For various reasons, many companies are faced with the challenge that a large inventory of drawings has come together in the past decades, which is now to be converted from the TIFF format to PDF. For most companies, the most important reason is that the aim is to standardize the neutral formats. However, an old archive may also have to be switched off or various existing archives should be standardized. Sometimes there are also microfilm archives, whose maintenance and maintenance become too expensive in the long run, also because the necessary material (e.g. microfilm cards) can no longer be obtained.

With our product "techdocpro - Technical Document Processor" we have a software tool that has been tried and tested over many years and which also offers optimal support for the migration of very large file inventories. We use various methods to achieve the highest possible conversion rate. These include e.g. the automatic selection of the TIFF parser used, the repair of missing or incorrect TIFF tags, treatment of unwanted thumbnails, treatment of multi-page files and much more.

An overview of our range of services:

We offer various software modules that are adapted to the respective project in consultation with the customer:

  • Conversion of various file formats to PDF or PDF / A, including TIFF. Support for various PDF / A versions.
  • Repair mechanisms for certain types of defective TIFF files so that they can still be converted, automatic selection of different TIFF parsers
  • Various trigger options from SAP: conversion server interface, SAP function module call, call from existing SAP conversion server
  • Additional trigger options for customer environments or service providers: Automatic monitoring of incoming directories (subdirectories or files), process calls for individual conversions or batch calls
  • Checkout from SAP, check-in to SAP, support for further PDM / PLM systems and archives
  • Optional load distribution across multiple servers, backup servers.
  • Monitoring tool of the currently running conversions across all servers.
  • Journal files of previous and incorrect conversions

Project report

"Migration of inventory data" in the area of networks of Deutsche Bahn AG

With the support of Advanced Software GmbH, Deutsche Bahn AG quickly and automatically converted 4.4 million drawings to PDF/A.

The Deutsche Bahn drawings were managed in the SAP document management system (DVS). Accordingly, the control of the migration software had to be integrated with SAP. The results of the conversions were automatically saved in SAP DVS again.

For this purpose, Advanced Software used the "techdocpro - Technical Document Processor" software.

In parallel, Deutsche Bahn AG has also changed its work processes and continues to use techdocpro to generate PDF/A files.

Click here for the detailed project report (PDF file).

Advantages of the PDF format

In general, the PDF format has a number of advantages compared to the TIFF format:

For new files to be created, PDF offers not only the raster mode that must be used during the migration, but also the text mode with fonts and other design options and the vector mode to be able to take over drawings without loss of quality.

In addition, color is provided from the outset in the standard, so that color files take up much less space than with TIFF, and are also much faster to process.

PDF readers are available for all platforms and PDF files can be opened at virtually any workstation. In contrast, there are hardly any free and high-quality TIFF viewers. In addition to pure viewing, there are also many tools for editing and annotating PDF files. The same applies to the further processing of PDF files, for example with regard to stamping, signing and printing.

It is important to decide whether PDF or one of the PDF/A versions should be used. With PDF/A, you have to consider which version is best suited for the specific requirements.

PDF/A is necessary for long-term recoverability, PDF, on the other hand, scores with easy handling and readily available processing options, e.g. stamping, signing etc.

We are happy to support and advise you in this decision-making process.

Many of our SAP customers use different databases via the ArchiveLink interface to archive the PDF files.

Workshop and sample analysis

A number of preliminary considerations are necessary for the successful implementation of a migration project. For this reason, we put a workshop at the beginning of each project to clarify the technical framework.

The analysis of a meaningful sample, which takes into account the entire period of creation of the TIFF files, is also essential for the successful planning of a migration project.

Quantity structure, file sources and technical framework

When planning the migration, it is important to record the quantity structure: How many files should be migrated? Which file formats have to be considered (TIFF variants, CALS, other raster formats such as JPEG)? Where do the files come from (CAD system, scans of hand drawings, large format scans, microfilm scans, external files)?

The size of the existing file inventory should also be taken into account in order to be able to roughly derive the size of the new PDF files. This is the only way to estimate how much space will be needed in the archive system used in the future.

Based on the number of files to be migrated, a time frame for the overall project can also be derived. Various factors have to be taken into account: Are there temporal constraints that have to be taken into account, e.g. a deadline for switching off an existing system? How much can the target archive system be burdened by the migration? This then gives rise to possibilities for parallelization and control of the migration, as well as hardware requirements.

Furthermore, the technical framework of the TIFF files must be recorded: Are the TIFF files available all black and white or are there also colored files that are to be converted? What drawing sizes are available? The PDF standard supports a maximum of page sizes up to 5.04 m x 5.04 m as standard. If the files are larger, special precautions must be taken.

Analysis of the old stock and definition of new work processes

As one of the first steps, an analysis of the existing work processes also makes sense. It may also be shown in this context that the migration process also requires the change of work processes. Because the migration of the old data is only the first step. In parallel to the migration, the process for file creation must also be replaced so that new drawings can be added to the file inventory directly as PDF files in the future.

In this context, it must also be decided what should happen to the old TIFF files after the migration is complete. In most cases, we recommend permanent archiving. This offers the additional security of having a second format in the future. The disadvantages include the increased memory requirement and that the TIFFs and the PDF / As may only diverge clearly defined (versioning).

Time frame and technical design of the migration

How and when should the migrations take place? Should the migration be carried out “in parallel” during day-to-day operations? Or should the files be outside of normal business operations e.g. be migrated overnight? Should the migration process start automatically and migrate certain defined amounts of files (batches) one after the other? Or should the process only be started manually?

Is there only a certain period of time available or is the duration of the migration irrelevant? Do the actual conversions - depending on the conception and scope of the migration - also have to be carried out in parallel on several Windows servers?

Optimal monitoring for all migration steps

Our software contains tried-and-tested monitoring options that allow constant monitoring of the migration across all servers and allow appropriate interventions in the event of irregularities. In addition, the software maintains order-related and summary error journals, which can be evaluated automatically in order to be able to view both individual files and large quantities with the large number of conversions.

When migrating, a successful conversion rate between 98% and 100% can usually be achieved. In large amounts of data, individual files are almost always broken or incomplete or have been stored in a way that deviates from the standard. This error inventory can either be transferred unconverted to the new archive system or, alternatively, a precise analysis of the errors that have occurred can be used to search for possible approaches for improvements and the rest can be converted as far as possible in a subsequent project.

Are you interested in further information on a migration project?

Additional material

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