FILE FORMATS & STANDARDS — Practices Make Perfect

Noted industry consultant Dave Zwang is serving as vice chairman of GWG and is its point person in the United States. “The PDF/X standard is extremely broad, as all standards are,” he says. “As a result, you can create a PDF/X file that might not represent the requirements of the print process that you are using. The Ghent Workgroup is developing application-specific ‘best practices’ that further filter the PDF/X requirements.”

Worldly Views

What may prove most significant about the workgroup’s efforts is its global focus, Zwang contends. GWG is striving to establish and promote the use of one set of best practices and standards for printing on a global basis, he says.

The need for this approach was particularly apparent when the group set out to establish default best practices for workflows based on the PDF/X-3 format, since it allows for ICC color managed and RGB-based production, reports the GWG vice chairman. “This effort got very complicated when we tried to tailor the preferences to each region and application.”

In an example of thinking outside the box, Zwang says the group came to ask, “Why not establish a universal set of color reference specifications?” The idea seemed doable, since 80 percent of printing ink is manufactured by two companies, most of the paper comes from a handful of companies, and the same press and prepress manufacturers sell to printers worldwide, he notes.

The workgroup set about lobbying the various regional industry bodies—like SWOP, GRACoL, ECI, etc. “We facilitated a meeting of the minds and are now well on the way toward establishing a set of global color reference specifications. It’s going to take a little more discussion, but the ball is rolling,” Zwang says.

Another important facet of the Ghent PDF Workgroup is serving as a voice for PDF users, its vice chairman asserts. It provides a conduit for equipment and software manufacturers to understand the needs of the marketplace. While membership isn’t open to individual printers and prepress operations, their interests are well served by the associations that belong to GWG, he says.

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