In Sommer 1990 my colleague Chuck Weger has presented the concept and the term “Preflight” for the first time. 1993 the application FlightCheck from Markzware was introduces, which could check files of layout applications (Aldus PageMaker, QuarkXPress, later Adobe InDesign).
The first preflight tool for PDF was devloped by Enfocus. Later Callas pdfInspektor, which is now part of Callas pdfToobox, was added. In 2002 the PDF/X-3 Inspector (Freeware) for Acrobat 5 was released which made creating and checking of the ISO standard PDF/X-3 possible. In April 2003 Adobe has implemented a preflight feature based on the Callas pdfInspector in Acrobat 6. Also in the latest Acrobat version the preflight feature is provided by Callas.
These preflight solutions all support most of the current ISO standards. Associations like the international PDFX-ready in Switzerland have defined additional rules and preflight profiles for different market segements based on the ISO standards PDF/X-1a and PDF/X-4. These additional rules are called PDF/X-Plus.and
Of course these preflight standard profiles are quite general. In some cases it is beneficial to add additional company or job specific checks (e.g. page size, bleed, spot color names, font names). I call this fouth level of specifications PDFX-Plus-Plus:
In the last couple of years I could develop such preflight profiles for a couple of customers (e.g. Mobiliar Insurances, Novartis Pharma, Wolters Kluver Publications, Typopharma) which facilitate the creation of better and more reliable PDFs for printing.