Binary Graphics, Inc.

Adobe Acrobat and You

by John Knapp, Binary Graphics, Inc. Seattle
© 1997 Binary Graphics, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

Version 3 of Adobe Acrobat will enable significant improvements of the electronic prepress workflow. It will practically reinvent electronic prepress for many of us. All of us must be aware of what it is and how it applies to our operations.

As I hope you are aware, Acrobat is a technology from Adobe which lets publishers produce portable electronic documents from any desktop application. They retain absolute fidelity to the original and can be viewed and printed on any computing platform which runs Acrobat. The first two versions of Acrobat were successful for electronic storage and retrieval of information including the integration of Acrobat .pdf files (portable document format) into the world wide web.

Version 3 adds, for the first time, features specific to production printing: OPI support. Storage of high-res CMYK image data, overprinting and named color spaces (like Pantone.) Inclusion of output related information like halftoning, undercolor removal and black generation. When we print Acrobat version 3 files we can activate output necessities like printers marks and separations.

So how might this change our workflow?

Let's have our customers buy Acrobat 3.0 and use it to make .pdf versions of their publications. Let's have them proof their .pdf files and send them to us on disk. (No need for fonts and graphics since they are embedded in the .pdf file.) Our gains here are obvious; one file with all elements included which can be proofed by the customer before it is submitted. And we no longer care what kind of computer the customer uses since all .pdf files are equal.

Once in our shop, we can either send the job direct to film, or to our trapping and imposition applications. Since .pdf files are much simpler than PostScript files they are much easier to output and present few output problems. Our gains here are equally obvious; we're dealing with just one highly structured data format which is ready for prepress steps or output. In the future, Adobe PostScript Level 3 will accept .pdf data directly into the RIP.

Now as I see it, the tricky part of this process will be in creating the .pdf file. Your customers use the Acrobat Distiller for this essentially printing to a hot folder watched by the Distiller application. Their desktop layouts must be correctly produced and the Distiller needs to be correctly configured. It is conceivable that some jobs (the same jobs we have trouble ripping today) will be difficult to Distill. These problems can usually be traced to questionable desktop technique.

There will be many significant opportunities for us to create more efficient and reliable prepress workflows using Acrobat. I encourage you to become educated on this technology and see how it fits into your own operation. I would welcome conversations on this topic with any interested parties.



Article index

On-line glossary

Getting help