OneSpan Sign Developer: Active vs Flatten Documents

Duo Liang, July 3, 2018

In this blog, I will guide you through what you might have missed in the OneSpan Sign Developer Community during the week of June 18, 2018. Without further ado, let's get started!

Active vs Flatten Documents

Once a transaction has been completed, you have the ability to download active or flattened copies of the signed documents. Active documents will contain the signatures, tamper seal, and audit trail. You can easily verify the validity of the signatures using a PDF reader. The following figures are the screenshots of signature properties and signer’s certificate.

Signature properties boxcertificate viewer

On the other hand, you can also choose to download flattened copies of your signed documents. This will simply return you an image like copy of your signed documents.

When I should use them?

If the active document is edited by someone, it will break the tamper seal and invalidate the document. The reason behind this is to protect the signer from possibly illegal transactions. Therefore, downloading active documents along with the evidence summary and storing them in your own system is highly recommended. Flatten documents come in handy when the storage space is critical, since flatten documents do not contain evidence and they are about 10% smaller than active documents on disk. Flatten documents can also be used when you simply do not want the customers to view these legal properties.

Link to Post

How I can download them?

OneSpan Sign has the capability to download the original, active and flatten documents, below are the REST API calls for them:

Original Documents


Active Documents


Flatten Documents


Interesting facts

Original documents simply refer to a flatten version of the original document. All form field information will be removed.

Flatten documents can only be retrieved by REST API call, and they are currently not supported by our SDK.

The sender can retrieve partially signed documents at any time using the SDKs or REST API. If the transaction is not completed, signers can only download flattened copies of the documents. Below is a screenshot of what partially signed document looks like.

Sample contract

All the above results are all tested under the current SDK version (11.15).

If you have any questions regarding this blog or anything else concerning integrating OneSpan Sign into your application, visit the Developer Community Forums. Your feedback matters to us!

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Duo Liang

Junior Technical Evangelist