Go with the workflow
IntroductionThe original idea behind Adobe’s PDF (Portable Document Format) was for “a universal file-format that preserves all the fonts, formatting, graphics and colour of any source document, regardless of the application and platform used to create it”. Notice the lack of the word ‘editable’. In fact, making PDFs non-editable was possibly part of the original appeal – a document could be proofed on-screen and printed, but not altered.
How would you know if changes had been made? In January 2001, Enfocus released its Certify PDF Acrobat plug-in. This nifty piece of software takes a snapshot of a PDF after every change. It lists a detailed log of all changes, tracks who made them, and allows you to compare snapshots and go back to any previous one. In short, it’s a godsend to any PDF-based production department.
Initially sold as a separate item, it’s now incorporated into Enfocus Software’s latest products: Pitstop Professional 5, Pitstop Server 2, and Instant PDF 2.
PitStop Pro’s Preflighting capabilities are legendary among PDF creators. By using a profile that matches the PDF’s purpose, all aspects can be checked – including fonts, colours, and images. Profiles include a number of options, such as a level of severity (ignore, caution, or enforce) or an action (do, do not, remove, or correct). Via its Action List, Pitstop Pro makes checks and changes while preflighting and creates a report (as a PDF, of course) detailing each problem and correction.
As a PDF editor, Pitstop Pro has no equal. Text and graphics can be edited freely, individually or globally, throughout a document. Any item can have its colour mode changed between CMYK, RGB and greyscale (even bitmap images). New text and graphics can be added to documents, and even copied-&-pasted between pages and other files. For a colour-controlled system, Pitstop Pro supports ICC profiling including the tagging/untagging of individual items. Scaling, rotation, changing of bézier paths – the list is pretty well endless. If it continues to develop in this way, Pitstop Pro may well turn Acrobat into a pseudo-DTP program.
A number of useful new features have been added. The incorporation of Certified PDF and the calling-up of changed states gives Pitstop Pro an interesting take on the conventional ‘undo’ command, as many edits cannot usually be undone. The Profile editor has been redesigned to be more user-friendly, and includes on-screen explanations for each function. Additionally, Acrobat 5’s support for transparency can now be handled.
Take the core functions of Pitstop Pro, such as PDF Profiles and Action List, and make this the centre of a stand-alone, automated application that works via a series of interacting hot folders – that’s Pitstop Server. Starting from the input folder, a PDF’s characteristics are checked against the required profile and changed according to the various actions selected, along with the generation of a comprehensive report. The actions library is the same as for Pitstop Pro and includes the ability to convert colours between RGB, CMYK and greyscale; embed fonts; resample for print or Web; optimize for a particular use (such as CD-ROM, four-colour press and Web); determine ICC tagging/untagging of images; remove OPI dependency; correct of knockout/overprint; page renumbering; and PDF/X-1 compliancy. In short, a pretty comprehensive set of actions that Enfocus supports via its Web site (www.enfocus.com).
The latest version adds many of the changes incorporated into Pitstop Pro 5, including full support for Certified PDF and the redesigned PDF Profile Editor. Additionally, Pitstop Server now automatically sets up the suite of hot folders, and can send a notification email when a job has been completed.
Instant PDF is essentially a single-user version of Pitstop Server. Also an Acrobat plug-in, it allows you to create a desktop printer with an associated PDF Profile, but without access to the Actions library or the PDF Profile Editor. In other words, it preflights a PDF and reports back on any problems and corrections, but cannot make other on-the-fly changes such as resampling for Web use, or page renumbering.
Having created the desktop printer, it’s a doddle to use from within any DTP or graphics package. Instant PDF accesses Acrobat Distiller in the background and creates a Certified PDF, saving it to a folder of choice, or sending it as an email attachment.