This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme under grant agreement no 619568


The overall intention of PREFORMA is to research critical factors in the quality of a standard implementation in order to establish a long-term sustainable ecosystem around developed tools with a variety of stakeholder groups. The tools should be innovative, provide a reference implementation for the most common file format standards and a mechanism for the assessment of the collections to be archived and for the correction of the errors.


The main objective of the pre-commercial-procurement is the development and deployment of an open source, software licensed, reference implementation for file format standards aimed at any memory institution (or other organisation with a preservation task) wishing to check conformance with a specific standard. This reference implementation will consist of a set of modular tools, which will be tested against the implementation of specifications of standards relevant to the PREFORMA project and used by the European memory institutions to preserve their data objects. In order to demonstrate effectiveness (and refine) these tools, they will be developed in an iterative process with multiple releases and with a number of experiments with 'real' data sets (files) from memory institutions during each iteration.

The media types covered by the tender are: texts, still images and audio-visual records.

The standards for each domain are:

PDF/A-1, PDF/A-2 and PDF/A-3 for texts.

Uncompressed TIFF for still images.

Open standards capturing uncompressed or mathematically lossless compressed audio-video or image streams for audio-visual records: open container formats (MKV or OGG), open and lossless video and moving image codecs (FFV1, Dirac, JPEG2000) and uncompressed audio using LPCM.

Areas which will be covered by the tools developed by PREFORMA are:

Preservation-relevant metadata (for documents, books, images and audiovisual records).

Particularly challenging types of digital objects (notably audiovisual records).

Integration of digital preservation requirements into existing systems in order to increase their resilience to technological changes.


The expected outcomes include:

Development of an open source conformance checker that checks if a file complies with standard specifications, checks if a file complies with the acceptance criteria of the memory institution, reports back to human and software agents and perform simple fixes.

Establishment of an ecosystem around an open source reference implementation that generates useful feedback for those who control software, advances improvement of the standard specification and advances development of new business cases for managing preservation files.


Six suppliers have been selected (two for each media type) to carry on the first design phase that lasts for four months and concludes with the ranking of the delivered designs.

The suppliers of the best three designs will be requested to proceed to the prototyping phase, which includes two releases and the re-design phase and which lasts for 22 months in total.

If the result of the prototyping phase are good enough, the three suppliers will then be requested to proceed to the testing phase that lasts for six months. This corresponds with the final testing of real datasets provided by the memory institutions.

Assessment of the results of each phase is carried out under the supervision of the respective WP Leaders and based on the competitive evaluation criteria published in the tender procedure.

The total cost of the procurement amounts to 2,805,000 EUR.

The maximum amount available for the design phase is 390.000 EUR.

The indicative amount available for the prototyping and testing phases is 2.415.000 EUR.

The PREFORMA consortium considers that proposals that cost in the order of 65.000 EUR for the design phase, 700.000 EUR for the prototyping and 105.000 EUR for the testing phase would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

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