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The Ever-Changing PDF Picture

(March 2008) posted on Thu Mar 06, 2008

What's new in PDF workflow, and how XPS might change all that.

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By Stephen Beals

It may surprise some readers that Quark came out with its own Acrobat plug-in for creating impositions of PDF files from within Acrobat, offered along with imposition software for use within XPress as part of the Quark Print Collection. They work in essentially the same way, offering users the ability to do some fairly sophisticated imposition from directly within either program. And the Acrobat plug-in works for any PDF file, not just those created from QuarkXPress.

In January of this year, Callas software announced the release of Callas pdfToolbox 3, with a server version and command line interface version also available. This Acrobat plug-in can perform such problem-solving tasks as removing elements unnecessary for print or preparing entire documents for a specific production process. For less technical users, it provides step-by-step approaches to defining the origin of the file, defining the destination, and checking and correcting documents, regardless of the user’s level of expertise.

Increasing automation

The PDF format itself is mature, says Dwight Kelly, president of Apago, which produces a number of PDF tools and is working on job ticket-based PDF workflow automation products. "This is even more true now that ISO has taken control of the PDF specification and Adobe is just one of the implementers. PDF will soon be an international standard managed by ISO, which means that we have a stable platform, PDF 1.7, upon which to build innovative products and workflows. (The PDF structure) is not changing significantly between revisions, but there’s lots of progress happening on the software side, and innovation abounds from suppliers that fill the gaps in users’ demanding PDF workflows."

And speaking of standards, in February of 2007 the PDF-standards group, Ghent PDF Workgroup, released new PDF-workflow specifications for large-format and screen printing. The four new specifications comprise two for large-format digital printing and two for screen printing, and they can be downloaded for free at the GWG website (