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Does a "True Adobe" RIP Matter?

(April 2003) posted on Tue Apr 08, 2003

A topic of continuing debate


By Jake Widman

A couple of weeks ago, The Big Picture's editor-in-chief visited DuPont for a look at their CromaPro inkjet proofing system. Developed to help graphic designers generate color-accurate proofs on workgroup inkjet printers, CromaPro combines DuPont's sophisticated color-management tools with an Adobe PostScript 3 RIP.

In a note to me afterwards, she mentioned that her hosts had brought up the value of using a RIP from Adobe rather than one from another vendor. For designers that rely on one or more of Adobe's front-end products (InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Acrobat, etc.), having an Adobe product on the back end reduces the chances of things going wrong. Or so it was claimed.

I started to wonder why that should be the case. As far as I knew, PostScript and PDF, while developed by Adobe, were fully documented. If the language is fully defined, why would Adobe have an advantage in writing an interpreter? Could it be that Adobe was using the tactic Microsoft has so often been accused of: Having their applications write code that only their RIP could fully understand? Or was it more like the instructions in the plastic airplane models I made as a kid that advise, "For best results, use only Revell brand glue"--a ruse I saw through even at age 10?

So I decided to ask around. I spoke to Ken Hogrefe and Mark Rauscher, technical marketing managers at DuPont; Torey Bruno, product manager for Adobe's print workflow products; Adrian Ford, CTO of Global Graphics, makers of the Jaws and Harlequin RIPs and supplier of the technology that's going to enable PDF export from QuarkXPress; and John Parsons, director of marketing communications for CGS, maker of the O.R.I.S. PDF and PostScript file editor.


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