Graphic technology -- Variable content replacement

ISO 16613-1:2017 enables variable data printing applications using PDF template-based variable content substitution where - a PDF template file containing pages with variable content substitution fields (placeholders) is delivered ahead of a print production run and may be reused across multiple print production runs, and - PDF-based variable data substitution content is provided during print production and merged with the PDF template to produce final form variable content page output. ISO 16613-1:2017 defines PDF/VCR (PDF for variable content replacement), a set of base technical requirements for a PDF template file format, a PDF-based variable data substitution content format and a framework for in-RIP variable content merging. The PDF/VCR base technical requirements do not include writer and processor conformance. ISO 16613-1:2017 also defines the PDF/VCR-1 conformance level which is based on the PDF/VCR base technical requirements and defines conformance requirements for: - the PDF/VCR-1 template file format; - the PDF/VCR-1 data sequence format, a variable data substitution content format; - a PDF/VCR-1 writer, a software application which can generate PDF/VCR-1 template files; - a PDF/VCR-1 data provider, a software application which can generate PDF/VCR-1 data sequences; - a PDF/VCR-1 processor, a software application which can perform substitution (replacement) of PDF/VCR-1 template placeholder objects with substitution content provided within a PDF/VCR-1 data sequence. NOTE 1 Additional conformance levels can be added at a later time based on the same PDF/VCR base technical requirements. NOTE 2 A conforming PDF/VCR-1 template file contains all necessary information for variable content printing by adding matching substitution content. Generating the substitution content usually requires additional information not present in the template file. The template file format defined in this document is based on the ISO 15930 (PDF/X) family of standard formats for the representation of a single or multiple page template containing both static content and stylized variable content placeholders. The variable data format defined in this document is based on the CSV file format defined in RFC 4180. It supports the representation of substitution content data that can be merged into the template's variable content placeholders to produce complete page content utilizing the full PDF graphics model.

Technologie graphique -- Remplacement du contenu variable

General Information

Status
Published
Publication Date
20-Aug-2017
Current Stage
6060 - International Standard published
Start Date
22-Jun-2017
Completion Date
21-Aug-2017
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INTERNATIONAL ISO
STANDARD 16613-1
First edition
2017-08
Graphic technology — Variable
content replacement —
Part 1:
Using PDF/X for variable content
replacement (PDF/VCR-1)
Technologie graphique — Remplacement du contenu variable —
Partie 1: Utilisation de PDF/X pour le remplacement du contenu
variable (PDF/VCR-1)
Reference number
ISO 16613-1:2017(E)
ISO 2017
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ISO 16613-1:2017(E)
COPYRIGHT PROTECTED DOCUMENT
© ISO 2017, Published in Switzerland

All rights reserved. Unless otherwise specified, no part of this publication may be reproduced or utilized otherwise in any form

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ii © ISO 2017 – All rights reserved
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ISO 16613-1:2017(E)
Contents Page

Foreword ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................iv

Introduction ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................v

1 Scope ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 1

2 Normative references ...................................................................................................................................................................................... 2

3 Terms, definitions and abbreviated terms ................................................................................................................................ 2

4 Notations....................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 6

5 Relation to other standards ...................................................................................................................................................................... 6

6 Workflow ...................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 6

7 PDF/VCR: Base requirements ................................................................................................................................................................. 7

7.1 General ........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 7

7.2 PDF/VCR template file base requirements ..................................................................................................................... 7

7.2.1 General...................................................................................................................................................................................... 7

7.2.2 PDF/VCR template file identification ............................................................................................................. 7

7.2.3 PDF/VCR template file content ........................................................................................................................... 8

7.2.4 Logical structure .............................................................................................................................................................. 8

7.2.5 Data fields .............................................................................................................................................................................. 8

7.2.6 Page selection ..................................................................................................................................................................... 9

7.2.7 Placeholders ........................................................................................................................................................................ 9

7.2.8 Placeholder objects .................. ......................................................................................................................... ..........10

7.2.9 Placeholder entries .....................................................................................................................................................10

7.3 PDF/VCR data sequence conformance ............................................................................................................................11

8 PDF/VCR-1 conformance requirements ....................................................................................................................................12

8.1 General ........................................................................................................................................................................................................12

8.2 PDF/VCR-1 template file conformance ...........................................................................................................................12

8.3 PDF/VCR-1 data sequence conformance .......................................................................................................................13

8.3.1 General...................................................................................................................................................................................13

8.3.2 PDF/VCR-1 data field conformance .................. ............................................................................................13

8.4 PDF/VCR-1 writer conformance ...........................................................................................................................................13

8.5 PDF/VCR-1 data provider conformance ........................................................................................................................13

8.6 PDF/VCR-1 reader conformance ..........................................................................................................................................14

8.7 PDF/VCR-1 processor conformance ..................................................................................................................................14

8.7.1 General...................................................................................................................................................................................14

8.7.2 PDF/VCR-1 replacement ........................................................................................................................................14

Annex A (informative) Example ..............................................................................................................................................................................16

Annex B (informative) Use cases............................................................................................................................................................................22

Bibliography .............................................................................................................................................................................................................................24

© ISO 2017 – All rights reserved iii
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ISO 16613-1:2017(E)
Foreword

ISO (the International Organization for Standardization) is a worldwide federation of national standards

bodies (ISO member bodies). The work of preparing International Standards is normally carried out

through ISO technical committees. Each member body interested in a subject for which a technical

committee has been established has the right to be represented on that committee. International

organizations, governmental and non-governmental, in liaison with ISO, also take part in the work.

ISO collaborates closely with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) on all matters of

electrotechnical standardization.

The procedures used to develop this document and those intended for its further maintenance are

described in the ISO/IEC Directives, Part 1. In particular the different approval criteria needed for the

different types of ISO documents should be noted. This document was drafted in accordance with the

editorial rules of the ISO/IEC Directives, Part 2 (see www .iso .org/ directives).

Attention is drawn to the possibility that some of the elements of this document may be the subject of

patent rights. ISO shall not be held responsible for identifying any or all such patent rights. Details of

any patent rights identified during the development of the document will be in the Introduction and/or

on the ISO list of patent declarations received (see www .iso .org/ patents).

Any trade name used in this document is information given for the convenience of users and does not

constitute an endorsement.

For an explanation on the voluntary nature of standards, the meaning of ISO specific terms and

expressions related to conformity assessment, as well as information about ISO’s adherence to the

World Trade Organization (WTO) principles in the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) see the following

URL: w w w . i s o .org/ iso/ foreword .html.

This document was prepared by Technical Committee ISO/TC 130, Graphic technology.

A list of all parts in the ISO 16613 series can be found on the ISO website.
iv © ISO 2017 – All rights reserved
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ISO 16613-1:2017(E)
Introduction

This document describes the use of PDF as a variable content page template for printing applications

where variable content data is substituted into the template live in real time immediately ahead of

the rendering and printing processes. In most cases, a conforming processor comprises an integrated

merge, render and print engine and the graphical representation of each merged page is stored only

temporarily in memory until output.

In this type of template-based variable data driven print workflow, the variable substitution content

data to be later merged with the template for printing is typically generated and then transferred into

production in a data exchange separate from the exchange of the static content template.

In another type of workflow, the variable substitution content is generated during production by a

processor present in the production workflow. This processor can use static source data as input, such

as data from a database, and generate the substitution content on the fly. It can also use live source data,

or both live and static source data where the live source data is acquired, e.g. from scanners during

production.

This differs from the use of ISO 16612-2 (PDF/VT) where conforming PDF/VT files instead represent

fully composed variable content documents that are the result of an arbitrarily complex, possibly

template-based, data driven composition or merge process. Thus, pages of PDF/VT documents represent

final form mastered documents that can be exchanged as a single file with static and variable content

already combined and the final form representation remains after output is completed.

This document is targeted to enable the following requirements for printing using live content

substitution:
— long runs;
— closed loop print verification and reprint recovery;
— immediate start of printing;
— fixed speed without pause (due to roll-based transportation of the media);

— low latency real-time processing (e.g. allow for camera-based determination of variable data and

then merge, render and print in real time;
— capability to keep security-related information only temporarily;

— allow for spontaneous changes in print order (selectively reprinting bad records).

Use cases of printing using live content substitution are described in Annex B.
© ISO 2017 – All rights reserved v
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INTERNATIONAL STANDARD ISO 16613-1:2017(E)
Graphic technology — Variable content replacement —
Part 1:
Using PDF/X for variable content replacement (PDF/VCR-1)
1 Scope

This document enables variable data printing applications using PDF template-based variable content

substitution where

— a PDF template file containing pages with variable content substitution fields (placeholders) is

delivered ahead of a print production run and may be reused across multiple print production

runs, and

— PDF-based variable data substitution content is provided during print production and merged with

the PDF template to produce final form variable content page output.

This document defines PDF/VCR (PDF for variable content replacement), a set of base technical

requirements for a PDF template file format, a PDF-based variable data substitution content format and

a framework for in-RIP variable content merging. The PDF/VCR base technical requirements do not

include writer and processor conformance.

This document also defines the PDF/VCR-1 conformance level which is based on the PDF/VCR base

technical requirements and defines conformance requirements for:
— the PDF/VCR-1 template file format;

— the PDF/VCR-1 data sequence format, a variable data substitution content format;

— a PDF/VCR-1 writer, a software application which can generate PDF/VCR-1 template files;

— a PDF/VCR-1 data provider, a software application which can generate PDF/VCR-1 data sequences;

— a PDF/VCR-1 processor, a software application which can perform substitution (replacement) of

PDF/VCR-1 template placeholder objects with substitution content provided within a PDF/VCR-1

data sequence.

NOTE 1 Additional conformance levels can be added at a later time based on the same PDF/VCR base technical

requirements.

NOTE 2 A conforming PDF/VCR-1 template file contains all necessary information for variable content printing

by adding matching substitution content. Generating the substitution content usually requires additional

information not present in the template file.

The template file format defined in this document is based on the ISO 15930 (PDF/X) family of standard

formats for the representation of a single or multiple page template containing both static content and

stylized variable content placeholders.

The variable data format defined in this document is based on the CSV file format defined in RFC 4180.

It supports the representation of substitution content data that can be merged into the template’s

variable content placeholders to produce complete page content utilizing the full PDF graphics model.

© ISO 2017 – All rights reserved 1
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ISO 16613-1:2017(E)
2 Normative references

The following documents are referred to in the text in such a way that some or all of their content

constitutes requirements of this document. For dated references, only the edition cited applies. For

undated references, the latest edition of the referenced document (including any amendments) applies.

ISO 15930 (all parts) , Graphic technology — Prepress digital data exchange using PDF

ISO 15930-7:2010 , Graphic technology — Prepress digital data exchange using PDF — Part 7: Complete

exchange of printing data (PDF/X-4) and partial exchange of printing data with external profile reference

(PDF/X-4p) using PDF 1.6
ISO 32000 (all parts) , Document management — Portable document format
RFC 3629, UTF-8, a transformation format of ISO/IEC 10646

RFC 4180:2005, Common Format and MIME Type for Comma-Separated Values (CSV) Files

Adobe PDF Reference, fifth edition, version 1.6, Adobe Systems Incorporated (ISBN 0-321-30474-8)

3 Terms, definitions and abbreviated terms

For the purposes of this document, the following terms, definitions and abbreviated terms apply.

ISO and IEC maintain terminological databases for use in standardization at the following addresses:

— IEC Electropedia: available at http:// www .electropedia .org/
— ISO Online browsing platform: available at http:// www .iso .org/ obp
3.1
application template file

file maintained by a VDP application containing one or more pages containing static content and

variable content substitution placeholders (3.31)
3.2
BBox
bounding box of a placeholder object (3.32), given in user coordinates
3.3
CSV file
Comma Separated Values file

file consisting of records where each record contains multiple values separated by the ASCII COMMA

(‘,’) character
3.4
form XObject

self-contained description of an arbitrary sequence of graphics objects, as defined in the applicable

version of the PDF Reference
Note 1 to entry: The term is defined in the PDF 1.6 Reference, section 4.9.

Note 2 to entry: See Clause 5 for “applicable version of the PDF Reference” and “PDF 1.6 Reference”.

1) ISO 15930 is a multi-part standard defining several versions of PDF/X. For each part, the latest edition applies.

2) Examples are given in, and application requirements refer to PDF/X-4 as defined in, ISO 15930-7.

3) ISO 32000 is a multi-part standard defining several versions of PDF.

4) Version 1.6 of the Adobe PDF Reference is used for examples and for references to definitions of PDF features,

including section references. Available from www .npes .org/ standards/ toolspdfx.html .

2 © ISO 2017 – All rights reserved
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ISO 16613-1:2017(E)
3.5
generator
method which outputs a PDF marked content sequence or XObject stream (3.35)
3.6
GTS_ prefix
second class name prefix used for Graphic Arts Technologies Standards
3.7
identifier

MCID (3.13) of a marked content element or indirect reference to an XObject which establishes the

connection between a placeholder (3.31) and its placeholder object (3.32)
3.8
image XObject

representation of a sampled visual image by a stream (3.35) object whose dictionary specifies attributes

of the image and whose data contains the image samples, as defined in the applicable version of the PDF

Reference
Note 1 to entry: The term is defined in the PDF 1.6 Reference, section 4.8.
3.9
live data
data read from an input device while the PDF template file is output
3.10
logical structure

hierarchy of structure elements (3.36) in a PDF document describing structural aspects of the document

(as opposed to printable elements), as defined in the applicable version of the PDF Reference

Note 1 to entry: The term is defined in the PDF 1.6 Reference, section 10.6.
3.11
marked content element

part of a PDF content stream (3.35) marked by PDF operators for specific handling by applications, as

defined in the applicable version of the PDF Reference
Note 1 to entry: The term is defined in the PDF 1.6 Reference, section 10.5.
3.12
marked content sequence

PDF content between the BMC/BDC and EMC operators of a marked content element (3.11), as defined

in the applicable version of the PDF Reference
Note 1 to entry: The term is defined in the PDF 1.6 Reference, section 10.5.
3.13
MCID
unique identifier (3.7) of a marked content element (3.11)
3.14
merge/render engine

application which reads a PDF template file and, upon receiving a PDF/VCR data record (3.17), merges

the content with the template file
3.15
name
PDF name object identifying a field in a data record
3.16
PDF/VCR data field
name/value pair
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ISO 16613-1:2017(E)
3.17
PDF/VCR data record
set of PDF/VCR data fields (3.16)
3.18
PDF/VCR data sequence
sequence of PDF/VCR data records (3.17)

Note 1 to entry: A PDF/VCR data sequence is a sequence of PDF/VCR data records where each PDF/VCR data

record is a set of PDF/VCR data fields (3.16), i.e. name/value pairs.
3.19
PDF/VCR template file
PDF file containing one or more pages containing placeholders (3.31)
3.20
PDF/VCR version

value of the p d f vc r id : GT S _ PDF VC RVer s ion property present in the document metadata stream (3.35)

associated with the Metadata key in the document catalog dictionary
Note 1 to entry: A conformance level, e.g. PDF/VCR-1.
3.21
PDF/VCR-1 data field

PDF/VCR data field (3.16), where the value is valid PDF/VCR-1 substitution content (3.38)

3.22
PDF/VCR-1 data provider

application that is able to provide PDF/VCR-1 data sequences matching PDF/VCR-1 template files (3.27)

3.23
PDF/VCR-1 data record
set of PDF/VCR-1 data fields (3.21)

Note 1 to entry: A set of name/value pairs defining the PDF/VCR-1 substitution content (3.38) for each

placeholder (3.31).
3.24
PDF/VCR-1 data sequence
sequence of PDF/VCR-1 data records (3.23)

Note 1 to entry: A sequence of PDF/VCR-1 data records where each record is a set of PDF/VCR-1 data fields (3.21),

i.e. name/value pairs where the value is valid PDF/VCR-1 substitution content (3.38).

Note 2 to entry: A PDF/VCR-1 data sequence is a special case of a PDF/VCR data sequence (3.18).

3.25
PDF/VCR-1 processor

application that is able to read PDF/VCR-1 template files (3.27) and PDF/VCR-1 data sequences (3.24),

merge the content with the template file, and output (e.g. render) the merged result

3.26
PDF/VCR-1 reader

application that is able to read and appropriately process PDF/VCR-1 template files (3.27) and PDF/VCR-1

data sequences (3.24)
Note 1 to entry: A PDF/VCR-1 reader might be a preflighter.
3.27
PDF/VCR-1 template file

PDF file containing one or more pages containing placeholders (3.31) where the PDF/VCR version (3.20)

is PDF/VCR-1
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ISO 16613-1:2017(E)
3.28
PDF/VCR-1 writer
application that is able to write PDF/VCR-1 template files (3.27)
3.29
PDF/X
PDF conformance levels defined in the parts of ISO 15930
EXAMPLE PDF/X-4 is a conformance level defined in ISO 15930-7.
3.30
PDF/X conformance level
PDF conformance level defined in any part of ISO 15930
3.31
placeholder

PDF structure element (3.36) which references a placeholder object (3.32) and defines the details of

replacement for the placeholder object, e.g. a name (3.15) identifying a field in a PDF/VCR data record (3.17)

3.32
placeholder object
PDF content serving as a sample of what is to be replaced
3.33
replacement root

PDF structure element (3.36) that indirectly references all placeholders (3.31) in a PDF/VCR template

3.34
static data
data completely prepared before the PDF template file starts printing
3.35
stream

dictionary that describes a sequence of bytes, followed by zero or more lines of bytes bracketed between

the keywords stream and endstream, as defined in the applicable version of the PDF Reference

Note 1 to entry: The term is defined in the PDF 1.6 Reference, section 3.2.7.
3.36
structure element

PDF object representing one element of the logical structure (3.10), as defined in the applicable version

of the PDF Reference
Note 1 to entry: The term is defined in the PDF 1.6 Reference, section 10.6.1.
3.37
structure tree

tree of structure elements (3.36) in a PDF document expressing its logical structure (3.10), as defined in

the applicable version of the PDF Reference
Note 1 to entry: The term is defined in the PDF 1.6 Reference, section 10.6.1.

Note 2 to entry: The subtree of the structure tree describing the replacement in a PDF template file may be only

one of several subtrees of the structure tree in that file.
3.38
substitution content

PDF fragment that can be substituted for the sample content of a placeholder object (3.32)

3.39
UTF-8
Unicode Transformation Format – 8-bit (Unicode 8-bit character encoding)
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ISO 16613-1:2017(E)
3.40
VDP
variable data printing
3.41
white space character

character separating syntactic constructs such as names and numbers from each other, as defined in

the applicable version of the PDF Reference
Note 1 to entry: The term is defined in the PDF 1.6 Reference, Table 3.1.
4 Notations

PDF operators, PDF keywords, the names of keys in PDF dictionaries, and other predefined names are

written in bold; for example, the key GTS_Generator.

Operands of PDF operators or values of dictionary keys are written in italic; for example, the

PassThrough value for the GTS_Generator key.

An italic font is also used to introduce key concepts or reference specific terms of importance.

5 Relation to other standards

This document is defined by reference to parts of ISO 15930 (PDF/X) each of which is in turn defined by

reference to the Adobe PDF Reference or to a part of ISO 32000 (PDF).

As defined in 7.2.2, a PDF/VCR compliant file shall comply with a specific part of ISO 15930. Further, it

shall define structure elements and PDF content in compliance with the applicable version of the PDF

Reference as defined below.

For the purposes of this document, references to the “applicable version of the PDF Reference” refer to

the version of the Adobe PDF Reference or the part of ISO 32000 as required by the part of ISO 15930 to

which a PDF/VCR file claims to be compliant.

NOTE 1 The PDF features used in this document are identical (sufficiently similar) in all applicable versions of

the PDF Reference. Therefore, such references are not distinguished.

For the purposes of this document, references to “PDF 1.6 Reference” refer to the Adobe PDF Reference,

fifth edition, version 1.6.

NOTE 2 For example, if the p d f x id : G T S _ PDF X Ve r s ion key of the PDF/VCR template file is PDF/X-4, then

the required part of ISO 15930 is ISO 15930-7, and the applicable version of the PDF Reference is the PDF 1.6

Reference.
6 Workflow

An example of the generalized workflow of a system utilizing content substitution is presented in

Figure 1.
6 © ISO 2017 – All rights reserved
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ISO 16613-1:2017(E)
Figure 1 — System using content substitution

The PDF/VCR-1 writer (VDP application) reads the application template file (in its native format)

and produces a PDF/VCR-1 template file containing placeholders. Each placeholder refers to a

placeholder object.

The PDF/VCR-1 data provider reads a data sequence from a static or live data source or a combination

of both and outputs a corresponding PDF/VCR-1 data sequence containing substitution content for each

placeholder in the PDF/VCR-1 template file.

NOTE The PDF/VCR-1 data provider is likely to need access to the application template file to produce its

output. The PDF/VCR-1 data provider can be the same application as the PDF/VCR-1 writer.

The PDF/VCR-1 processor repeatedly receives a PDF/VCR-1 data record containing substitution content,

substitutes each placeholder object with the corresponding substitution content, and outputs (e.g.

renders) the PDF/VCR-1 template file as updated by the substitution content.

The above diagram illustrates the conceptual functions of conforming applications. Conforming

applications may achieve the required functionality also using a different architecture.

Elements of the architecture shown in orange are considered within the scope of this document.

7 PDF/VCR: Base requirements
7.1 General

The PDF/VCR base requirements define a template file format (PDF/VCR template file) and a

variable data format (PDF/VCR data sequence). They do not define a conformance level on their own.

Conformance levels like PDF/VCR-1 may be defined on top of them; see Clause 8.
7.2 PDF/VCR template file base requirements
7.2.1 General

A PDF/VCR template file shall conform to the requirements specified for PDF/VCR template files in this

subclause.
7.2.2 PDF/VCR template file identification

A PDF/VCR template file shall be a conforming PDF file as defined in any part of ISO 15930, except

ISO 15930-1 to ISO 15930-6.

NOTE 1 This means that the PDF/VCR template file can be also identified, for example, as a PDF/X-4 file as

defined in ISO 15930-7. In this case, the PDF/VCR template file also adheres to the PDF 1.6 Reference as required

by ISO 15930-7.
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ISO 16613-1:2017(E)

NOTE 2 Version 1.6 of the Adobe PDF Reference (which is referenced by ISO 15930-7) supports all features

required in PDF/VCR, in particular, logical structure and XMP metadata. Other versions of the PDF Reference are

referenced via the part of ISO 15930 to which a PDF/VCR template file claims to be compliant.

A PDF/VCR template file shall be identified using the p d f vc r id : GT S _ PDF VC RVer s ion property defined

in Table 1 and present in the document metadata stream associated with the Metadata key in the

document catalog dictionary as required in ISO 15930-7:2010, 6.10.1.

Neither the version number in the header of a PDF file, nor the value of the Version key in the catalog

dictionary of a PDF file shall be used in determining whether a file is in accordance with the PDF/VCR

requirements.

The prefix pdfvcrid with the namespace identifier http:// www .npes .org/ pdfvcr/ ns/ id/ shall always be

used as shown in Table 1.
Table 1 — PDF/VCR identification property
Property Value type Category Description
p d f vc r id : G T S _ PDF VC RVe r s ion T
...

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