Enfocus Pitstop Extreme 2008 review

Just about everyone working in pre-press or production will know what a nightmare it is to discover a last minute problem with a PDF. With Sod’s Law in action, the designer will be ill, the client wouldn’t know what transparency was if they saw a ghost, or the picture server’s offline and you can’t regenerate the PDF. If Acrobat Professional were more helpful, this wouldn’t be such a problem, but editing text or layout in PDFs is impossible beyond basic tweaks.

Now Enfocus Pitstop Extreme has made editing and preflighting PDFs as easy as creating a layout in Quark or InDesign. Open a PDF and after a somewhat lengthy wait, you’ll have an editable document, with an interface reminiscent of Illustrator 3, albeit with some odd shortcuts. You can edit text, move, scale and rotate objects, change transparency, insert pages, change fill colours, edit bleed, place images – the works. After you’re done, you can preflight the document according to your profile, and then save it, all without changing any metadata – although that’s always an option. And if you suspect you’re going to be doing the same changes to a lot of PDFs, you can set up Photoshop-style actions for automation.

Okay, it can’t work wonders. If you don’t have a font installed and the PDF doesn’t have all the necessary glyphs embedded, it’s not going to be able to do anything. Depending on how the document was created and the layering involved, some objects may prove uneditable. Its colour spaces also stop at CMYK, so don’t expect to be able to add spot colours and varnishes.

It has its own set of profiles for preflighting and can’t import Acrobat profiles; while it has a good set, if you have a custom profile provided by your printer, you’ll have to manually tweak the settings.

OUR VERDICT

At £2,380, this is an expensive program and you have to be expecting a lot of production disasters on some really expensive projects to be able to justify it. Nevertheless, while it’s not quite as powerful in some areas as you’d hope, it far exceeds Acrobat’s puny editing toolset and could just save your career bacon one day.

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