Format policies

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Main Page > Documentation > Format policies

This page is no longer being maintained and may contain inaccurate information. Please see the Archivematica Preservation Planning documentation for information about format policies.

Format Policy Registry (FPR)[edit]

Archivematica manages format policies locally and externally via a Format Policy Registry (FPR). The registry is on a server that Artefactual hosts which includes our default policies for normalization, extraction and format identification. The local FPR offered in the user dashboard preservation planning tab is customizable for the local user. To learn about the FPR, please see Format Policy Registry. To read about some of the comprehensive goals of the FPR, see FPR Requirements.

Migration and emulation[edit]

Archivematica maintains the original format of all ingested files to support migration and emulation preservation strategies.


Archivematica's primary preservation strategy is to normalize files to preservation and access formats upon ingest. Archivematica's preservation formats are all open standards. Additionally, the choice of preservation format is based on community best practices, availability of open-source normalization tools, and an analysis of the significant characteristics for each media type. The choice of access formats is based on the ubiquity of viewers for the file format.

Follow the link for each file format for further information about the open-source normalization tools and settings that have been tested and integrated into Archivematica to make the format conversions.

Format policies[edit]

  • Format Policies indicate what tool to run when normalizing for a given purpose (access, preservation) when a specific File Identification Tool identifies a specific File Format. They can be thought of as analogous to Virus Definitions, which need to be updated periodically in an Archivematica installation in order to ensure the efficacy of the virus scanning micro-service. Similarly, software security updates are downloaded at the operating system level, to keep the host machine secure.
Media type File formats Preservation format(s) Access format(s) Normalization tool
Email PST MBOX MBOX readpst
Email Maildir** Original format MBOX
Office Open XML DOCX, PPTX, XLSX Original format Original format Tool search in progress
Plain text TXT Original format Original format None
Portable Document Format PDF PDF/A Original format Ghostscript
Presentation files PPT Original format PDF Tool search in progress
Raster images BMP, GIF, JPG, JP2*, PCT, PNG*, PSD, TIFF, TGA Uncompressed TIFF JPEG ImageMagick
Raw camera files/Digital Negative format** 3FR, ARW, CR2, CRW, DCR, DNG, ERF, KDC, MRW, NEF, ORF, PEF, RAF, RAW, X3F Original format JPEG ImageMagick/UFRaw
Spreadsheets XLS Original format Original format None
Vector images AI, EPS, SVG SVG PDF Inkscape
Word processing files DOC, WPD, RTF Original format Original format Tool search in progress***
  • (*) PNG and JPEG2000 are not normalized to a preservation format
  • (**) in development
  • (***) See Word processing formats, below

Word processing formats[edit]

In early versions of Archivematica, normalization of word processing formats (Microsoft Word, Word Perfect, etc) were normalized to PDF or open office formats using Libre Office. However, testing showed that the results were too inconsistent with significant losses in formatting information to continue using this normalization path. Currently, the FPR does not have any normalization paths for word processing formats.

We have recently began investigating Libre Office again for this purpose. We have identified these issues:

  • LibreOffice sometimes hangs, causing any future LibreOffice jobs to fail until an administrator manually kills the service.
  • LibreOffice sometimes reports that it succeeded despite not creating a PDF, making it difficult to determine whether or not the job really succeeded.

Alternatives we have been investigating include:

  • unoconv, a script which wraps libreoffice's headless mode.
  • AbiWord is another word processor which can convert to PDF at the commandline. It's quality of conversion to PDF still needs to be investigated, and in initial tests we found that it could not open some of our sample files.
  • Document Liberation Project. This project has built a number of open source libraries that are able to open many proprietary document formats and convert them to either ODF (the open office format) or EPUB.

Some of the above tools may be used in combination. For example, a Document Liberation Project library could be used to create an ODF before using Abiword or Libre Office to convert to a PDF.

Web archive formats[edit]

While there is not currently a default format policy for Websites, we have done some research and assessment work with our clients that may be of interest towards developing one.

See also[edit]