Update on PDF Specifications for Packaging

David Zwang, Chairman of the Ghent Workgroup (GWG), talks at WhatTheyThink about the role of PDF in packaging as it moves digital. The organization has developed the PDF Processing Steps specification which is on its way to becoming an ISO standard that includes not only the file components but a standardized way to communicate embellishments and other aspects of packaging production to enable increased automation.

PDF/X-4 is the preferred PDF format

In the last survey I have asked for your preferred PDF format. The result is interesting. Almost forty percent prefer PDF/X-4. That’s very encouraging!

Alarming is the fact that 22% have voted for PDF/X-3. This format was orginally ment for media neutral PDF/X files using ICC source profiles. But this does not work any more with InDesign as soon as a page contains transparency. Since transparency is not allowed in PDF/X-3, InDesign must flatten transparency before exporting the PDF file. For this all objects on the page (regardless if they are involved in the transparency or not) are first color converted into the transparency blend space (document CMYK). During this operation the media neutral colors get lost (e.g. for ICCbased RGB images).

For layouts with transparency (which is very common these days) PDF/X-3 cannot be used. These was one of the reasons that we have published the ISO standard PDF/X-4 in 2008.

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One year Acrobat DC

Acrobat DC is available since one year. Beside a new name, a new version numbering scheme and the fact that Adobe prefers renting over selling the application, the most important change was the new user interface.

Unfortunately in daily production it turned out that for experienced users the new user interface is more complicated than the well known interfaces of Acrobat 9 and Acrobat XI. During the last year there were serveral updates with small improvements of the user interface but at the end of the day more clicks are required to execute most functions. This was also one of the reasons that there were many post of unsatisified users in online forums.

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Improvements for newsletter PDF-AKTUELL

Jaeggi2The distribution of my last newsletter created a big load on my web server. Many readers had to wait long time before a link was executed or they even got an error message.

The reason was that all links in the newsletter were redirected via my server in order to be counted by the statistic module of my newsletter software. If a lot of readers try to access at the same time it becomes critical.

I have found a way to deactivate the statistic feature. Links in the newsletter now go directly to the final web page which most of the time is not on my server.

In addition I will try to avoid to distribute the newsletter during business hours from now on. Therefore not all readers will access at the same time.

PDF creation in Document Cloud with Caution

The subcription verison of Acrobat DC can convert InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop files to PDF without these applications beeing installed on the local computer.

When the file is opened in Acrobat DC it is uploaded in the backgroud to the Document Cloud and converted there to PDF. After a while the PDF is displayed in Acrobat DC and can be saved locally.

But unfortunately not all fonts are available in Document Cloud. In my test document the UniversLT font family is used. In the PDF created in the Document Cloud these fonts get substituted by Myriad Pro which looks quite different than the PDF created on the Desktop!

www.pdf-aktuell.ch is one year old

Jaeggi2_84x88One year ago I have started a new bilingual homepage with a blog based on WordPress at www.pdf-aktuell.ch. What seamed at first an easy task, has developed into an never ending story. Constantly updates are required, adaptions and enhancement have to be added. In the meantime two dozen plugins are in operation. (A list of all Workpress plugins used currently on my site can be found on the FAQ page.) But there are still some features missing.

In the past couple of days I could add some stuff in the front and backstage (e.g. sharing feature for popular social media, pagination feature for blog posts, simpler newsletter unsubscription). Regarding the newsletter features I had bad luck recently. My provider had changed the configuration of the mailing lists. This made subscription and unsubscription impossible. Sending mails was also impossible. (That’s the reason for the late delivery of the newsletter.) After a couple of support tickets the mailing list is back to life. But now I get a lot of SPAM at the admin addresses…

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Improved user interface in Acrobat DC

After the release of Acrobat DC in April a lot of users were not satisfied with the new user inferace. The first update of Acrobat DC features also some small improvements of the user interface of Acrobat DC which allow to save some of the unnecessary mouse clicks.

The left hand pane with the icons of the navigation panes is opened automatically if the PDF contains bookmarks, attachments or digital signatures or if the PDF follows a standard (e.g. PDF/X, PDF/A). In the new version one can see directly if it’s a standard PDF (like in older Acrobat versions).

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Acrobat DC requires more mouse clicks

In Acrobat DC you can create your own tool sets. Unfortunately you will have to open your tool set again EACH time a new PDF is opened.

Since it’s not possible anymore to collapse the tool sets (like in Acrobat XI) you either have to put all your tools in one large tool set (which requires frequent scrolling) or to create multiple tool sets. A change of the active toolsets requires another two mouse clicks.

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Acrobat features for mobile devices

Most of the new features are in Arobat DC for mobile devices like iOS, Android and Windows Phone (however only version 10 is currently available.)

With Acrobat DC one can read, comment and change the page order of PDF document on mobile devices:

 However most of the features can only be used if you are subscribed to the Document Cloud and you are online!

With the iPad version you can even edit text in PDF documents but only if you own a Acrobat DC Pro subscription license (perpetual is not enough):

IMHO this is quite strange. In order to use a feature on the iPad I must subscribe to a desktop application…!!! 🙁

A new user interface for Acrobat (again)

It’s almost a tradition now. With every second version Adobe changed the user interface of Acrobat.

This time the explanation is to facilitate the use of Acrobat on mobile devices. However the full version of Acrobat is not available for mobile devices (with the exception of the not very popular Microsoft Surface (see picture)). Acrobat DC for mobile devices has a very limited feature set.

In order to allow an easier access to the features for the users of the mobile version, millions of users of the paid full version of Acrobat Standard and Pro must now learn the user interface of the appliation from scratch and invest a lot of time for search the existing features. Long time users who have purchased every update have paid serveral thousands of Dollars/Euros/Francs to Adobe in the past. And now they must suffer in order to help the users of the free mobile version…!

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Perpetual and Subscription licenses will have different features

Adobe Acrobat DC is offered as perpetual license (one time fee) as well as subscription license (monthly/annual fee). Adobe did not dare to force the Acrobat users (often big enterprises or government customers) into a subscription only license like Adobe has done with the creative users.

However there are some important differences between the two license models. The subscription license contains some features which are not available with a perpetual license:

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New version numbering for Acrobat – part 2

As already reported at the announcement the new version is not called Acrobat XII but Acrobat DC. DC does not stand for the version number (roman DC equals 600) but means Document Cloud and is part of the product name.

The official version appelation is 2015 Release. In the PDF files created with this version, only 15.x.xxxxx is mentioned:

Version number-Screenshot

Adobe is changing to the year for the version number like in Creative Cloud. Already there has been a lot of confusion e.g. when in 2/2015 the InDesign update 2014.2 was released.

Acrobat XII (12), XIII (13) und XIV (14) will never exist. Perhaps Adobe tries to break the ban that in the past (at least since Acrobat 6) every even version number did a new user interface not bring much benefits. 😉

Preflight of Callas pdfToolbox 7 in Acrobat DC

Adobe has decided to update the preflight functionality in Acrobat Pro. As you might know the preflight plug-in is developed by Callas Software in Berlin. Callas is using these preflight features also in their pdfToolbox product and do enhance the features on a quarterly bases.

Adobe and Callas now agreed to implement all the preflight checks of pdfToolbox 7 into Acrobat DC Pro and to keep the preflight features of the two products in sync in the future in order to save development and support effort.

Acrobat users therefore can make use of features like preflight variables which allow the definition of dynamic preflight checks. An other new feature is a check of the x-height of text. This is especially important for food packaging since there is a new EU regulation which defines the minimum text sizes using the x-height.

Unfortunately not all of the preflight features of pdfToolbox 7 are implemented in the new Acrobat version. Users cannot benefit from process plans nor custom preflight reports.

Adobe Reader becomes Acrobat Reader again

With new Acrobat version there will also be a new Reader. He will no longer be called Adobe Reader but gets the name Acrobat Reader again. Therefore the old confusion („I have Acrobat“) will be back.

But otherwise it would be boring… 😉

New version numbering for Acrobat – part 1

The first Acrobat versions had the version numbers 1 to 9. Starting with version 10 Adobe had the brilliant idea to switch to roman numbers: Acrobat X and Acrobat XI. I was sure that this will not last long since at least with version XIV (=14) most users will not be able to follow any more.

But Adobe was faster than expected. Instead of Acrobat XII we now get Acrobat DC. Roman D means 500 and roman C stands for 100. Is the new version number of Acrobat therefore 600?

The answer will be published in a new blog post