Intention & Practical Use
Many institutions use a particular commercial software package to confirm that a file is opening correctly (i.e. no error messages are presented and no obvious visual discrepancies are visible) as part of the Initial Quality Control or Final Quality Control. For instance they may open a file in Adobe Photoshop. However, this is an impartial check of the validity of the file. If there is an issue with the file a commercial software package may ignore it, or attempt to automatically compensate for the error in a way that is not transparent. There is no guarantee that a different software package decades or centuries from now will handle such an error the same way. If a file exactly conforms to the specifications of its file format there is a much greater confidence of trouble-free compatibility with programs built to read that file format based on its specifications.
The JSTOR/Harvard Object Validation Environment (JHOVE) was co-developed by JSTOR and the Harvard University Library to provide institutions a robust and reliable way of evaluating files for adherence to their format. It serves three specific purposes purposes: Identification, Validation, and Characterization. Of these, this document is most concerned with its use for validation. When given a file purporting itself to be a valid example of X file format, JHOVE will check every required attribute of that format for compliance with the specifications of that file format. It then reports on whether the file is well-formed and valid.
In addition to end-users, JHOVE can be used by manufacturers to ensure that their software packages are creating PDOs which strictly adhere to their purported file formats. Phase One uses JHOVE to check the output formats of every release of Capture One CH.