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Advancements in Preflighting--Ensuring All Documents

March 1998
Preflighting is gaining momentum. You see it absorbed into comprehensive workflow solutions by major prepress vendors; you read about its growing compatibility with PDF, PostScript and other file formats; and you hear about the latest upgrades in preflighting tools, ranging from preview enhancements to the actual repair of bad fonts and colors within a file.

What's the catalyst for all this?

Mary Sommerset, senior product manager for preflighting at Extensis, makes the following observation: "Ask prepress operators what the single most useful thing a software company can do for them and the answer, a majority of the time, will be to help their customers create better files that print flawlessly."

Sound right?

You bet; right on the money!

"Implicit in this request is the need to improve communication between prepress professionals and their clients," Sommerset continues. "The preflight process is essential, even for the most sophisticated digital workflows."

Thus, commercial printing magnates are aligning with software giants to create an all-digital workflow for prepress operators in the trenches. At the same time, equipment and consumables manufacturers are racing to develop the ideal digital workflow—a start-to-finish solution that solves all problems.

In short, Sommerset speculates, while Adobe Systems is hard at work to further develop its much-needed successor to PostScript Level 2, as well as its vision for PDF, many influential commercial printers are suggesting, demanding and begging that their very specific needs be met.

Let's scrutinize what enhancements are fine-tuning today's preflighting vehicles and what trends are hitting the preflight runway.

  • Today's preflighting tools are better analyzing and previewing PDF and PostScript files, and moving to QuarkXPress 4.0, PageMaker and Frame-Maker compatibility, among other file destinations. For preflighting, compatibility is critical.

  • Preflighting software now makes it easier for commercial printers to ensure all the fonts and graphics have been included within a job—and that RGB images and low-resolution files are identified, for example.

  • Preflighting is not only finding mistakes within a document's digital composition, but actually repairing those mistakes on-the-fly.

  • Preflighting is being incorporated on a large scale into comprehensive workflow solutions marketed by the major prepress equipment vendors.

    "All vendors are now making preflighting software more comprehensive because the future is sending files direct-to-plate," reports Francis Lamy, founder of DALiM. "No one wants to find errors when a job is on-press, so it's up to the automation of the production cycle to fix all mistakes up front."
 

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