Jira admins turn to the PDF/A file format when looking for flexible, custom-made solutions to export issues from Jira instances. Archiving Jira issues to PDF is in itself an effective way of keeping Jira clear of obsolete issues that are to be kept on file for compliance purposes.
The PDF/A ("A" for Archive) standard, however, offers even more.
What is the PDF/A file format?
The PDF/A format is a dedicated document type created specifically for the long-term preservation of electronic documents.
Illustration of a Jira to PDF/A issue export with custom fields exported for long-term storage
PDF/A differs from PDF by prohibiting features unsuitable for long-term archiving and ensuring portability between systems. A PDF/A document is self-containing, which makes it reproducible the same way in the future without relying on any external system.
The PDF/A format has been called to life by the growing amount of digital documents that needed to be preserved over an extended period of time for governments, academia, and regulated industries.
Archiving the decision-making process in PDF/A
Daniel Zauner works for EPOS CAT, an Atlassian Gold Solution Partner in Germany, serving customers in two important cities of the European automotive industry: Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm, home of major automotive assembly plants.
One of Daniel's customers was looking for a solution to remove the digital information of a decision-making process from Jira, but also maintain every bit of detail for the future.
A decision-making process generates a lot of information for this customer and a lot of content piles up in the process. These can take different shapes and formats from written documents through images to Jira custom field values. These are critical during the process, but lose their relevance after the decision has been made. Erasing everything is not an option, as they are obligated to keep the information on file for audit purposes.
"Jira doesn't offer a flexible archiving solution for complicated enterprise use cases, so we had to integrate the customer's document management solution (DMS) into the archiving process." The PDF/A format was already in use there, which led us to utilize the advantages of the PDF/A format for the archived Jira data, too.", tells Daniel.
Archiving Jira issues to PDF/A documents
Daniel and his team are generating PDF/A-compliant documents of Jira issues with the Better PDF Exporter for Jira app that contain all information about a Change Advisory Board decision.
These exported PDF/A documents capture issue data with all issue attachments in a signed and stamped archive file. The issue change history is exported and archived as well to make every change in the decision-making process traceable as per the legal department's request.
The output file fully complies with internal data handling policies, ensuring data integrity and making the archived Jira data audit-proof.
Exporting PDF/A documents from Jira with Better PDF Exporter
"We didn’t want to create a Jira PDF export solution, so we looked for existing apps", remembers Daniel.
When asked why did they choose Better PDF Exporter, he highlights the ease of getting started.
"Our customer's key requirements were PDF/A support and they also wanted full control over how the exported PDF documents looked like. We looked at other potential solutions that were good from one aspect, but Better PDF Exporter had everything we needed in one app: PDF/A support, templates, and flexibility."
What Daniel really means by flexibility is API.
"Other Jira apps either have no way of intercepting data before it's rendered or it's overly complex, introducing additional layers and programming languages", says Daniel.
Early access for customers and Solution Partners
Interested users and Atlassian Solution Partners are welcome to request an early version of apps if they are working on a significant project.
"Midori was also kind enough to provide us with a developer preview of upcoming versions of Better PDF Exporter. We could test out new features early, saving us a lot of time in the process."
"We love the fact that Better PDF Exporter uses Apache FOP to generate PDFs rather than proprietary solutions. This makes Better PDF Exporter a customizable Jira PDF exporting engine, rather than a one-purpose solution that ties our hands.
While there is a certain learning curve, it gives you full control over the final PDF result. And in case you get stuck: the Support Team really does a great job!"