Disastrous PDF/X-4 compatibility
with new Affinity Publisher 1.7.1

The final version 1.7.1 of Affinity Publisher has recently been released. In the media, this program has already been considered an InDesign killer. The feature overview is indeed very promising. Regarding PDF/X support, the following statement is made on the website:

«You can also open, edit and output PDF/X files.»

Two years ago this claim was already made for the vector graphics program Affinity Designer 1.4. Then I tested Affinity Designer 1.4 using the Ghent PDF Output Suite 5.0, the internationally recognized standard test for PDF/X compatibility. The result with Affinity Designer 1.4 was disappointing. I was curious to see if the new Affinity Publisher – a multi-page layout program where secure PDF import and export is even more important than for a vector graphics program – would now have better compatibility with PDF/X-4 files.

So I tried to place the six pages of the Ghent PDF Output Suite 5.0 in a new Affinity Publisher document and export them as PDF/X-4 (using the standard PDF/X-4 setting of the application). Placement was not successful for all pages. When importing page 4, the program crashed immediately. I then placed the test elements contained on this page one by one and found out that Affinity Designer had problems with the elements GWG 2.0 (Spot to CMYK Overprint) and GWG 12.0 (White Overprint/Knockout). So I omitted them to get the most complete result possible.

Even without the two elements the result is catastrophic:

A cross (64), a deviation from the reference image (9), the absence of an element (19) or a check mark (6) indicate an error when importing and/or exporting the PDF/X-4 file. In total I counted 98 errors. I have never seen such a bad result in the fourteen years since Ghent PDF Output Suite has been available!

Most errors already occur when importing the PDF pages. One can already see the problems on the screen. But not all pages show the errors as clearly as the test elements of the Ghent PDF Output Suite. When creating the test elements, we put a lot of effort into visualizing the deviations as clearly as possible.

These errors are very problematic for everyone who has to place existing PDF pages in a layout. This is necessary, for example, for ad pagination. There is a great danger that the ads on the newspaper or magazine page will no longer look the same as in the original PDF ad supplied.

When placing PDF/X files in Affinity Publisher 1.7.x extreme caution is required!!!

UPDATE 4.2.21: Import and export of PDF/X-4 with Affinity Publisher 1.9 is now flawles

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