PDF: The digital workflow enabler

The process of exchanging electronic files is anything but infallible. The alternative? Adobe’s Portable Document Format (PDF). Introduced more than 10 years ago, PDF has today, become a de factor standard for electronic file exchange in recent years for obvious reasons:

  • A PDF document contains all the necessary information for output (page layout, images, fonts, etc.).
  • The interpretation of the PostScript file is done as the PDF document is generated, which enables you to intervene if problems occur. Moreover, PDF is a less complex digital format than PostScript. Consequently, the RIP process can occur faster and is less prone to errors.
  • The PDF format is independent of any application and platform: PDF documents can be viewed and changed in Microsoft Windows, on Mac OS and UNIX.
  • The PDF format is object- oriented: each object can be changed in itself.
  • The pages of a PDF document are self- contained: you can easily change their order, and extract or insert a page.
  • A PDF document can be compressed without any loss of quality because different compression algorithms can be used for each type of object.
  • PDF is truly a multimedia format: graphics can easily be reused and published across various media (Web, CD-ROM).

PDF-X – The standard for publishing workflow

Unlike conventional workflows, PDF enables a broader, more universal document exchange and publishing workflow. On one hand, this is advantageous: It enables PDF to be used by all kinds of industries with diverse publishing and distribution requirements. 

To address the needs of disparate PDF users, industry standards groups are developing the PDF/X series of specifications: PDF/X-1, PDF/X-2 and PDF/X-3.

Supports the complete exchange of CMYK data. PDF/X-1 has been approved.

Supports the exchange of CMYK and/or color-managed data where some of the data required for final output, such as fonts or high-resolution picture data, are uniquely identified but exchanged separately from the main body of the data exchange. PDF/X-2 is still under development.

Supports the complete exchange of CMYK and/or device-independent color. PDF/X-3 is currently under review and is expected to be approved shortly.

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