Hamilton–2000 – The Controversies Continue

Well, now that we’ve gotten over the millennium bug, or at least the hangover that accompanies the usual New Year’s Eve festivities, we can hopefully focus our attention on the coming year.

What will the new year/decade/century/millennium bring? Probably a lot of the same headaches the preceding one(s) bestowed upon us. That is, we can still expect to receive files that are missing fonts, images and other elements that are necessary to print. Of course, pricing and turnaround will continue to be the two legs of the stool expected to flex, while demands on quality remain as rigid as ever.

Last year was notable for all the things that were announced, but have not yet had any appreciable impact on our industry. For starters, there was the launch of Adobe In-Design, with grand claims to be the “killer app” that will release the avalanche of user discontent from the King of the Rockies. This application offers a strong tool set for the content creator, yet the question remains as to whether or not Adobe’s considerable marketing capabilities can overcome human nature’s tendency toward inertia, as well as the familiarity of QuarkXPress.

What about PDF? After doing a solo act for the past few years, Agfa was joined by the Creo-Heidelberg steamroller in offering a turnkey prepress system that is based on this file format. And others, notably Scitex and Fuji, are ramping up their efforts to support PDF for more than screen previews and remote proofing.

While there are still bugs—Acrobat 4.0 was not exactly the cleanest release of all time—there is no doubt that PDF is sufficiently robust to satisfy many commercial printing applications. This is where the prepress community must take a stand, as going the full PDF route will also entail upgrading the RIP for many shops, since it requires a PostScript 3-compatible RIP in order to make the work flow. And, there are a lot of shops out there still working with PostScript Level 2 systems or earlier, so this may still be a work in progress.

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