New survey: Which Preflight tool(s)
are you using frequently?

The question of the last survey was how many of your PDF files are checked by a Prelight tool.

In the new survey I would like to know which Preflight tool(s) are you using frequently

Which Preflight tool(s) are you using frequently?


Most PDF files are checked by Preflight!

The result of the last survey on how many PDF files are checked by a preflight tool is surprisingly very positiv. The majority of the PDF files of the readers of PDF-AKTUELL run through a preflight check. But there are still almost 20% of the users were less than a quarter of the PDFs are checked:

How many of your PDF files are checked by a Prelight tool?


Four color conversion technologies
for PDF

In my new seminar PDF Color Management I discuss four different color conversion technologies:

  • Pure ICC color conversion (ICC)
  • ICC color conversion with exceptions (ICC-Plus)
  • DeviceLink conversion (DVL)
  • Smart color conversion (Smart)

Which PDF tools do support these technologies can be seen in the following table:

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Quality loss after color conversion
in Acrobat

In preparation of my new seminar PDF Color Management I have tested the image compression before and after color conversion in the most popular PDF tools.

In highend PDFs destinated for quality printing the images are usually compressed using JPEG maximum quality. Before color conversion the images must be decompressed and afterwards compressed again. Acrobat always uses JPEG medium quality for this recompression. The consequence is that there is an (unexpected) loss of quality of the color converted images (see table).

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End of support for Acrobat/Reader XI

On October 15, 2017 Adobe discontinued the support of Adobe Acrobat XI und Adobe Reader XI. Adobe only supports during five years. That means that Adobe no longer provides technical support, including product and/or security updates, for this version of the application.

However the software can still be used!

According to my survey last year Acrobat XI is the most used Acrobat version by my readers. This is also confirmed by the feedback of the attendees of my seminars.


PDF/VCR for variable data
printing in real ime

The ISO has released the new standard ISO 16613-1 PDF/VCR (PDF for variable content replacement). VCR allows to define PDF templates for variable data. The templates are defined as PDF/X-4 with place holders for the variable data which are merged during print production in real time. Contrary to PDF/VT when using PDF/VCR the variable data must not be saved.

Use cases for this new standard are security sensitive printing applications like printing credit card pins, serial numbers (e.g. for pharmaceutical packaging) or tickets. In a news release of NPES the format is described in more details.


OneVision Asura
already supports PDF 2.0

OneVision has announced that their workflow software Asura, which will be released in the upcoming weeks in generation 17.2, will already support PDF 2.0 fully. Users may use this to convert incoming PDF 2.0 files into PDF 1.3 for example, ensuring that other applications in the workflow can process these files.

In addition Asura supports VDP – Variable Data Printing. In combination with Solvero, OneVision’s PDF editor, variable data such as addresses, graphics and images can be inserted into a PDF template for personalization. Resulting PDF files can be generated either manually with Solvero, or fully automated with Asura.


ZePrA 6 from ColorLogic with PantoneLIVE integration

Version 6 of the ColorLogic color server features an integration with PantoneLIVE. This allows to online access spectral definitions of spot colors.

There are additional improvements in the area of spot color iteration and better administration of spot color libraries. In addition there are improvement in handling queues and configuration.

In the online help for the ZePrA the new features are covered indepth.


eciCMYK (FOGRA53) as new CMYK exchange color space

ECI has released the ICC color profile eciCMYK.icc. It’s based on the printing condition FOGRA53 defined by Fogra. The goal is a large gamut exchange space which covers all printing technologies (offset, gravure, digital). The eciCMYK profile can be download for free.

Since the gamut of eciCMYK is larger than any real printing gamut and the profile allows a high total ink coverage (TAC), this profile is not suitable for printing.

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Callas pdfToolbox 9.3 with new
color separation feature

The update 9.3 of pdf Toolbox from Callas adds a new feature for the color separation of CMYK and spot color pages. This sounds like a déjà vue. In the late 1990ies color separation of PDF pages was a huge topic. (I was working on a software solution myself.) But it seams that there is still a need. Just recently I had such an enquiry. The customer would like to check separations on the monitor and print them on a laser printer if necessary.

During the first test I recognized a mess with the separation names in the page label fields when the PDF had multiple pages. I have reported the bug to Callas and after a two weeks the problem was fixed in an update. Therefore you should update to version 9.3.434.


Impact of PDF 2.0 on Print Production

Martin Bailey, CTO of Global Graphics and member of serveral ISO committees regarding PDF standards, talks about the impact of PDF 2.0 in a whitepaper (19 pages) and a webinar (YouTube, 40′). He also covers the risks and gives some recommendations for the transition to PDF 2.0.


Acrobat August 2017 Update released

Adobe has releaded planned Updates for Acrobat DC and Acrobat 2017. As usual there are two different updaters:

The update can also be installed using the Acrobat menu Help > Check for Updates….

Some of the new features are only available in the subscription version. IMHO there are not interesting new features for users in print production in this update.

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PDF 2.0 (ISO standard 32000-2)
is (finally) published!

After nine years of (hard) work the ISO has published PDF 2.0 as ISO standard 32000-2:2017. This is the first PDF specification which was completely developed by more than 30 PDF experts from all over the world in an ISO working group. ISO 32000-1:2008 was basically a takeover of PDF 1.7 from Adobe. PDF 2.0 is more an evolution than a revolution. An important goal was compatibility to older PDF versions.

Seven chapters of the specification (971 pages in total) have been completely rewritten (e.g. transparency, tagged PDF). The goal was not to introduce new features but to eliminate ambiguities and errors of old specifications.

Beside other new features there are also some enhancements for digital prepress data:

  • Setting to activate black-point compensation (BPC) for each object. This allows to define predictable color conversions.
  • Output Intent per page (optional). E.g. Coated for the cover pages and Uncoated for the body pages of the same PDF.
  • Use of spectral data for spot colors (using CxF/X-4).
  • Definition of the printing order (e.g. for sheetfed offset).
  • Enhanced halftone features (origin, halftone dot shape).

Nine reasons to preflight

The Ghent Workgroup (GWG) has published an interesting poster:

On the front page the GWG is presented. On the back nine reasons to preflight are listed (compiled by belgian VIGC). Each topic is illustrated with an eample.

This page can be used to check how certain PDF definitions are displayed in different viewers (Acrobat/Reader, Apple Preview, etc.) and output devices (printer, proofer, imagesetter).

In addition one should check this PDF with a preflight tool in order to also detect the problems which are not visible. For this the preflight profiles GWG2012 or GWG2015 (part of Acrobat DC Pro, Callas pdfToolbox, Enfocus PitStop Pro) and of course the preflight profiles for Acrobat Pro from PDFX-ready are highly recommended.


Is JPEG2000 compression suitable
for PDF files for prepress?

For the new Adobe InDesign export settings V2.5 for PDF/X-4 CMYK+RGB from PDFX-ready the technical committee of PDFX-ready has investigated if a change of the compression method from the traditional JPEG to the newer JPEG2000 would be useful.

JPEG2000 uses a completely different compression technology (wavelet transformation) than the old JPEG (discrete cosine transformation). The new technology promises a better quality together with smaller file sizes. JPEG2000 also allows images with more than 8 bits per channel and up to 256 channels. That sounds promising…

We already knew from tests of the Ghent Workgroup that not all PDF viewers (especially on mobile devices) can handle PDFs with JPEG2000. With other PDF viewers (including Acrobat/Reader) displaying JPEG2000 images is much slower than JPEG images.

But after all we wanted to know if we could recommend JPEG2000 compression for prepress data. That’s why we decided to perform a series of practical tests with a calendar with highres images in different color spaces (Device-CMYK, ICC-CMYK, ICC-RGB). Peter Kleinheider has done the output tests with two different RIPs and I did the export tests with Adobe InDesign CC2017.

When comparing the test results we noticed some unexpected surprises!

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