PDF WORKFLOW--Still a Juggling Act
Therefore, it will take some effort to sell the creative community on the benefits of PDF. One option would be to offer a financial incentive to change or, conversely, a disincentive for maintaining the status quo. Either way, the move to PDF-based production could be an opportunity for the industry as a whole to finally establish a policy that any file "fixes" will incur a fee.
There is another issue that could complicate adoption of PDF on the front end. Not all PDF files are equal, so there is the potential for confusion when people talk about PDF-based workflows and production. A variety of organizations, companies and interested parties are participating in the effort to establish the PDF/X standard file format. This effort initially is targeting applications in the advertising/publication market, but the standard is also expected to have value in the broader commercial printing arena.
PDF/X is a subset of the general format, and is designed to increase the reliability of transferred files in terms of processing and the printed result. A system that produces and/or consumes PDF files doesn't automatically support PDF-X.
As PDF use grows, it will become increasingly important to be clear about what specific file format is being requested and delivered.
For those shops looking to make the move to PDF-based production, the list of potential workflow solutions continues to grow. Besides PDF (PDF 1.3 and PDF/X) support, a fairly standard set of features has been established for competitive workflow systems. The exact configurations and implementations vary, but these systems typically offer:
- client/server architecture (usually Windows NT) for scalability, including multi-processor support;
- automatic preflighting and normalizing of incoming files;
- automation of other tasks through the use of electronic job tickets, templates and hot folders;
- trapping, imposition and OPI functions;
- support of PostScript, EPSF, TIFF/IT-P1 and 1-bit TIFF file formats; and