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PDF Tools for Graphics Professionals

A sourcelist of products for compressing workflow.

Big Picture
PDF offers those in the graphics marketplace an opportunity to streamline their workflows. Today's PDF files can now not only deal with different compression algorithms and flatten transparency effects, but they can also carry fonts and embed ICC profiles. Further, they can be edited during the prepress cycle, which carries with it a major workflow benefit.

It's important to keep in mind, however, that PDF-related technologies are not standing still. More and more advanced tools for PDF creation, editing, and workflow are constantly being brought to market, giving print providers and other graphics technicians even more ways to compress throughout. And although PDF hasn't yet replaced all other print workflows, the advancing technology makes this appear to be a likely scenario in the not-so-distant future.

What follows is a list of just some of the latest PDF workflow solutions available. Note that we've primarily focused here on "industrial-strength" tools for the professional graphic arts"?particularly those oriented toward printed output. We have avoided tools that are more geared to the general consumer or office-documents markets.



Adobe Acrobat Professional, now in version 7.0, enables users to assemble electronic or paper files, websites, or e-mails and create Adobe PDF documents. Version 7 features attachment capabilities that allow users to attach documents such as spreadsheets, multimedia files, images, and drawings to PDFs. Also available is Acrobat Standard, which features tools for sharing information and commenting on electronic files.



Agfa's :Apogee Power Converter features tools to automate the conversion of legacy file formats to high-resolution PDF files. Its automatic file detection and drag-and-drop interface aids in producing an uninterrupted PDF workflow. Power Converter also has the ability to generate screened PDF or PostScript files to allow users to view color-accurate soft proofs of converted files, as well as enabling user-defined spot colors with ICC-based color management. Importable file formats include: TIFF, TIFF/IT-P1, nCT/nLW, CT/LW, and others.

Arts PDF


PDF Crackerjack, Version 5.0, from Arts PDF, enables users to convert RGB and CMYK to spot color, and gives them the ability to perform impositions, verify Enfocus- Cer tified PDFs, print accurate color separations, and preview and control output. A hotfolder desktop interface helps users automate their workflow; they can also save and reuse settings for consistent results. Plus, it can solve problems related to Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Publisher files.

Other offerings from Arts include: PDF Stratify, for the controlling, creation, and management of layers of content in layout applications such as QuarkXPress, Adobe InDesign, or Adobe PageMaker; and the PDF Print Suite, which includes Crackerjack, Quite Imposing Plus, and Enfocus PitStop Professional plug-ins.

Artwork Systems


Artwork Systems' Odystar is a hot folder-driven workflow system based on core technology from Artwork and Enfocus software. It utilizes PDF as its internal file format and JDF as the jobticket format. Odystar allows easy integration with RIPs and workflows from various manufacturers, and offers a complete range of prepress tools"?from preflight, certification, and automated document correction, all the way to advanced trapping, imposition, proofing, printing, and screening to plate.

Odystar runs on Macintosh OS X platform and is a native PDF 1.4/1.5 workflow. In addition to the base Odystar configuration that handles all typical prepress preparation of files, there are two other modules: an automated imposition software and a PDF 1.4/1.5 RIP.

Callas Software


Callas Software's newest PDF software is pdfColorConvert, a plug-in for Adobe Acrobat 6 and 7 that converts RGB/Lab data and spot colors from within PDFs into CMYK to color-match print output. PdfColor- Convert is designed to allow color management without background knowledge and uses Callas predetermined input and output profiles to convert and correctly output the PDF document. System requirements are Adobe Acrobat 6 or 7 and Windows 2000/XP or Mac OS X.

The company also offers MadeToPrint InDesign/XT, a tool for Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress users to help streamline the creation of PDF, EPS, and PostScript files, including single pages. It can save print settings of repetitive jobs, output layers and layer combinations, as well as do batch processing with options for checking images and fonts.

CGS Publishing Technologies


ORIS PDF Tuner (formerly Oris Page), from CGS Publishing Technologies is a "full editing environment" for PDF and PostScript files, says the company. It allows customers to open, make corrections to, and output printready pages in all major file formats. PDF Tuner features tools for control over text, fonts, color, overprinting, and complex image retouching and transparency effects. Output printready file options include: PDF, PDF/X-1a, PDF/X-3, PostScript, DCS, TIFF/IT-P1, or Scitex files. The software is available for Windows (2000, XP, and 2003) and for Mac OS X.



Creo's Synapse Prepare allows designers to create PDFs with an automated process that matches the technical specifications from a particular print provider. Users can print directly from QuarkXPress; print to the Synapse Prepare desktop printer from any Mac application; or drag-and-drop a PostScript or PDF file onto a hot folder or Synapse Prepare applet. Prepare's preflight technology examines a file and notifies users of its status; if a file fails preflight, a warning report is generated so errors can be identified and fixed.

Creo also offers Synapse Prepare Pro, which enables printers and trade shops to set their printing instructions and distribute custom vendor profiles to designers through a directive. Directives can be customized to control settings for Quark- XPress, InDesign, Acrobat Distiller, and Enfocus PitStop. The directives can then be imported into the designer's version of Synapse Prepare, allowing for the creation of error-free PDFs.



DALiM TWiST is a workflow tool that can be configured to automate file conversions"?such as PostScript to PDF"?or to apply ICC color profiles for print production. It supports a variety of native and proprietary file formats, such as CT/LLW, PDF, and TIFF/IT-P1, and integrates with legacy file formats.

Twist's Workflow Manager manages work in progress, either locally or remotely, and can intervene at any time by initiating a pause in the workflow, or allowing users to view job status or job logs. Twist also is able to take information from a database and incorporate it into a print-production workflow, as well as place information back into the database for easy integration with MIS systems.



OneFlow, from EFI, uses an icon-based graphic interface to allow users to convert files to PDF, as well as preflight, trap, impose, RIP, and soft proof. Jobs can be managed and tracked in real time from anywhere using the browser-based OneFlow Job Tracker application. OneFlow incorporates an Adobe-based RIP as well as EFI ColorWise, the company's color-management system, and ROOM ("RIP Once Output Many") proofing architecture.



Instant PDF 3.0, from Enfocus, creates Certified PDFs using Enfocus PDF Queues established on CertifiedPDF.net by printers, publishers, industry associations, and Enfocus. Users can impor t PDF queues as a built-in synchronization feature to ensure ongoing specification consistency. Once imported, the queues are accessible through the "Save as Certified PDF" file menu within tools such as Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress, and the PDF Services feature in the Mac OS X print panel.

PitStop Professional is a PDF preflight, auto-correction, and editing Adobe Acrobat plug-in that enables users to check critical PDF attributes and automatically correct common errors. Certified PDF technology embeds the PDF profile and preflight report into a file, so users can gain immediate visual feedback as well as track all edits made to a PDF. The Enfocus PDF Workflow Suite includes Instant PDF, PitStop Server, and PitStop Professional.



Esko-Graphics' Scope is a workflow solution that integrates a wide range of print-production functions"?job management, preproduction and process management, collaborative workflow, and remote and distributed operations. Scope uses an open environment to incorporate standard formats for file input and output such as PostScript and PDF, and is JDF-enabled. It can send any type of output information to proofing devices.

The BackStage workflow server allows users to specify output parameters in advance, fixing all parameters for imposition, control strips, color information, screening, etc."?reducing risk of human error downstream.

Global Graphics


Jaws PDF Creator, from Global Graphics, offers users the ability to predefine PDF configuration settings that can be selected at the point of PDF generation. PDF Creator appears as a desktop icon allowing drag-anddrop conversion of Post- Script and EPS files to PDF.

Jaws PDF Editor, a companion to PDF Creator, allows users to insert, extract, delete and rotate, and re-order pages from multiple PDF files to produce a single PDF file. PDF Creator or PDF Editor can be purchased standalone, or they can be purchased together as Jaws PDF Partner.



Grafikhuset's Chameleon CMYK PDF Creator is a "PDF repair kit" application that integrates with Adobe Acrobat 5.0 or later to "clean" PostScript files before they reach Acrobat Distiller; the result is press-ready PDF/X documents with CMYK colors.

Other CMYK PDF Creator capabilities include: impose documents into print-ready booklets on-the-fly; choosing different media sizes; output media cropping; trim marks; registration marks; black generation; color-output mode; image conversion; spot-color conversion; and automatic overprint. CMYK PDF Creator requires Windows 2000 or XP as well as Adobe Acrobat 5.0 or later.



Helios PDF Handshake 2.1 offers users the ability to print PDF separations and composite PDF documents on PostScript-compatible devices. Graphic designers can create files in Quark- XPress, Adobe InDesign, or Microsoft Office. PDF Handshake uses ColorSync and ICC color management, creates proofs of PDF files, and supports spot colors as well as TrueType and CID fonts. The software also features the ability to print registration marks and receive print jobs over the Internet in the new "PDF Internet Printing" feature. Additional capabilities include OPI and Unix support.



OneVision's Asura software is designed to correct common publishing workflow problems. It can automatically open native PDF and TIFF files as well as interpret PostScript and EPS files (separated as well as composite), and check file contents while automatically repairing errors. The software provides default check criteria to provide actions to fix errors, issue warnings, and reject documents. Once unnecessary data is removed, Asura outputs files and provides a complete log of every checked file.

Asura Pro offers everything as Asura, and has additional features including automated correction of column width and height, conversion of process colors into predefined or customized spot colors, cropping of pages with existing crop marks, and conversion of complete documents into HTML.

Solvero is OneVision's editing software for the modification and post-processing of PDF, EPS, and PostScript files. Users can select substitution fonts; evaluate OPI comments; process separated or composite files; change color spaces or blends; handle spot colors; adopt tonal range, gradations, and resolution; create duo-tone images; process images; import and export image data; change text flow and alignment; and make changes to page formats. Solvero also offers a "search and replace" function for color, fonts, and graphics.

Polkadots Software


PrePage-it, from Polkadots Software, features a drag-and-drop interface for PDF, EPS, TIFF, PS, and DCS files to hot folders. The software preflights files, automatically fixing problems as well as separating spot colors or RGB images into CMYK and creating error reports on missing fonts, PS, and RIP errors. PrePage-it sorts jobs to individual folders based on job-ticket numbers or job names and generates ROOM-file page numbers automatically. Users can also soft proof files from 72 to 1200 dpi in PDF or Photoshop format.

Files can be output to a hot-folder device, a local or remote network calibrated proofer, as well as imagesetters and CTP devices. Export formats include: 1-bit TIFFs, DCS 2, PDF, EPS, Photoshop, PS, and TIFF.

Also from Polkadots is Manage-it, a software that enables users to perform queue, job, error, archive, and file management, as well as create PDF proofs and PDF paginated booklets, and output to network devices.

Quite Software


Quite a Box of Tricks, from Quite Software, is an Adobe Acrobat plug-in that allows users to subsample and/or recompress images without any need to redistill a PDF. In addition to offering "extra-strong" JPEG compression, it also will convert any PDF file to CMYK by converting all RGB and Lab data to CMYK. The software can scale pages and also mirror them for film or fabric transfers. Users can search a document for the largest images or for an RGB image to identify trouble spots. Images are shown in exact dimensions.

Quite Imposing/Imposing Plus: Both of these products enable users to create booklets, insert blank pages into a document, shuffle pages for imposing, reverse page order, and trim from the edges of pages, among other features. Quite Imposing Plus also allows users to execute manual imposition, step-and-repeat, and define bleeds, among other functions. Users must have Adobe Acrobat 4.0, 5.0, or 6.0 (not the free Acrobat Reader) for the plug-ins to work.

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