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An Imposing Situation

(July 2006) posted on Mon Jul 31, 2006

A few imposition solutions that won't break the bank.


By Stephen Beals

For some shops, imposition is critical"?important enough to justify high-end imposition programs such as Kodak Preps, Dynagram DynaStrip and Imposition, or Ultimate ImpoStrip. Sophisticated products like these carry substantially high price tags, topping out at around $10,000.


Another option for shops that need high-end imposition: Some workflow solutions now bundle imposition software with their products. Recently, for instance, Enfocus announced that it will make Impostrip OnDemand Digital 5.0 a plug-in for its PitStop Automate product. Offering a very sophisticated workflow, this product carries a price tag of about $6000 (pricing for the Impostrip add-on has yet to be announced).


On the other end of the spectrum are the shops that primarily do one-up jobs. In these cases, imposition is probably not a big issue. If there"?s a need to gang a couple of images together, this can be handled in a page-layout program such as Adobe InDesign or QuarkXPress, or in the basic software that comes with the RIP.


What if you"?re in-between these two extremes, however? You take on some imposition for a few jobs or perhaps for a few longstanding clients on a regular basis. So you need a good solution, but not one that will break the bank. If this describes your operation, a few solutions are available to you.


Adding on capabilities
I indicated earlier, many shops turn to a page-layout program such as Adobe InDesign or QuarkXPress. The shop simply builds a few standard templates, creates standard elements (such as color bars, crop marks, identification slugs, etc.), and puts them on the pasteboard for convenient access. Then it uses the program"?s step-and-repeat and auto-centering functions to populate the templates as needed. For standard sheet sizes, it"?s easy to use the replace function to insert new pages, while programs with the ability to import PDFs add some versatility.


Several plug-ins available for QuarkXPress and InDesign can add automated imposition capabilities to these programs. Quark, which bought Lowly Apprentice Production (ALAP) in 2005, offers ALAP Impose ($199.99, single user), Imposer Pro ($399.99), and ALAP Imposer Pro for Adobe Acrobat ($399.99), all through ThePowerXChange (www.thepowerxchange.com). Adobe, meanwhile, is now bundling InBookletSE"?a limited-edition version of the former ALAP InBooklet plug-in"?with its InDesign CS2.


A score of other plug-in imposition options are also available, including:


Quite Imposing Plus, from Quite Software (www.quite.com) in the UK, is a robust imposition software for those with serious imposition needs and a limited budget. One particularly useful feature of the Plus version is the ability to use "virtual masking tape"? to cover up or reveal selected elements on a page. You can also add text or page numbers to a job right in the imposition software. Price: approximately $955 US. Also available is the standard Quite Imposing, for approximately $477 US(although this lacks many key features of the Plus version).


PDF Crackerjack from Arts PDF (www.artspdf.com) is a PDF software bundle that"?s similar to Enfocus PitStop, but offers a different feature set. One of those features is a pretty strong imposition capability. Price: $495. In addition, the company packages its Crackerjack product with Quite"?s Quite Imposing Plus, as well as other useful software, into a single bundle"?the Arts PDF Print Suite. The Suite is available in two versions: The Plus version of the bundle includes PDF Crackerjack and Enfocus PitStop Professional and PDF Stamper; price: $899. The Pro version of the bundle adds Quite Imposing Plus to the deal; price: $1599.


Australian company Withflair Software (www.withflair.com.au) has produced a product titled Impose-It. Three different versions are available, each building on the feature package. Wide-format print providers will probably opt for the Deluxe version, which allows users to build non-standard versions. Price: $117 (Basic), $177 (Standard), and $237 (Deluxe)"?all prices in USdollars. It"?s available in Windows only.


Cheap Impostor (www.cheapimpostor.com), a program written by Dylan McNamee, is a Mac-only program primarily for imposing booklets. It imposes PDF documents. Price: $35.


BookLightning, from Metaobject in the UK (www.metaobject.com), is a Mac-only product that also imposes PDF documents. Price: $50.


PDF Snake, from Rennie Glen Software (www.pdfsnake.com) in Mountain View, CA, is a Windows-only product. This is a plug-in for the full version of Acrobat. Price: $340.


If the ability to create booklets in printer"?s spreads from QuarkXPress is all you need, a product called Bookletizer from Vision"?s Edge (www.visionsedge.com) may suffice. It"?s a QuarkXPress plug-in for both Mac and Windows, and it"?s the only one I know of that has already released a Quark 7 update (for Mac only so far). Price: $69.


Acro Software"?s CutePDF (www.cutepdf.com) is a Windows-only plug-in for Acrobat Reader (note: you don"?t need the full version of Acrobat for this one) that allows you to do so some very basic imposition and has booklet-making capability. Price: $49.95.


JoLauterbach Software (www.jolauterbach.com) in Frankfurt, Germany, has created JoUp for Acrobat and QuarkXPress. It"?s a product that is actually two different plug-ins"?you get both the QuarkXPress and Acrobat Plug-in for one price. Features include automatic generation of spot-color bars and hot-folder support. Price: approximately $628 US.


Standing alone
Also available for your imposition arsenal are PDF Enhancer from Apago, a standalone product, and Dots Pilot 2, a product that is, in essence, a PDF printer driver:


Apago"?s PDF Enhancer (www.apagoinc.com) boasts an imposition feature that is more of an add-on to the program"?s primary features: merging random PDF files, inspecting and optimizing PDFs, and repurposing PDF files for various uses (Web, print, etc.). Although it"?s hardly a full-featured imposition tool, it might provide you with all the imposition power that you need. Price: $399.


Dots Pilot 2 from Dots Software (www.dots-software.com) is a printer-driver-based application for Windows that allows you to print imposed work from "any application."? You can re-order the pages right in the print dialog box. Price: $199.


It might be a little hard to reconcile the fact that you can spend anywhere from $35 to more than $10,000 for imposition software. But no one ever said software pricing makes a lot of sense. Of course, the bottom line is that the more you pay, generally the more you get. The question really becomes: How much do you need? For many shops, the less well-endowed software could be all that"?s necessary.


Stephen Beals (bpworkflow@verizon.net), in prepress pro"?duction for more than 30 years, is the digital prepress man"?ager with Finger Lakes Press in Auburn, NY.



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