So You Thought You Knew PDF

Of course you know PDF. You’ve been using it for over 25 years . . . if you’ve been in the industry that long, anyway. If you haven’t, well, maybe you knew your father’s PDF. But perhaps you didn’t realize all the capabilities that have been added to this format as it evolved. In recent years, PDF has seen a strong migration to use in Variable Data Printing applications; a segment formerly held by other formats such as AFP/IPDS and IJPDS. Why is this important, you ask? Because how you look at PDF is going to have to change if you are considering short(er) run digital presses.

Think of it like this: all you cared about when sending a job through a CTP workflow was that it interpreted correctly. Speed hasn’t been an issue for a long time because, let’s face it, RIPs are a heck of a lot faster than your CTP device is. They aren’t the bottleneck in production and haven’t been for some time. But this changes significantly when you are driving a digital press at 100 meters per minute and every “page” in the job has variations in type, color, artwork, etc. Suddenly, the RIP is important again because it now has to interpret “big” data in a BIG way. My point is, it’s probably time for you to examine how your job PDFs are created and what you can do to make them RIP faster than you-know-what through a goose.

Fortunately, my friend Martin Bailey at Global Graphics has done an excellent job of taking the legwork out of this task. He’s compiled a really slick reference for you that covers everything from the basic theories and applications of variable data to the nuts and bolts of getting your PDFs right. Plus, it’s FREE!

Martin’s treatment of the subject is RIP agnostic so the information will apply regardless of the system you have or are considering. Even if you don’t plan on moving into the VDP market this year, it would be a good idea to start learning. Did I mention it’s free? You can download it here:

P.S. Thanks Martin. You saved me a ton of research and time!

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Xitron is the leading developer of the Harlequin RIP, Harlequin RIP based workflow, and TIFF Catcher software designed for computer-to-plate (CTP), digital output, high-speed inkjet, and direct-to-press systems. The Navigator RIP has long been recognized around the world as a best in class implementation of software RIP technology with over 35,000 installations worldwide in commercial offset, web offset, flexo, packaging, screen printing, and transactional data applications. Offering "prepress independence®," Xitron systems are compatible with virtually every output system available today. Solutions include Screen PTR RIP kits, Agfa RIP kits, Scitex RIP Kits, ECRM RIP Kits, Creo RIP Kits, QMDI RIPs and many others.

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