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PREFLIGHTING -- Getting a Fix on Files

September 2001
BY MARK SMITH


Like digital cockroaches, file errors have threatened to infest electronic prepress operations since the first job was sent to a RIP. Problems caused by missing fonts or photos, RGB colors, improper transformations, etc., persist despite the industry's best efforts to eradicate them.

What makes the situation so frustrating is that there's a ready solution for eliminating these bugs—just get clients to prepare their print files correctly—and processing bottlenecks will become extinct. Given that the digital revolution is more than a decade old and receiving bad files still is a top industry complaint, that doesn't seem likely to happen any time soon. Rather than fading away, the problem is becoming more acute. With the move to all-digital workflows, having clean files becomes a must.

The adoption of PDF-based workflows was supposed to provide relief, but instead has actually made the problem more complex in some ways. Now there's a whole new crop of tools that have been designed just to address the issue of preparing proper PDF files. Other development efforts have focused on bringing preflight responsibility back to the job originator, where it rightly belongs and where the fixes are easiest to make. Internet-based solutions are prime examples of this trend. At the same time, professional grade tools are being enhanced to provide more detailed analysis of files and greater automation of the inspection and correction processes.

Some of these developments are reflected in new preflight product introductions slated for PRINT 01 or later in the year.

Automated Preflighting
Markzware Inc. reports it is preparing to launch FlightCheck Vision, which will offer a greater depth of file inspection and enable users to implement an automated preflight workflow. At the application's core is a relational database—called MarkzONE—that records all of the intricate details of a file.

For example, it can identify all the RGB TIFFs placed in a document, list the colors used on specific page, or find a box rotated more than eight degrees. The database can then be searched with simple or advanced queries about the job in order to pinpoint problems that could stop production.

The automated workflow feature allows users to specify how documents are to be scanned. Once preflighting is completed, the originating application is then launched so a PostScript file can be output to the folder "watched" by Acrobat Distiller, which automatically writes a PDF file.

The preflight software currently handles QuarkXPress, PageMaker, Illustrator, Freehand, Microsoft Word, Photoshop and Multi-Ad Creator application files, as well as PDF and PostScript. It generates on-screen and/or printable reports that can be customized to show any depth of information desired. Alternatively, the Vision Viewer function enables report screens to be shared via a Viewer file that can be reviewed as a run-time display.
 

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