Binary Graphics, Inc.

Adobe Acrobat and You; Part II

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

I wrote about Acrobat a while ago and it's time for another look at this pivotal technology. Let's talk about its role in your electronic prepress workflow:

First, you should know that Adobe Acrobat 3.0 is a $395 package available for Mac, Windows 95 or NT and Unix. The package includes all the tools you (or your clients) need to create, display, modify and print pdf files. (pdf stands for Portable Document Format and portable means the file can go cross platform without a hitch.)

The pdf format has become an an excellent format for desktop job submission. That's because a modern pdf file can include all fonts, graphics, high-resolution CMYK scans or OPI image links. A pdf file can include "litho-ready" color spaces like Pantone and process and includes overprinting information. They are even sort-of editable (a plug-in called "Touch-up" allows an operator to fix minor typos) and a pdf can be exported to eps for further work. Another very significant feature of pdf files is that they output well. (A common troubleshooting approach today is to convert a troublesome layout into a pdf and then output it.)

The conversion process includes making the proper output settings in the desktop application and then printing PostScript data into a folder watched by an application called Acrobat Distiller. The Distiller essentially RIPs the PostScript and outputs pdf data according to your settings. The settings one makes in Distiller include embedding fonts and declaring the desired resolution for scanned images. This conversion results in one compact file that is can be sent to prepress. (If you or your customer places OPI low-res images into the file the OPI comments are included in the pdf.) The resulting pdf file can be displayed, annotated and printed using Acrobat Exchange. Output can include proofing to a color device or separating the output to film. (Printing through your OPI server will swap in the high-res scans.)

There are some concerns over the step of creating the pdf. If your customer does it you should make sure they know how to do it right. (And that they know how to produce a solid digital mechanical.) This could be an excellent way to simplify your work and to handle jobs from non-standard platforms and applications.

Adobe is hanging much of their future on pdf. Their upcoming PostScript Level 3 technology (Supra) will allow you to send pdf to the RIP instead of PostScript. Adobe is also pitching pdf as a format for distribute and print strategies and for richly formatted web pages. They have also just released a tool (Acrobat Capture) which scans paper documents and turns them into pdf. All very handy.

Invest the time now to come up to speed and see how Acrobat fits into your workflow.



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