On Jan 12, 2008, at 9:39 PM, Martin Gardner wrote:

I've always thought that print to pdf produced a monolith that could never be disassembled again.

I've been having this internal dialog for at least 15 years. Every time I think I've hit on the "best" format for storing files for archival, my OCD addled brain gently nudges me and says, "Did you think about... ?"

For me, there are a few important factors in deciding what format to use (in descending order of importance):

1) Will I be able to read this file 10, 20, or 30 years from now?

2) Can I easily convert this document to another format?

3) Does it preserve the original document's format and layout?

For priority 1, plain old ASCII text is the hands down winner. If the document doesn't contain any images, links, or formatting necessary to preserved the integrity of the document, I save it as a text note in Yojimbo. You'd be surprised how many documents you can get away with storing this way.

For dealing with web pages, and keeping in mind priorities 2 and 3, I've settled on webarchives, for basically the reason you mention. Webarchives are the most flexible format in that if I want to convert the document to text or pdf, it's easy to do. Going in the other direction, not so much.

Webarchives fit in with priority 1 as well. A webarchive is just a bundle containing an HTML file and associated graphics files. I have a feeling I'll still be able to read HTML files in 30 years on whatever computer I'm using.

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