDF SDK's Processor API.


ISO 19005-1 Level B conformance (PDF/A-1b) ensures that the rendered visual appearance of the file is reproducible over the long-term.

BCL easy PDF SDK's PDF API support the following standards:

  1. PDF/A-1:2005 (ISO 19005-1:2005) Level B conformance. Now considered a broken standard. Only compatible with Acrobat 7, therefore it should not be used anymore.
  2. TC1:2007 or PDF/A-1:2005/TC1:2007 Level B conformance (Compatible with Acrobat 8, but not backward compatible. Therefore it does not validate in Acrobat 7’s Preflight)


PDF/X is an ISO standard for digital document exchange. Its aim is to provide confidence that the content will print predictably, irrespective of the type of the document and the printing service provider. The standard is a subset of the Adobe PDF Specification 1.3.

Easy PDF SDK's PDF API supports the two most widely used PDF/X standards:

  1. PDF/X-1a:2001 (ISO 15930-1:2001) and
  2. PDF/X-3:2002 (ISO 15930-3:2002).

PDF/X-1a is a CMYK-based document format compatible with PDF-1.3. It requires that all font files used be embedded, and the document shall not be encrypted.

PDF/X-3 adds color management features to the PDF/X-1a standard.

If you are unsure about which PDF/X standard to use, you should ask your printing service provider. Generally speaking, currently PDF/X-1a is the most common format in North America. In Europe PDF/X-3 is the preferred choice on digital presses, but PDF/X-1a is commonly accepted as well.


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